The template for the inaugural Southampton Town Festival of the Arts is simple: create a boutique, high-end art show geared toward a highly educated clientele.
The Paragon Fine Art Events team, which directs the show, has had plenty of practice in getting ready for the event; yearly festivals are already held in Westhampton Beach and Montauk. The newest sale and show—featuring the works of 60 American and international artists and including paintings, jewelry, sculptures, photography, woodworking, ceramics, glass, fiber art, and mixed media works—will be held at the VFW Post 5350 in Quogue on Saturday and Sunday, June 22 and 23.
“We have great diversity and the quality of the show is fabulous,” show director Bill Kinney said during a telephone interview earlier this month.
Many artists and artisans travel from far and wide to participate in the Hamptons shows, including Edward Loedding, who lives in Brandon, Vermont.
“I’m really looking forward to it. We always do well at the Paragon festivals,” he said during a telephone interview last week.
Mr. Loedding’s pieces may be the epitome of what mixed media means. An oil painter for 15 years, he used to use photography only as a reference for his paintings until he discovered the world of digital picture taking. Now his photographs are the skeleton for digital “paintings.”
Mr. Loedding calls his work “visual choreography.”
“I call it visual choreography because it’s a lot of different steps to create a dance for the eyes,” he explained. “It’s a pigeonhole; not photography, and it’s not a painting, it’s a new way to make artwork.”
The artist starts with a montage of photos, which he paints digitally using specialized software. One piece can take anywhere from four months to up to a year to complete.
He makes 150 prints—75 small, 75 large—of each piece. To create them, he uses a Roland Symphony 740 printer, which retails for $40,000, then added another $8,000 in modifications to change the ink system and firmware to identify 12 colors instead of six. The result is a form of image printing based on textile printing, which is multichanneled, with inks that are blended independently of each other.
Even the ink is custom-made by a man in New Jersey named Scott Saltman, Mr. Loedding reported. Mr. Saltman patented a vehicle he calls “flow guard,” which creates 100-percent pure pigment that creates a distinct, rich look. It is dense like paint, and Mr. Loedding said it lasts forever.
“You’re getting real-time results immediately. Each result affects what you are doing and where you are going next,” Mr. Loedding said of digital painting. “It’s a very fluid process.”
Israel-based painter Yoram Gal will also be showing at the festival. His medium may be more traditional than Mr. Loedding’s, but his technique is just as unique. The painter, who is a bit of an art nihilist, was accepted to art school but declined the offer.
“For me the freedom and joy I have to paint has been kept alive for 49 years because I don’t listen to critics, or professors. I try to converse with dead great artists I admire,” he said. “I look at any painting I want anytime online. These are my teachers without ever talking to them, these are my inspirations. Van Gogh and Gaughan didn’t study, they just painted and were enormous.”
Mr. Gal said that oftentimes other artists approach him and say that it doesn’t look like he studied art. They ask how they can unlearn and paint freely like he does. This is a problem with artists, Mr. Gal said. They go to school and do everything they are told and forget how to think outside the box.
The painter’s free-thinking and need to rebel is demonstrated in his choice of a name for his son. When he and his wife were thinking of a name for their progeny they didn’t want an Abraham, or a Jacob, or any other stereotypical Jewish name, he reported. They chose Nimrod, a pagan king in the Bible before Abraham.
Although the name denotes a negative connotation here in the Western world, Mr. Gal said that he knew that but that in Hebrew it means “We shall rebel.” And that’s exactly why he knew it was the perfect name for his child.
The painter, who grew up in Jerusalem, said he had a painful childhood. Painting became his way to deal with the pain.
“Jerusalem is like a big wound in the heart of the world and my life,” he said. “I paint to have fun, but it’s like a storm for me when I paint Jerusalem.”
“It’s great fun for me, it’s therapy, it’s joy, the more people who buy my paintings it makes me more happy,” Mr. Gal continued. “People tell me it gives us joy, it gives us light, I love it, it makes me smile. Making people happy is a great joy and incentive.”
The Southampton Town Festival of the Arts will be held at VFW Post 5350 in Quogue on Saturday and Sunday, June 22 and 23. Saturday show hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday show hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information visit paragonartevents.com/southhampton.