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Artist and EEC7 curator, Paton Miller (Photo courtesy Southampton Arts Center)

The opening reception for East End Collected7, a bi-annual collaborative effort curated by local artist Paton Miller, is at the Southampton Arts Center on Jobs Lane this Saturday, February 11th from 5 to 7 p.m.

For its newest installment, the exhibit will include 42 local artists showcasing their paintings, sculpture, mixed media pieces and film. Artists from all walks of life are slated to be featured, from a life-long East End builder to a town supervisor to a former political refugee as some of the participants. “It runs the gamut,” Miller says. Uniquely among the EEC7’s artist roster as well is an entire family, a husband, wife, son and daughter-in-law originally from Argentina who’ve made the East End their permanent home.

“A lot of these people are not doing the standard career of an artist,” says Miller, a Southampton resident since 1974. “I know a lot of people, and some of these artists I meet by happenstance,” he says. “There is a real organic quality about it.”

The nature of this exhibit varies in subject matter, with Miller noting there are “some real surprises” in store.  Contrasting themes range from breathtaking photorealism to what he calls borderline apocalyptic pieces, all set to adorn the walls and floor space. Visitors can expect works to evoke the unusual, conceptual and esoteric, as well as the familiar, personal and realistic. Designed to showcase what happens when artists display their work simultaneously under the same roof, Miller says, “There’s such a strong collaborative nature to this, it ultimately benefits everyone.”

“Boy and Mural of Boy” by Paton Miller (Photo courtesy Southampton Arts Center)

Newly appointed SAC Executive Director Christina Mossaides Strassfield says EEC7 showcases “the great talent and vibrancy of the artistic community that continues to flourish here.” Equally impressed with the exhibit’s line up, she adds, “I am especially pleased to see several members of a family all participate in the same show—husbands and wives as well as parent and child.”

Miller is no stranger to Strassfield’s efforts in the local art community, recalling their collaboration during her time with East Hampton’s Guild Hall, and naming her a positive force in the East End’s art world for the past 30 years. 

When asked about her commitment to understanding the needs of local artists, Miller says, “She’s got it in spades.”

Strassfield’s appointment comes at the same time the SAC commemorates its 10th anniversary, something she says she’s “very proud to be joining in time to celebrate.”

Back in 2012, when the Parrish Art Museum relocated to its present Water Mill home on Montauk Highway, Miller says there was a quandary about what should happen to the then-vacant Southampton Village location. “Concerned citizens were interested in the fate of the beautiful building,” he says. “When the community looked to me, I noted any art center has to be loved, and the best way to do that is to reflect the community you’re in.”

“…any art center has to be loved, and the best way to do that is to reflect the community you’re in.”

Paton miller

Putting that philosophy to work, Miller began to amass about 30 artists living on the East End for a new local-themed show. His efforts were met with eager delight from both residents and visitors alike: EEC’s first opening reception saw about 800 people attend. East End Collected was born and Southampton had its very own art center. 

Painting by Riverhead artist Adam Straus (Photo courtesy Southampton Arts Center)

“I thought it’d be one and done,” he says, but every iteration serves the artists populating the area, each with their own story to tell. Thanks in part to Miller’s efforts, SAC’s become the new Mecca for them and their work.

“Paton has reached from the South to the North Fork and Shelter Island and created an intergenerational dialogue that inspires everyone to let their creative energy flow freely,” says Strassfield. “We are delighted to have stayed true to the mission statement of building community.”

East End Collected7 will be up until April 29th. Admission is free. 25 Jobs Lane, Southampton, 631-283-0967