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Drive-through art exhibits in Patchogue, Hamptons

Louis K. Meisel, of Manhattan's Louis K. Meisel Gallery, spoke on Wednesday about his idea to create a way for people to experience the sculptures of Hans Van de Bovenkamp while maintaining social distance. To do this, he created a drive-thru art exhibit in the Hamptons that runs along Montauk Highway. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Art speaks to us in ways few things can. For artists, it’s a constant communication; for audiences, it's been a while. While some museums and galleries have reopened, others are taking art to the streets. Two new exhibitions on Long Island feature innovative, socially distant ways to see great contemporary art in person.

"The basic idea is for people to have something to do and have fun," said Sagaponack collector and SoHo gallerist Louis Meisel of his "Hans Van de Bovenkamp: A Hamptons Sculpture Tour." The exhibition includes 15 major abstract sculptures – towering, curvilinear forms in burnished stainless steel or bronze – by noted East End artist, Van de Bovenkamp.

The tour, which runs through next September, is spread over two miles on or near Montauk Highway, starting in Water Mill. It runs through Bridgehampton, ending at The Sagaponack Sculpture Field on Meisel's Wilkes Lane property.

A TRAIL OF TREASURES

With a downloadable map from meiselgallery.com, thumbnail pictures, and engaging information about each sculpture, it's part treasure hunt, part exhibition and something everyone can enjoy.

"I hear of people going out and saying 'Oh, there's the next one! There's the next one! as they drive along the highway," Meisel said. "It's totally safe. People can stay in their cars. All of these pieces are within a few yards of the highway and there's parking in front of them. You can either drive the whole thing in 15 minutes, or you can spend an hour and get out and spend five minutes looking at each one."

Some sculptures were already installed, but six new works, including one that Van de Bovenkamp just completed, were lifted by crane, packed onto a trailer and placed along the route in August. "I just looked out the kitchen window, and there's someone there. Every day, there's somebody walking around, people running, driving, or riding bikes. About a month ago, somebody had a party for two-year-olds," Meisel said, adding, "It's been satisfying."

NIGHT LIGHTS

Meanwhile, The Patchogue Arts Council promises a bright fall season with "MoCA L.I.ghts," creating an open-air museum and illuminating downtown Patchogue. With artworks projected onto buildings, giant screens, and the marquee of the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, it's meant create new experiences and lift spirits for both artists and audiences.

Through the end of December, "Art on the Marquee" presents custom-made animated artworks on the Patchogue Theatre's marquee, "ARTchitecture" will transform local buildings with colorful projections, and the "Night Vision Gallery's" huge screen will pop up and be filled with slideshows of artists' work.

The program inaugurates a planned biennial event that started more than a year ago as a lightbulb-over-the-head moment for Patchogue Arts Council executive director, Beth Giacummo and president, Lori Devlin. They conceived of the townwide art experience, applied for grants, lined up sponsors, and invited artists from all over the world to apply. With dozens of artists on board, a budget exceeding $75,000, scores of local business, technical, and security people, and town officials involved, it's already transforming Patchogue.

Specially created digital imagery will appear on the Patchogue Theatre's marquee from 8:20 till midnight each evening. "Taking artwork out of the museum and putting it up in a public scale this way is so exciting," said Giacummo. "We're used to seeing the marquee as a source of information, but now we'll be looking at it as art."

On Oct. 25, Nov. 5-8, and another date to be announced, a 24-foot inflatable screen will pop up somewhere in town, displaying paintings, drawings, sculptures, video, and short films.

The main event, "ARTchitecture," on Nov. 5-8 will transform the Patchogue-Medford Carnegie Library, the Bargain Bilge building, Roe Walkway, the Patchogue-Medford Library on Main Street, and Artspace, which houses the Museum of Contemporary Art Long Island. Look for projections creating brightly colored facades, imagery of swimming fish, moving mandalas, texts, vivid mosaics, and more. Check PAC's website and social media for details.

It's all free, outdoors, drivable or walkable, and a festive way to experience art firsthand. "We need a wave of renewal and revitalization," said Giacummo, "and we believe that art is going to lead the way."

WHAT "Hans Van de Bovenkamp: A Hamptons Sculpture Tour"

WHEN | WHERE Through September 2021, starting with "Green Thunder" at 903 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill and proceeding east to the Sagaponack Sculpture Field, 59 Wilkes Lane

INFO Free; 212-677-1340, downloadable map at meiselgallery.com

WHAT "MoCA L.I.ghts"

WHEN | WHERE "Art on the Marquee," 8:20 p.m.-midnight through Dec. 31, Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 E Main St.; "Night Visions Gallery" 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 25, 6:30-11 p.m.Nov. 5-8, and one date in December to be announced; "ARTchitecture" 6:30 - 11:30 p.m. Nov. 5-8, various buildings in Patchogue's arts district.

INFO Free; 631-627-8686, patchoguearts.org

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