East Hampton resident Wendy Van Deusen has always been a woman of many talents.
She’s a James Beard award-winning chef, a highly lauded museum curator and an artist in her own right, specializing in basket weaving and textiles. Most recently, she’s added founder and director of the Women’s Art Center of the Hamptons (WACH, pronounced like “watch”) to her already impressive resumé.
“I needed my next chapter,” she says about the inception of her newest endeavor. “I’ve always been in a male-dominated world. This is my third act.”
It’s been about a year since Van Deusen founded WACH. Their first annual summer cocktail party is next month on Saturday, July 15, in Sag Harbor. Guests will enjoy handcrafted signature cocktails, delectable food, music from Royal KhaoZ and an art auction featuring a collection of works from art luminaries including Betty Parsons, Romare Bearden, Larry Rivers, Sue Lawty, Tamiko Kawate, Alexandra Pacula and Jack Youngerman. Tickets start at $750 and are available here. The specific location will be provided upon ticket purchase.
Although ticket prices may seem a little steep, they’re mostly to help the effort to obtain a brick-and-mortar home for WACH. “We need to find a permanent home,” Van Deusen says, “with gallery space and a professional kitchen. That way we can provide residencies, help with scholarships, all that good stuff.”
WACH is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit composed of local women who strive to support other local women. Their mission is to “support and elevate women thinkers and makers through residencies, educational initiatives, community programs, exhibitions and events for the enjoyment and enrichment of the human spirit, with accessibility for all.”
Of the myriad facets Van Deusen and her team consider, the core initiatives include celebrating women in the arts, the culinary arts, traveling and gardening. Already, it’s been an eventful first year. This past February, Van Deusen and her colleague, former executive director of LongHouse Reserve Matko Tomicic, traveled to London with just under 20 people for the “Collect 2023” art fair, the leading international fair for contemporary craft and design. Located at Somerset House, the collection included about 50 galleries from across the world representing over 400 artists containing works of ceramics, glass, textiles, wood and paper.
“We’re able to take people into places they’ve never ever been to,” Van Deusen says of her organization’s efforts. “It’s really about raising awareness and building a network.”
WACH made its public debut this past spring with “Making a Mark: The Art of Self Expression,” an exhibition of artwork from about a dozen women that was displayed in the lobby of Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor from March to May.
Next, they intend to travel to Ireland, exploring both the old and new culture of the Emerald Isle, with special attention toward architecture, design and cuisine. There’s also talk of collaborating with LTV Studios in Wainscott to produce a cooking show.
Van Deusen has a BFA in textiles from Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. “I fell in love with weaving,” she says. She owned the 1770 House in East Hampton for over 25 years, serving a slew of celebrities and locals alike. Married for about 50 years, she and her husband moved to their home in Springs in the late 1970s. Van Deusen worked with Jack Lenor Larsen, the late owner of LongHouse Reserve, helping him catalog his extensive collection. She was the curator there for about 20 years.
“I’ve met so many people over the years,” Van Deusen says. “And I always made friends along the way. I wanted to be able to make those connections for women and to really help them move forward.”
For more information, contact 631-953-7695 or [email protected].