East Hampton – “SNOW DAY” at The Drawing Room through February 27th, 2022

March 1st, 2022

Wilson Bentley, Snowflake 6 (1900), all images via Georgia Suter for Art Observed
Wilson Bentley, Snowflake 6 (1900), all images via Georgia Suter for Art Observed

Currently on view at The Drawing Room in East Hampton, NY is a group exhibition entitled Snow Day, organized in association with Eric Brown Art Group. The show brings together ten artists, contemporary and deceased, who have engaged with landscapes and the natural world: Wilson Bentley, Jennifer Bartlett, Charles Burchfield, Jack Bush, Lois Dodd, Jane Freilicher, Hector Leonardi, Aubrey Levinthal, Fairfield Porter and Kathryn Lynch. The exhibition juxtaposes photographs, paintings and works on paper. Captured by each artist in the selected body of works is the unique serenity induced by a landscape blanketed in snow.

Wilson Bentley, Snowflake 5 (1900), all images via Georgia Suter for Art Observed
Wilson Bentley, Snowflake 5 (1900), all images via Georgia Suter for Art Observed

Forefront in the exhibition and serving a fitting preface to the group collection of snowscapes are Wilson A. Bentley’s rare photomicrographs of snow crystals. On January 15, 1885, the meteorologist and photographer discovered a way to capture the unique crystalline structures of individual snowflakes by attaching a microscope to a bellows camera and catching flakes on black velvet. Once a snowflake landed, he carefully handled it with a feather to place it under the lens. A pioneer in the field of photomicrography, his work with the delicate crystals helped to establish the theory that “no two snowflakes are alike.” In the later decades of Bentley’s life, he shifted his focus to studying the relationship between storm conditions and structural variations of snowflakes, publishing his findings in scientific journals and producing over 5,000 photographs, most of which are preserved in museum collections. Nine vintage black-and-white snowflake photographs created by Bentley around 1900 are included in the exhibition and represent some of his earliest works.

JaneFreilicher_SnowfallStudy_1999 copy
Jane Freilicher, Snowfall Study (1999)

Turning the corner from the collection of snowflakes the viewer encounters Jennifer Bartlett’s “Sun Valley, December-January 7,” a pastel capturing the artist’s focus on to the topography and weather conditions of the places she visited. Bartlett is known to maintain a drawing routine wherever she travels. By contrast, Jane Freilicher’s “Snowfall Study,” hanging nearby, presents another delicate snowscape study that captures the artists’ sensitivity to her natural surroundings and atmospheric conditions. Like many of her fellow New York School contemporaries in Manhattan, Freilicher spent time on the East End of Long Island, with a studio overlooking Mecox Bay in Watermill. Her works frequently documented both the hazy atmospherics and the landscapes around which they swirled.

JenniferBartlett_December-January 7_ 1996-97
Jennifer Bartlett, December-January 7 (1996-97)

Additional works by artists Charles Burchfield, Jack Bush, Lois Dodd, Hector Leonardi, Aubrey Levinthal and Kathryn Lynch line the room — all capturing white, blanketed landscapes in very disparate ways, and all evoking a shared sense of wonder for a snow-covered natural environment. After gaining an extraordinarily intimate portrait of snow crystals through Wilson Bentley’s black and white photographs, the depth and mystique of each snowscape in the exhibition is heightened.

The show closed February 27th.

– G. Suter

Read more:
The Drawing Room [Exhibition Site]