Amagansett’s Neoteric Fine Art Is More Than A Gallery

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Tucked into the foliage along Amagansett’s Main Street, Neoteric Fine Art is far from another sleepy art gallery—its doors are open, its art is fresh, and its visitors are frequent.The 19th-century building, which has been a boardinghouse, a private home and an antiques store, has been reincarnated as a cultural hub where artists and curious minds congregate. At the end of May, an exhibit opening—featuring fire dancers, a snake charmer and an all-female punk band—had the East Hampton community talking as though Neoteric could be the next local hot spot.

Scott Bluedorn, the gallery’s director, said he ultimately hopes to create a nonprofit artist residency and cultural center where people working in all media can share, create and learn together.

On May 31, gallery visitors were wowed at a “Bad Ass Bitches” art opening, which featured the provocative art of 15 female artists and included performances by daring female performers in the gallery’s backyard, including Samantha Slithers, who slid past visitors with Luna, the dwarf albino Burmese python, atop her shoulders. Melissa Mapes curated the show, which also benefited Long Island Head Start and The Retreat.

“There are not too many all-female shows—it’s all about underexposed artists,” Mr. Bluedorn said, explaining that he sees the gallery’s function as an “anti-limelight” venue that features up-and-coming artists and not just the well-known. “I started Neoteric as an artists’ collective,” he said. “It’s about what they do and how the community can tie in to that.”

The 26-year-old launched Neoteric in 2006 with his first show at East Hampton Studio, but didn’t have a space to call his own until last July, when his friends Max and Kate Bergmann rented him his current space, at least for the time being. Their father, Thomas Bergmann, ran the Balasses House antiques store there for almost 50 years. He died in July 2011, and the house went up for sale for $2.65 million.

Mr. Bluedorn originally planned to open his gallery as a summer pop-up both to sell art and raise the profile of the building and the artists he works with, but he will celebrate one year at the location in July.

“First and foremost, I’m an artist, and I don’t consider myself an art dealer—this is a community-driven space,” he said. “The whole idea is to maintain the idea being more of a collective, working with a core group but branching out to other established, older artists. It’s not exclusive. It’s an out-of-the-box experiment, like a cross-pollination in the arts.”

From one room to the next, visitors experience local art and crafts in all mediums. In addition to art shows, Neoteric regularly holds community events like its Memorial Day block party, which also had local food, a trunk show and aerial yoga demonstrations.

Summer art classes will also be in full swing soon—drawing and painting in nature and still life, jewelry-making using bones and shells, assemblage sculpting, mask-making, worm-farming, and driftwood furniture and birdhouse-making, as well as yoga classes.

A group Mr. Bluedorn started with his friends, East End Climate Action Now, also meets at the gallery the first Sunday of each month. Also on Sunday, Fran Sperling teaches aerial yoga in the backyard.

“The plan is to bring back the old-school artists’ community,” Mr. Bluedorn said, adding that young people should be in on the scene. “This is an amazing place to live—we want to keep younger people here,” he said. ”The city is not the only escape route. There is opportunity out here if you want it.”

According to Daniel Asselin, who helps Mr. Bluedorn run the gallery and EECAN, Neoteric has become a community hub in just one year.

“It is becoming a prominent community checkpoint for people,” said Mr. Asselin, who grew up in East Hampton. “People just come here during the day to say hi, or to just center themselves. I think it’s literally the best thing that’s happened to the town since I’ve lived here.”

If all goes according to plan, Mr. Bluedorn, who is also an artist and designer, will form a nonprofit organization so that he can convert the space into an artist residency and cultural center.

“A lot of private art galleries are limited in scope, exclusionary and pander to the upper class—art should be more community-based, accessible and enriching,” he said.

Mr. Bluedorn’s hope is to convert storage buildings on the property into studios. He is at the mercy, however, of whoever buys the building, and hopes it will be someone who would get behind his dream.

“I’m lucky to be in this space,” he said, adding that Neoteric means “new thing” in Greek. “I believe in community—we’re all striving to be better humans through Neoteric.”

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