Folioeast Turns to Sculpture at Its Malia Mills Pop-Up Space

“On and Off the Wall”
“On and Off the Wall,” an exhibition of predominantly small sculptural works, is on view at Folioeast’s pop-up location at Malia Mills in East Hampton. Arthur Bijur

It’s not just the trees, animals, and flowers that go dormant here until the spring. After a long fall and holiday season, the next few weeks will challenge the heartiest of the year-round and off-season denizens to dare to brave the elements in order to partake in the scant cultural offerings and opportunities to socialize.

With so many taking well-deserved breaks, we are lucky that the online and offline project of Coco Myers, Folioeast, continues to return every year to the retail space seasonally vacated by Malia Mills on East Hampton’s Main Street. It isn’t a huge space, but she always manages to fill it thoughtfully with work by area artists.

In her latest exhibition, “On and Off the Wall,” she makes the most of the space with a grouping of sculptures from some new and familiar faces. It is a lively and fresh installation, allowing us to see old friends in unexpected ways. Intermittent pops of color enliven the space and the art around them, never overpowering, but just right.

The color, for the most part, is subtle and surprising, coming primarily from Dennis Leri in expected and surprising ways. His brightly painted welded steel sculptures have become a staple of indoor and outdoor shows on the South Fork. But his painted wood sculptures, assembled from scraps and painted in soothing shades of blue, show a more casual and improvised side of the artist, compared to his glossy, hard-edged surfaces. Included in the exhibition are two metal sculptures, “Pure Form #8,” which dominates the back nook of the store, and “Contemplation #3,” a smaller yellow sculpture.

Color throughout the rest of the display is minimal. Carolyn Conrad folds lint collected for years into subtle gradations of color and places them in a “cabinet” fashioned from wood. The piece has the tasteful and uptight air of a well-appointed sock drawer. The lint manages to look luxurious and referential while also working as an abstract color study. 

While far from the first to use lint as a found object or medium in a work — Hannah Wilke in the 1970s comes to mind — Ms. Conrad treats it in a way that adds to the conversation and makes it fresh. The tonal subtleties are soothing and Zen-like. Her other piece, “String Series #8,” has a similar less-is-more aesthetic, with a network of neutral-toned string binding layers of paper.

Robert Schwarz’s sculptures, conceived and enhanced with monofilament strung over several hard structures, feel like unusual musical instruments or studies in three-dimensional geometry. Sometimes the allusions seem futuristic and space age-y, the titles snatched from some 1960s sci-fi flick. Rather, he envisions them, as he told The Star last year, as models for huge intergalactic vessels that travel among the planets bringing settlers and peace to the cosmos. He calls the series “Starbridges.”

Mark Webber’s Hydrocal sculptures are embellished with paint, epoxy, and copper. As simple as they appear, there is often a surprise or more depth than at first glance. In their palette and minimal embellishment, they are particularly in tune with Ms. Conrad’s work.

The wood sculptures of Aurelio Torres are evocative in a minimal way. The short and narrow stacked pieces are in the shapes of simple and sometimes fanciful boat hulls. Thoughts of travel or the gentle rocking of a vessel on water give them a meditative quality. The artist’s choice of reclaimed lumber in each causes one to pause and contemplate the source and its simple beauty.

Paul Pavia’s three sculptures include both wood and brass, and one in combination. The small pieces, no larger than 18 inches, sit on small shelves built for 

the show. The wood works are frank and structural. In “Nerv’s dock,” the brass is layered and a bit crusty, with pins and holes and cracks and fissures. The metal’s vulnerability and its many implied repairs make the sculpture emotive and relatable.

There is quite a lot of other metal in the room. Given the space, each piece is smaller than the life-size and colossal casts associated with bronze. James DeMartis has three tabletop works. “Bonac Bridge” is a mélange of steel and wood. It highlights what could be the negative space created by the arched parts of bridges that allow the water to flow under them. One of his small curved sculptures in steel resembles a Richard Serra, and he acknowledges this in the title, “Baby Serra.” Another, called “Peel Me,” gives the metal an organic quality, as if it were a piece of fruit or an article of clothing.

Justin Peyser’s steel wall hangings, called “Inclusions,” are gatherings of small flat squares into different groupings set along a metal frame. A flat circular washer shape placed on each serves to balance them.

Ms. Myers has also included ceramics in the mix. Rosario Varela offers primarily glazed stoneware formed in shapes recognizable from nature and anatomy. Her unglazed porcelain “Hangbone” is a composition of rope and ceramic pieces, seemingly symbolic but ultimately mysterious in its meaning.

Sarah Jaffe Turnbull’s glazed ceramic works are pleasing amalgamations of shapes recalling children’s building blocks that could also pass for Cubist sculptures. They are small, no more than eight inches high, but have a solidity to their structure that makes them seem larger, weightier, and certainly important.

Ms. Myers had initially planned to close the show at an earlier date, but it will now remain on view through Jan. 13