Surprises and favorites at new pop-up exhibit at Featherstone


Tanya Augostinos, who has been curating art on the Island for the past 10 years, has an eye for the new and the unique. “I’ve always supported artists who make contemporary work outside of the mainstream, and who may not have a venue on the Island to show their work,” says Augostinos, who maintained a sort of gypsy gallery for a handful of years, and is now hosting pop-up shows. The latest of these can be found at the Featherstone Center for the Arts. This is the second time that the arts campus has hosted a show of contemporary work curated by Augostinos, former owner of A Gallery. 

The eclectic collection includes work that ranges from the representational, done in distinctive styles, to abstracts to surrealist work, to a few pieces that defy classification.

Among the 18 artists represented in the show are two highly collectible individuals whose reputation extends beyond the Island, some established local artists, a few emerging artists whom Augostinos will be introducing to Islanders, and two South African artists. 

As a longtime art curator, Augostinos has the distinction of being the only one with access to work by two now deceased artists whose work is highly desirable. Irving Petlin, who passed away in 2018, was considered one of the modern masters of pastels. As well as establishing himself as a prominent figure in the global artworld, Petlin was also a leader in political activism by visual artists in his day. He was represented by prestigious galleries in Paris, New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, and his work is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum, Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, the Pompidou Center in Paris, and the Tate in London, among other galleries. 

Augostinos had forged a close relationship with the artist and his family during his lifetime, and is now the only one with access to the remaining work that his estate is offering for sale. 

Similarly, after co-curating a show of Richard Lee’s work last year, Augostinos has been given sole permission by the late artist’s family to sell his unique fantastical reverse paintings on glass. Lee was known as the creator of an engaging, original, and irreverent visual universe — one filled with reoccurring anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures, cherubs and rose-headed babies, magicians and mystics, winged genitalia, and androgynous teacups.

Esteemed local artist Rez Williams, who has earned a reputation across the country for his large-scale paintings executed in a distinctive, sharp-edged style, will be showing work that spans various periods of the artist’s evolution, including paintings from his popular “Fleet” series, as well as landscapes executed during his time in Ireland and Maine. 

Among the other local artists included in the pop-up show are popular Island artists Ruth Kirchmeier, Leslie Baker, and Alejandro Carreno. Billy Hoff, whose work Augostinos has shown for years in the various iterations of her gallery, has contributed work representing a new direction for the artist — a series of small black-and-white figurative paintings. Whitney Cleary is showing a selection of her wonderfully moody, cerebral landscapes. The sole photographer in the show, Libby Ellis, was recently featured in a botanical-themed show at London’s famed Saatchi Gallery, while ceramicist Abbey Kuhe, who is relatively new to the Island art scene, will be showing her imaginative, intricately decorated whales, bears, and vases.

Augostinos, who hails from South Africa, will be introducing two artists from her homeland: surrealist painter Francois Venter and Damien De Villiers, who has contributed a striking black-and-white portrait triptych. 

Arguably the most daring of the artists included in the show is Richard Ericson, who works in a variety of media and styles, creating paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media pieces that are both visually impactful and thought-provoking, including a selection from his “Leftover Paint” series. Ericson’s work never fails to surprise and stimulate. 

Other artists represented in the show include Carol Brown Goldberg, Jennifer Joanou, and Mikey Rottman. Stop by Featherstone throughout the month of July, and enjoy an experience akin to a visit to a contemporary art museum. You’ll find a fascinating collection featuring an eclectic range of work at a variety of price points.

“A Gallery Contemporary Art Pop-Up” will hang at the Francine Kelly Gallery at the Featherstone Center for the Arts through August 2.