As the Hamptons real estate scene blossoms — even in the off season — creative ways of highlighting priceless properties have come to light. Enter curator Kelcey Edwards, the mastermind behind “Love Is Not All,” an exhibit of local artisans set against the stunning backdrop of 230 Bishops Lane — a property by Devito & Company in Southampton — until December 10.
Tell us about this exhibition. How did the idea come to life?
The idea came out of a conversation I had with Frank Devito of Devito & Company who designed and built the home at 230 Bishops Lane. He’s been a great advocate for my gallery Iron Gate East. He and his wife have attended all of my openings this year — four exhibitions that I have curated and installed at three different locations. Because of this, I think he understands what I am doing — conducting my exhibition series as a “moveable feast,” with each show tailored to a new environment.
It’s exciting for me, curatorially, and I believe it’s equally exciting for the artists and audiences to experience an exhibition in a new context rather than the white box that so many of us are used to. So less than a month before our opening, we sat down at the location and started brainstorming. We were fortunate that the idea came together quickly.
Housing artwork in a new home is a fresh idea. Was it tough to get all of the pieces to fit well together?
Getting the pieces to fit well together is a large part of my job. That, and writing about the works in the show, are essentially every curator’s art form. I’m sure every curator has a different process.
I spend a lot of time visualizing and measuring, layout out plans and diagrams, sketches, etc. And of course, I don’t hang anything until everything is laid out, because once it is there, the space is transformed, and there are always last-minute changes and adjustments. Basically, there’s a lot of planning that later just goes out the window.
And I always have to see the art in person first, so I spend a lot of time visiting studios, etc. Art feels different when you are in its presence rather than looking at it on a screen. That’s part of why I am so committed to making these events happen — so people can experience the art, not just look at it.
Tell us about the home itself. How did you find the space?
I’m fortunate to know the builder and developer, and having attended a few events there myself, I feel like I have a relationship to the space. I “understand” it.
Did you curate the selection based on the space or vice versa?
This is a great question, and to be honest, it’s a little bit of both. This show specifically explores the idea of the home as both a public facing space, where we gather with friends and family, hosting and entertaining, but also where we have our most intimate, private experiences. The bedrooms where we undress, where children are conceived. The rooms where, when we close our eyes — even as children — we sleep and dream, utterly alone.
So, I was drawn to work that was on one extreme, abstract, minimal, and design oriented, like Jeff Muhs’s paintings and Patti Grabel’s spoons, and on the other extreme, Ryan Michael Kelly’s hyper-specific nudes and erotic portraits, Meghan Boody’s fantastical large-scale photographs, and Richard Pasquarelli’s nostalgic feeling landscapes and stark paintings of houses at night.
Where did you start the search for artists out East? Can you tell us of any great discoveries?
This is an exciting mix of artists, for me. There are people I’ve been aware of for a while who I’ve always wanted to show, since I first discovered their work — Muhs and Pasquarelli. And Boody and Grabel, who have both shown on the East End, but who are new friends. And Ryan Michael Kelly who I consider a great discovery in that he has been primarily working commercially while developing this series. I discovered him on the Bushwick Open Studios studio tour and convinced him to allow me to show his fine art.
All of the artists are unbelievably talented, I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with them.
What’s next for you as a curator? Any more real estate collaborations in the works?
I’m working on some proposals for art fairs taking place in New York during spring break and possibly Miami. I thought this exhibition was very successful and I’m very open to doing more collaborations like this in the future. The fact is, there is an incentive for real estate agencies — and business owners of all kinds — to collaborate with curators. When done well, a show like this could help sell a home. Or a membership to a social club. Or bring heat to a restaurant or club or hotel.
It allows people to experience the venue in a new way — as a gallery. It’s transformative and sexy. And it’s something new, which we are all dying for. There were over 200 people who came to our opening at an unknown venue on a Saturday in November. I mean, that is just unheard of. And all this for a popup that launched less than a year ago. It’s all really, really exciting, and it gives me the confidence to believe that I’m tapping into something, culturally, that this community wants and needs.
I also would very much like to have an opportunity to curate for one of the wonderful cultural institutions in the area. I’m a huge fan of Southampton Arts Center, the Parrish Art Museum, and Guild Hall, and many of the smaller galleries in the area, and it would be my dream to have the opportunity to do some kind of collaborative curatorial project at one of these places.