Empire of Water js the new exhibit at The Church in...

Empire of Water js the new exhibit at The Church in Sag Harbor. Credit: April Gornik

The sunshine has returned, and it's a great time to get out and see the world again. Art exhibitions this season feature close looks at our environment, views from abroad, and ways to get into nature and see how it inspires creativity.

"Empire of Water”

WHEN | WHERE Through May 30, The Church, 48 Madison St., Sag Harbor

INFO 631-919-5342, thechurchsagharbor.org

Here on Long Island, water surrounds us. We love it, choose to live near it, and have learned to respect it. "Empire of Water" at The Church, a beloved old building turned into a free contemporary art space by East End artists April Gornik and Eric Fischl features 47 works by an outstanding roster of 44 international and local artists responding to water as a life-giver, a source of food and enjoyment, and a spiritual and societal resource.

"Water is metaphor," said chief curator, Sara Cochran, "for life, for transformation, for baptism. It's an exquisite but also terrifying force in our lives."

Don’t just look for pretty pictures of beaches. Cochran noted works about ships that transported slaves and photographs of pollution, as well as art about water for fun and leisure are also featured. "Contemporary art allows us to think about the issues that we live with, and it does that in a joyous provocative way," Cochran said.

"Connecting the Drops"

WHEN | WHERE July 21-Oct. 29, Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery, Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Rd., Stony Brook

INFO 631-632-7240, zuccairegallery.stonybrook.edu

Also all about water is this exhibition organized by Zuccaire Gallery director Karen Levitov. "Connecting the Drops" proves that art doesn’t always have to be sitting prettily on a wall. For the 7 women artists in this show, it's about getting knee-deep in their subject. Rather than presenting what they see, they're actively changing it. Environmentalism meets activism meets art, with sculptures that purify water and others that reclaim elements from the sea, turn them into art, and then give back to the community.

"Impressionism: A World View"

WHEN | WHERE Through July 10, Nassau County Museum of Art, One Museum Drive, Roslyn Harbor

INFO 516-484-9338, nassaumuseum.org

One of the most beloved styles of painting, Impressionism imparts a feeling of comfort and nostalgia. But that's from a distance of more than a century. In their day, a group of French artists took their easels and brushes outdoors and shocked the world. "Impressionism," say the curators, "became more than just a way of painting—it was a way of seeing." It crossed the Atlantic, influencing art on Long Island, but also traveled east. This is a rare opportunity to see Impressionist inspired works made in the 1800s, 1900s, and 2000s, from France to Poland, Vietnam and Shinnecock Hills — the home of one of America's first and most important schools of plein air painting.

"An Art of Changes: Jasper Johns Prints, 1960–2018”

WHEN | WHERE April 24-July 10, Parrish Art Museum, 279 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill

INFO 631-283-2118, parrishart.org

Stroll through a meadow filled with local plants and dotted with stunning art, and then head inside to see a major exhibition of Jasper Johns' prints. Johns dominated the winter art season with a two-part simultaneous blockbuster at the Whitney Museum in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Here, in the airy, open galleries of the Parrish, see what they left out – a tight focus on Johns' printmaking practices. The 90 or more works are as varied, complex and ever-evolving as the nonagenarian artist who creates them. 

"Global Asias: Contemporary Asian and Asian American Art from the Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation”

WHEN | WHERE June 4-Sept. 18, Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington

INFO 631-380-3230, heckscher.org

Expect the unexpected at this concentrated yet expansive look at the work of 15 contemporary artists of Asian descent. They're crossing boundaries and also preconceptions. Look for complex reconstructions of traditional forms like handmade paper, as well as moving personal narratives told through art, and upbeat, up-to-the-minute works influenced by manga and Pop by Takashi Murakami. Related programs include a class by local master of Ikebana flower arranging, Toyomi Sobue, and a woodblock printing workshop.

East End day trips

Hamptons Fine Art Fair

WHEN | WHERE July 14-17, Southampton Fairgrounds

INFO 516-991-4042, hamptonsfineartfair.com

Art is long, the ancient Greek Hippocrates told us, but chances to see it can be short. Head to Rick Friedman's Hamptons Fine Art Fair for hundreds of choice picks from dozens of galleries hailing from around the corner and across the world.

The Watermill Center

INFO 631-726-4628, watermillcenter.org

This cauldron of creativity was founded and inspired by renowned theatrical director-rtist Robert Wilson. On select days, the gates are open, and visitors are welcome to see what international dancers, poets, artists, scientists, musicians and more have been creating. There are events and chances to tour the property every month through the season, and a 30th anniversary benefit celebration on July 30.

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