Perhaps the most pleasantly surprising aspect of the second annual “Winter Salon” exhibition at the Drawing Room in East Hampton isn’t the noteworthy diversity of the works presented but rather how seamlessly sophisticated the staging turns out to be.

Featuring more than 100 works in both the upstairs and downstairs spaces, the gallery juxtaposes its normal stable of contemporary artists with a heterogeneous collection of 18th and 19th century works that includes Beaux Arts watercolors, botanical and natural history drawings, decorative arts designs, and European plein air studies. Yet despite this dramatic stylistic diversity, by arranging the works in a loosely structured thematic framework the curators have been able to conjure an engagingly flowing presentation that is both entertaining and unexpectedly edifying.

In one respect, this is due to a thoughtful attentiveness to how the works interrelate regardless of the disparities in style or historical period. Matching, for example, Laurie Lambrecht’s archival pigment prints with 19th century French naturalist engravings or juxtaposing one of Jack Youngerman’s elegantly architectonic sculptures with Italian School architectural detail drawings, the curators have created combinations that might at first blush seem incongruous, but instead interact effortlessly.

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"Little Twister" by Jack Youngerman, 1995. Baltic birch plywood.

"Little Twister" by Jack Youngerman, 1995. Baltic birch plywood.

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"Italian School," c. 1800. Architectural Detail, ink, lavis (wash) and gouache on paper, 6 x 8 1/4 inches.

"Italian School," c. 1800. Architectural Detail, ink, lavis (wash) and gouache on paper, 6 x 8 1/4 inches.

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Further, the use of a modified salon-style hanging serves to accentuate the connections between the works rather than to create confusion born from any sense of visual cacophony. This is in and of itself an unanticipated development, since the end result of unbridled salon installation all too often leads to, at best, difficulty in concentrating on any particular work and, at worst, horribly debilitating headaches (anyone who visited the old Barnes Foundation outside Philadelphia will know whereof I speak).

Among the notable highlights in the exhibition are two works by Alice Aycock that illustrate the artist’s ability to meld objects from the real world with a profound sense of atmospheric whimsy. This effect is particularly apparent in A Startling Whirlwind for University of Tennessee, Knoxville (watercolor and inkjet printing on paper, 2013), a study for a large scale sculpture installed at that university’s pedestrian mall.

Using a swirling geometric shape to create a dynamic sense of organic motion, the work gains in impact from its proximity to the aforementioned French 19th century naturalist engravings and the Laurie Lambrecht work Swirling Vines Blue (archival pigment print on rag paper, 2015).

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Alice Aycock "A Startling Whirlwind for University of Tennessee, Knoxville" by Alice Aycock, 2013. Watercolor and inkjet printing on paper, 24 x 30 inches, 27 x 33 inches framed.

"A Startling Whirlwind for University of Tennessee, Knoxville" by Alice Aycock, 2013. Watercolor and inkjet printing on paper, 24 x 30 inches, 27 x 33 inches framed.

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Engraving French 19th century, "Elynnus," hand colored engraving, watercolor on engraving on paper, 16 x 9 3/4 inches, 21 x 15 inches mat.

Engraving French 19th century, "Elynnus," hand colored engraving, watercolor on engraving on paper, 16 x 9 3/4 inches, 21 x 15 inches mat.

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"Swirling Vines Blue" by Laurie Lambrecht, 2015. Archival pigment print on rag paper.

"Swirling Vines Blue" by Laurie Lambrecht, 2015. Archival pigment print on rag paper.

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This use of juxtaposition also accentuates the impact of Dan Rizzie’s Lotus (lithograph, chine colle,1989) in the area of the gallery where it shares wall space with Antonia Munroe’s delicately elegant portrait of birds, in particular her two pieces An Imaginary Bird and The Blue Grosbeak and Sweet Flowering Bay (both pigment dispersion on panel, 2015).

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"Lotus" by Dan Rizzie, 1989. Lithograph, chine colle.

"Lotus" by Dan Rizzie, 1989. Lithograph, chine colle.

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"An Imaginary Bird" by Antonia Munroe, 2015. Pigment dispersion on canvas.

"An Imaginary Bird" by Antonia Munroe, 2015. Pigment dispersion on canvas.

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The works on display with the most impact, though, are the predominantly landscape paintings found in the downstairs gallery space. Jane Wilson’s Green Twilight (oil on linen, 2000), for example, fashions a powerful sensation of nature’s unbridled power while creating a composition in which the earth is but a minor footnote in the painting’s compositional structure.

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"Green Twilight" by Jane Wilson, 2001. Oil on linen.

"Green Twilight" by Jane Wilson, 2001. Oil on linen.

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This sensation also comes to the fore in Wilson’s work Raging Storm (oil on linen, 2001), while both Jennifer Bartlett’s Nevis, January #1 (pastel on paper, 2008) and Jane Freilicher’s Some Trees (oil and paper mounted on board, 2007) offer images of the natural world that are distinctly more bucolic.

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"Some Trees" by Jane Freilicher, 2007. Oil and paper mounted on board.

"Some Trees" by Jane Freilicher, 2007. Oil and paper mounted on board.

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The Freilicher work, in particular, is notably effective in the artist’s structuring of the canvas so that the viewer’s eyes are constantly drawn from the lush green foreground and into the peacefully pastoral sky framed by clouds and a gentle lunar image that dominates the upper portion of the work.

Also of interest in the exhibition are Fairfield Porter’s View Through Window from Interior (ink on paper, circa 1965), Adrian Nivola’s delicate wire sculptures Arunian Harp (wood wire paint and mixed media, 2015) and Deco Pochette #4 (wood, wire and paint, 2015), and Bryan Hunt’s Deep Field with Quarry (oil, acrylic, charcoal, and photograph on canvas, 2015).

To see additional works of interest in "Winter Salon," view our slideshow:

View Slideshow

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BASIC FACTS: “Winter Salon” continues at the Drawing Room in East Hampton, N.Y. through February 27, 2016. 631-324-5016. www.drawingroom-gallery.com 

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Copyright 2016 Hamptons Art Hub LLC. All rights reserved.

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