Holiday magic is built on a foundation of nostalgia, traditions, memories, fantasy and fun. Two new window exhibitions — "Dressing the Abbey" at Tanger Outlets in Riverhead through Dec. 31 and "Karen Kilimnik: Christmas Service for the Forest Pets" at South Etna Montauk through Jan. 10 — tap into imagination, reverie and romantic visions of bygone days.
The two exhibitions evoke old world charm via voyeuristic fun achieved through artful fantasy. Both venues are leaving the lights on throughout the season to brighten the holidays, and the exhibitions are free, and can be driven to, walked around and enjoyed by the whole family. "Creating a memorable experience," said Tanger general manager Lesley Anthony, "is what it's all about."
Fans of "Downton Abbey" can reconnect with their favorite characters and fashions from Edwardian England, the Jazz Age and the Roaring '20s at Tanger Outlets' window exhibition "Dressing the Abbey."
There's history, drama and lots of glamour in the 35 original costumes worn by the stars of the show. Day and evening wear, business attire, sporting outfits and maternity dresses of the fictional Crawley family and their staff, surrounded by period props, are on view in eight window vignettes around the shopping center. There are beaded gowns draped with long loops of pearls; jeweled and feathered headbands and hats; men's dinner jackets and morning coats; and medical, military and domestic uniforms, representing both the upstairs and downstairs realms.
"Everybody's loved seeing it. They really like to connect with the costumes and characters," said general manager Lesley Anthony, who organized the exhibition. "Each costume has information on who wore it, in what season, and a little description."
Panels in the windows give historical context, and QR codes link to a map so visitors can find them all.
The ensembles on display are more than mere fashions; they reveal changes in the fabric of society. From waists cinched by corsets to looser, more natural silhouettes and ever escalating hemlines, the clothes tell a story of modernization, the hardship of wartime, an earlier pandemic, the advent of women in the workforce, and changes in lifestyles as the 19th century gave way to the 20th. "Fashion plays such a big role in history, and this really highlights that," said Anthony.
A GIANT SNOW GLOBE
When Amalia Dayan and Adam Lindemann opened South Etna Montauk during the pandemic in July, they knew it had to be a different kind of gallery for contemporary art. Walls were built to face large windows allowing all the art to be viewed from outdoors.
Through Jan. 10, they're featuring the work of internationally exhibited multimedia conceptual artist Karen Kilimnik. For her first solo show on Long Island, Kilimnik has turned the whole building into a site-specific work that's been likened to a giant snow globe you can peer into or step inside.
In "Christmas Service for the Forest Pets," sparkling holiday lights surround frosted windows through which a tableau of winter-themed artworks and props can be seen. "The show is conceived of as a total environment," says curator and art historian Alison Gingeras of Mattituck. "It starts from the street when you see the frosted windows with Christmas lights that illuminate the works. Then, when you come around to the side of the building and see a crystal chandelier, you're already being drawn into a narrative that Karen is creating."
References to films, music, dance, consumerism and kitsch all come together in scenes Gingeras says recall movie sets filled with idealized depictions of European charm. "We chose works that kind of conjure this Anglo-European imaginary," Gingeras explained, "to transport you both visually and emotionally in visiting the show."
A faux fireplace is hung with stockings, surrounded by photographs, sculptures and paintings featuring Tudor manor houses, London taxicabs, snowmen and even the Pink Panther.
"There are a lot of 'Where's Waldo' moments," Gingeras says. "It's a very kid-friendly show. It doesn't matter if you know about figurative painting, or could situate Kilimnik's work into a lineage of conceptual art. This is really a show about experience and emotion and allowing your inner child to be carried away for a moment."
WHAT "Karen Kilimnik: Christmas Service for the Forest Pets"
WHEN | WHERE Through January 10, 2021, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Friday - Sunday and by appointment, South Etna Montauk, 6 South Etna Avenue, Montauk
INFO free; (516) 383-4967; southetnamontauk.com
WHAT "Dressing the Abbey"
WHEN | WHERE Through December 31, all hours the shopping center is open; Tanger Outlets Riverhead 1770 West Main Street, Riverhead; suites 306, 401, 906, 1013, 1220
INFO free; (631) 369-2732; tangeroutlet.com