By GREGORY DE LA HABA, JAN. 2015
Through art mysterious bonds of understanding and of knowledge are established among men. They are the bonds of a great Brotherhood. Those who are of the Brotherhood know each other, and time and space cannot separate them.
– Robert Henri, The Art Spirit
BRIDGEHAMPTON, NY – It is the off season here and brutally cold out. The few stores open year-round look, when driving by, destitute for customers. The road, Montauk Highway, is practically devoid of cars compared to summertime. Parking, like fresh vegetables in August, is seasonally abundant. After driving 90 miles east from New York City, Whitehot Magazine secures a parking spot directly out front Almond Restaurant & Bar located on the far south-eastern corner of this tiny hamlet's charming Main Street. We are here for a gathering of the tribe, or the 'Brotherhood' as Robert Henri puts it. We are here, because we've heard good things about an Artists & Writers Night happening at this place these past couple of years, and because –as artists and writers ourselves– we believe it advantageous between work and sleep to seek such evenings out and participate in them in order we may solidify those 'mysterious bonds' of the faithful. And too, we mustn't forget: the art world is a people business.
When not challenging and destabilizing our perceptual wonts with her architectonic art, the Dave Hickey protégé and fecund sculptor Almond Zigmund plays role as gracious salonnière once a month at her namesake eatery. The packed house feasted on locally sourced fish and chips, salt-n-vinegar kale, winter salad of fennel, citrus and olives perfectly prepared by Almond award-winning chef and co-owner (and husband to said host), Jason Weiner. And then, as if on cue, wine glasses were raised for noted photographer Francine Fleischer as we fêted her latest body of work, SWIM. Created over a three-year period in Mexico, Fleischer's photographs (http://www.francinefleischer.com) capture recreational swimmers (tourists most) motioning about in ancient cavernous pools (called cenotes) like herds of wild water buffalo in measured attempts at finding their way to shore. These deep water swimming holes, lit entirely by day light streaming down from above, are formed naturally when the porous limestone bedrock collapses upon itself and a magical, subterranean water-world emerges; these 'sacred wells' were revered for centuries by the Mayans as clean water sources and spiritual grounds for deity worship. A former camera assistant to Annie Liebovitz and Michel Comte, Francine's attention to detail, light and craft are apparent in these very dramatic, Caravaggio-like, images. And what irony to take in SWIM on this frigid night with the only chill left out in the cold where it belonged while the profuse joie de vivre held court inside, and –like the wine and reciprocal exchange – were expressly wholehearted and flowed as we toasted Almond and partook in her evening's merriment that made us all warm and satisfied.
We asked our host her raison d'être for putting these events together: "I wanted to know that there was a dinner party every month that I could attend with a cast of rowdy characters adding their noise to the quiet East End winter nights –without having to clean up. " Another laugh. Another toast. We said our goodbyes and headed back to the city, thinking only of, and delighting in, the salutary influences had at Ms. Zigmund's salon. The art spirit fully inebriated. WM
Event pictures courtesy Daniel Gonzalez Photography, NYC & East Hampton