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4 Summer Exhibitions with Deeper Meaning

BY Sahar Khan | May 30, 2017 | Feature Features

These introspective exhibitions are steeped in reinvention, poetry, societal ills and nautical beauty.
“Pocket Whale” by April Gornik at the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum

The summer begins with a multifaceted turn at the Parrish Art Museum with John Graham: Maverick Modernist. Broken up by decades, the time slots signal Graham’s ongoing expansion as an artist: the ’20s cubist-style; abstract pieces in the ’30s; works in the ’40s inspired by Renaissance artists; and an allusion to mysticism in his oeuvre from the ’50s. In works like “Coffee Cup” from 1928 and “Lunchroom Coffee Cup” from 1930—the cup of joe was a favorite subject—Graham rendered the mug and an egg in angular lines and geometric shapes, while figurative portraits from the 1950s are overlaid with diagrammatic grids and astrological symbols that intimate the occult. Alluding to Graham as a maverick is not for bombast; indeed, it was his continual self-challenge to push creative boundaries that turned him into a true original. Through July 30, 279 Montauk Highway, Water Mill

“Poetry in motion” might be an unoriginal way to describe the work of a sculptor, but Brooklyn-based artist Benjamin Keating’s work screams the sentiment before you even know his background. The poetry fan found inspiration in the works of e.e. cummings, Allen Ginsberg and especially T.S. Eliot’s “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock,” in which the restless, lovelorn nature of the narrator might relate to those of Keating’s works that seem to undulate with the yearning of what could have been and perhaps might still be. In his eponymous debut solo exhibit at the Tripoli Gallery, a series of bronze maquette chairs—spiked with and balancing broken picture frames—imply a slashing away at sit-on-your-behind complacency in American culture. Through June 11, 30A Jobs Lane, Southampton

Speaking of reconstructing a narrative, Taryn Simon delves into the lives of people who served time in prison for crimes they did not commit. On exhibit at Guild Hall, The Innocents, originally created in 2002, coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Innocence Project, which works to exonerate wrongfully convicted prisoners, often with the help of DNA analysis. Simon hones in on those mistakes by photographing her subjects at the scene of misidentification, the scene of arrest, the scene of the alibi or the scene of the crime. Each factual location takes on a fictional history that has real, destructive consequences for the accused, who in turn becomes the victim. June 17-July 30, 158 Main St., East Hampton

The Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum puts the hamlet’s most legendary claim to fame in the spotlight with Anchor: A Whale of a Show, which pays homage to the cetaceans that live off the coast. The village’s rich whaling history dates back to the 18th century, when sailors took dangerous voyages to bring back blubber. Local artists like Eric Fischl, Donald Sultan and Susan Lazarus-Reimen add their own twists to the tales with nautically themed artworks grouped around the animals. From “Pocket Whale,” a painting of a backflipping whale by April Gornik, to a diorama of a porpoise carved out of a piece of wood that artist Dan Rizzie found on a North Haven beach, the artworks’ most common thread is not so much the whales themselves but a reverence for what they represent for Sag Harbor. May 26-June 12, 200 Main St., Sag Harbor

Photography Courtesy Of: