Saturday evening, Longhouse Reserve in East Hampton hosted an opening reception, MOSS + ROSS + GUMMER, celebrating their new Haven Moss Garden and debut of two provocative art installations by artists Toni Ross and Don Gummer. These will be on view through October 15, 2017.
“In 1989, my wife and I moved to Los Angeles with our young and growing family,” recalled Gummer. “Five eventful years later, after the riots, fires, earthquakes and high profile murders, we decided to return to our home on the East Coast. In 1995, I made Escape. It grew from my feelings of being displaced and uprooted and searching for directions. The four main linear elements emerge from the turmoil below trying to find north, south, east and west. It was my need and desire to find and express a sense of stability after those five eventful years in Los Angeles.” Critic Irving Sandler describes him as giving “postmodern life to classic principles of abstract composition.”
In Toni Ross’s installation, Sanctuary Entwined, three cubes intersect three stately trees, each magnificent in their own unique way. Architectural steel structures designed for comfortable passage of the trunk and the limbs allow the trees to extend through the tops and sides, as if they grew in place. Each is wound in hemp twine, 240,000 feet (more than 45 miles) used in total. Inside the structures, the viewer is enveloped by diffuse walls of the twine that embrace like a cocoon. At the same time, they are face-to-face with the grandeur of the trees. “I hope the viewer will find a new, more intimate relationship to the natural world both inside and outside these environments,” said Ross, “I aspire to an art that embraces primal authenticity: textured surfaces that retain their own histories, elucidating the beauty of imperfection; seeking symmetry between the temporal and the timeless, fixed in action and contemplation.”
In the process of wrapping and weaving the twine, surprising patterns emerge. As hundreds of lines of fibers cohere into a gauzy façade, moiré patterns appear, undulating across the surface like waves. Knots and crisscrossing hemp create optical conundrums that repeat across the face and echo aspects of the stoneware sculpture. In spite of the ephemeral nature of the “walls,” a sense of peacefulness and safety resides inside them, like a bird’s nest. LongHouse executive director Matko Tomicic said, “Toni’s ability to transform a ceramic cube to large scale, yet to keep it airy and secret for the visitors who enter the spaces inside is just stunning.”
Guests attending the opening included Dianne Benson, Sue Felsher, Eric Fischl, Chloë Scott-Giry, Don Gummer, April Gornik, the Haroms-Seder family, Katherine Henderson, Ron Kaplan, Joanne Kahn, Mary Jane Marcasiano and Ralph Gibson, George Negroponte, Tony Piazza, Betsy Ross, Toni Ross, Sara Salaway, Bastienne Schmidt, Dale Scott, Suzanne Slesin and Michael Steinberg, and LongHouse founder Jack Lenor Larsen.