Artists to Watch

Casting a Wide Lens
When Sag Harbor photographer Blair Seagram attended a cocktail party/open house this summer at “The Back Bay,” an enchanting waterfront property in Water Mill, she was pleasantly surprised to find one of her photographs hanging in the entry foyer – a print of a field at the corner of Scuttlehole and Mitchell’s Lane – that the owner had purchased at a Clothes Line Sale at Guild Hall. It actually is not surprising that the Canadian-born lensman should have come across one of her works, many of which are of South Fork scenes. They are in collections worldwide from the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art to the US Department of State.

Many of her pieces are panoramic views of land and waterscapes. Her action-packed images of surfers, photographed in time delay and reconstructed to resemble film, were taken at such local surfing spots as Ditch Plains and Flying Point Beach. She has been “fascinated by wide-format images,” since a trip to the Yukon where she began “clicking pictures left to right to get a bigger more inclusive image.”

Seagram’s work has been exhibited locally at such places as the Tulla Booth and Mark Humphrey galleries and the Parrish Art Museum and Heckscher Museum of Art.

Poured Paint
East Hampton painter Susan Vecsey credits such muses as Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Mark Rothko, Milton Avery and Helen Frankenthaler for much of her inspiration. Using representational imagery as a starting point, she goes on to convey emotion through color, form, and shape. Her process begins with charcoal studies in which she draws her ideas on paper, spending much time contemplating composition as well as size and scale. After creating elaborate color studies she then thins oil paint and pours it directly onto primed linen or paper allowing it to flow naturally while deliberately guiding the flow of the paint. “With poured paint, timing is everything, and it is important to be decisive with it and also ready to accept or reject the unexpected.”

Many of her new works are large-scale and feature bold geometric shapes and dramatic compositions while keeping her signature soft edges and areas of exposed raw linen. “This is virtuoso painting,” wrote Franklin Einspruch of her 2014 solo show at the Berry Campbell Gallery in New York. Her work was also featured in Guild Hall’s 2014 Selections from the Permanent Collection alongside Balcomb Greene, Chuck Close, Eric Fischl, April Gornik, and Mary Heilmann. In recent years several of her paintings have been used in advertising campaigns for Lee Jofa and Brunschwig & Fils. Her paintings are widely held in public and private collections around the world.

Packing Punch
Springs artist Denise Gale began her career in Pasadena in the early 1970s when that city was undergoing a vital art scene. “My paintings are very personal,” says the artist. “I like to create a tension and chaos.” Then, by laying down swathes of color and drawing on a highly developed editing process, she “makes sense out of the picture.” She is drawn to discord. “All the things in life that cannot be explained, the abstract and the ephemeral, are what interest me.”

At her one-woman show at Amagansett’s Ille Arts last year, the art critic Peter Plagens had much praise to offer. Besides calling her a “really good painter and then some,” he went on to say that she “isn’t afraid of decisions. She cuts that deliciously awkward curlicue through a wide skein of orange or black or lime green or pink with a risky incisiveness” and has an “uncannily indelicate sense of touch, color, paint surface and interior scale. All these qualities together enable Denise Gale’s paintings to pack a lovely punch.” Gale has shown widely from the Mercer Gallery in New York to the Newspace Gallery in Los Angeles.

Pet Portraits
Rachelle Oatman paints both classic and highly amusing anthropomorphic portraits of dogs and cats, often dressed in fanciful historic garb. Oatman spent 20 years in Europe where, while living in Milan, she was the only dog portraitist in Northern Italy. She exhibited extensively in Monte Carlo, Italy and France. Her clients have included such luminaries as Valentino, Issey Miyake, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and Princess Caroline. A few years ago she was commissioned by a real estate agent to paint several portraits of her clients’ dogs as gifts upon significant transactions. Among the commissions was one to paint portraits of Billy Joel’s two pugs. “A pet portrait is a very unexpected and special personal gift,” says Oatman.

Her traveling exhibition, Dog-a-Porter, is comprised of 30 or so oil paintings depicting various breeds of dogs dressed in contemporary fashion such as Prada, Fendi, and Gucci. It has been shown in galleries and such nontraditional spaces as L’Eclaireur, a fashionable Parisian boutique, which was one of the first boutiques to host art and design exhibits displayed among the clothing. It was also held at Teatro Miele, a theater in Trieste, Italy, to which the artist donated a percentage of both painting sales and private commissions.