Jonathan Morse Aims a Lens at Creativity

“Face to Face” in Sag Harbor
"Paton Miller" by Jonathan Morse

The South Fork has been a magnet for artists since the 1880s, and perhaps never more so than now. A new exhibition aims a lens, figuratively and literally, at the remarkable size, diversity, and level of today’s artistic community.

 “Face to Face: East End Portraits by Jonathan Morse,” an exhibition organized by Peter Marcelle, will open tomorrow at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum and remain on view through July 12. Forty-one black-and-white photographs, taken in Mr. Morse’s Sag Harbor studio, capture visual artists, playwrights, architects, and other creative residents. 

The impetus came from a portrait taken by Mr. Morse of Paul Ickovic, a friend and fellow photographer. “He insisted, in his own inimitable way, that I cease work on anything but portraits,” Mr. Morse said. “I began photographing friends, mostly contemporaries, then friends of friends, and so forth. Part of the raison d’être of the collection is the idea that men who have lived a long and creative life of the mind may develop a depth of character that can be read in their faces.”

The project was collaborative. Because digital photography allows the images to be seen immediately, the subjects took part in the selection of images. “Their reaction to the photographs was extremely interesting and helpful.” He also noted that portraits are especially challenging.

Those in the exhibition include the writers Max Blagg and Joe Pintauro, the architects Fred Stelle and Lee Skolnick, the photographers Ralph Gibson and Mr. Ickovic, and, among the 29 visual artists, John Alexander and Joe Zucker.

The exhibition is accompanied by 72-page catalog with an introduction by Eric Ernst, himself a subject, and 58 images. The catalog and the photographs in the exhibition are for sale as a fund-raising effort for the museum.

A book signing and cocktail party will be held on May 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Sylvester & Co. in Sag Harbor, and a reception with Mr. Morse and many of the artists will take place at the museum on July 1 from 6 to 8 p.m.