Guild Hall (158 Main Street, East Hampton) is getting its groove back.
This past Sunday, the cultural center’s galleries re-opened to the public with artist Renée Cox’s “A Proof of Being” as the inaugural exhibition. It’s been over a year since renovations began on the East Hampton locale, which originally opened in 1931 and has served as a multidisciplinary cultural institution ever since.
Jamaican-born, New York-bred Cox is a visual artist, working mostly in photography and video. Located in the Marks Family Gallery North as well as the Tito Spiga Exhibition Space, her Guild Hall exhibition includes a selection of Cox’s most well-known and celebrated photographs as well as an immersive video installation. Her works on display focus on themes of race, sexual identity, gender and how those all relate to society’s historical and current systems of power.
“I noticed going to white folks’ houses, there were these massive, grand depictions of some ancestor of theirs,” says Cox, “and I thought, hmm, black folks don’t have this, and I wanted to change that.” According to a press release from Guild Hall, her works attempt to deconstruct stereotypes, challenging preconceived ideas about gender and race while simultaneously exploring self-representations for black diasporic peoples.
“Renée Cox’s intrepid gaze has been a part of the zeitgeist for nearly 30 years,” says exhibition organizer, independent curator, and writer Monique Long in a press release. “Her work has been influential across disciplines including popular culture, music, fashion, and of course, visual art.”
Cox’s exhibition is slated to be up through September 4, and will include a conversation with Cox and historian Deborah Willis this Sunday, July 9, at 1 p.m.. Admission for the talk is $20, $18 for Guild Hall members.
Next month, beginning August 5, is “Celestial Garden” from artist and sculptor Leo Villareal. Set to be in the Marks Family Gallery South, the exhibition will feature monumental LED artwork over ten feet high and thirty feet wide encased in a vinyl membrane, according to Guild Hall’s summer program guide.
Although Guild Hall is still in phase one of the renovation process, this year will also see the return of several beloved exhibitions and sales like the Clothesline Art Sale (beginning July 22) and the Artist Members Exhibition (beginning October 28 and continuing through December). Guild Hall’s galleries will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday to Monday. There’ll be a newly erected coffee bar featuring goodies from East Hampton’s own Tutto Caffé available for visitors. Admission to the galleries is free or pay what you can.