Adam Stennett on site in Bridgehampton during his month-long endurance/performance The Artist's Survival Shack.

The East Hampton Star, Arts, Opinion, September 2013

Inside the Survival Shack
By Jennifer Landes

There is something spectral about the abandoned structure parked in the middle of Glenn Horowitz Bookseller in East Hampton. Once erected in the woods in the no-man’s-land between Noyac and Bridgehampton, it was the temporary home of Adam Stennett in a self-created artist’s residency executed commando-style. Now, it is the centerpiece of an exhibition devoted to the work he produced there and the time he spent there called “Survival, Evasion and Escape (The Artist’s Studio).”

Solar-powered and self-composting, with worms that still feed on his waste products today, the structure gave him a place to devote himself entirely to his artwork where he could afford the rent and utilities and which freed him from taking another job to support himself. Of course, the day-to-day of survivalist living leads to its own tasks and chores, but certainly nothing as banal as a typical 9-to-5 day.

Packed with equipment, supplies, art, and art-making materials, the 6 1/2-by-9 1/2-foot portable greenhouse structure was organized with maximum efficiency for off-the-grid living and an artist’s eye for self-referential installation. On any given day, one could visit the shack and find the bed neatly made, the garden well tended, the easel and paints ever at the ready, and a number of battery packs feeding off the solar panel. On the precisely made bed, a potato gun with ammunition was laid out along with a gas mask, a Japanese bow, and a convex mirror capable of using sunlight to ignite everything in its path.

The shack and its contents had a certain “everything I’ve ever made” quality about them and neatly set out themes and ideas the artist has been exploring for much of his career. Always fascinated by what could be procured just by trawling the Web, he made the potato gun himself years ago after finding the directions for it in a search result. The Everclear grain alcohol he has featured in paintings can be used in extracting an LSD-type essence from morning glory seeds.

Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who has been alluded to in other works and series by the artist, is present here in the typewriter Mr. Stennett has chosen to place at his desk, the same model Mr. Kaczynski used to type his notes and that was found by investigators in his own woodside cabin.

There was more and more, everywhere you looked, references accreting until everything seemed to circle back on itself, destroying any linear relationship among intention, creation, and meaning.

The way Mr. Stennett previously painted objects related to self-created legal drug highs led him to paint portraits of the objects he included in his shack. A visitor to the shack may have seen a work in progress. On the easel one day was a portrait of sorts of a Civil Defense manual on handling blackouts (presumably the electrical kind), but the double entendre was stressed with the inclusion of a flask. The objects had been photographed and Mr. Stennett was painting them from the two-dimensional image in acrylic on paper. The original manual and flask could also be found in the shack.
On the wall at Glenn Horowitz is a collection of such works, portraits of his toilet, the gas mask, an Army surplus water can, and then more survival objects from the Web, vintage fallout fruitcake and canned water, and more.

This trebling of ideas from real objects to depictions of them once and then twice removed contributes a jumpy, obsessive feeling to the place. On site, Mr. Stennett’s overcaffeinated hyper-articulateness about the project and his aims for it added a real feeling of authenticity to the performance. It felt as if he were spending time in the head of someone who might actually be truly paranoid and radically disengaged from society.

His absence, the survivalist cut loose from his self-made haven, makes the structure seem lacking in its essentialism. Video showing him shooting the potato gun and an LP playing on a vintage record player, with needle popping and a warm, calm voice advising the best way to prepare “if the bomb falls,” provide a human presence, but the gallery can’t help seeming sterile, as if one were viewing it in a laboratory setting, the pristine vitrines only adding to the feeling. It is to the shack’s credit that it can adopt new environments and adapt to them, taking on new meanings depending on the site.

Once again through the assistance of the Internet, Mr. Stennett amassed a collection of golf balls emblazoned with insignias and trademarks of the private and public organizations that have caused most of the paranoia, both legitimate and imagined, over the past century. These include the F.B.I., C.I.A., and N.S.A., to name a few government entities known to lurk in the consciousness of every conspiracy theorist, but also Exxon, Siemens, Halliburton, and others.

Golf and racing are new to the artist’s themes and directly related to the Bridgehampton site he stayed on. It inspired stenciled flags with the word “utopia” printed on them as well as the golf ball collections, including one with a racing motif featuring automobile manufacturing companies and attendant concerns such as Champion spark plugs and Chevron gasoline.

You have to admire the way the guy thinks, finding connections between this work and place and his prior creations vertically, horizontally, and diagonally. It is tempting to take apart each work and examine its various references and meanings, but viewers can perform that task more efficiently on their own. One just needs to get started.

Sometimes it feels as if all the other themes are just an elaborate ruse to distract everyone from arriving at the fact that Mr. Stennett just loves to paint and is great at it. But even if that were true, what a great way to get there.

The show will be on view through Oct 28. The artist will be in residence in the gallery over the Columbus Day weekend, once again living and working in the shack for a 48-hour period.

Gary Wiseman’s in-depth interview with Adam Stennett on the evolution of The Artist’s Survival Shack

Gary Wiseman’s in-depth interview with Adam Stennett on the evolution of The Artist’s Survival Shack

Gary Wiseman's two-part interview with Adam Stennett, written over the course of a year as the Artist's Survival Shack project developed.  

White Hot Magazine, Cities, Whitehot East Hampton, Long Island, August 2013

Adam Stennett: Artist Survival Shack

On August 1, 2013 hyper-realist painter Adam Stennett embarked on a month-long endurance performance in a 6.5 x 9.5 foot survival shack at an undisclosed location on the east end of Long Island. Following is a two-part interview with Stennett regarding the development and deployment of his Artist Survival Shack. Part 1 was conducted at Stennett’s Brooklyn studio on August 22, 2012. Part two was conducted on July 28, 2013 over the Internet with Stennett on location in the Hamptons and the author in Portland, OR.

Stennett’s performance will culminate in an exhibition featuring the shack itself, related paintings and artifacts. The exhibition opens September 7, 2013 at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller in East Hampton, NY. Glenn Horowitz Bookseller will schedule discreet weekly visits to the Artist Survival Shack during the month of August, 2013.

Part 1: Adam Stennett’s Studio. Brooklyn, N.Y. August 22, 2012.

Adam Stennett: So, this is the Shack. It’s fairly small but it also has everything I need to make work and to live. It is six and a half feet by nine and a half feet which is a bit smaller than the Unabomber’s shack. His shack–Ted Kaczynski’s shack–was ten by twelve. Not a ton bigger than this but a little bit.

Gary Wiseman: Like a prison cell or monk’s quarters.

Stennett: Hopefully more like a monk’s quarters. I mean, I do think about my studio as a cave or something like that. A place that I can hunker down and not be distracted by anything. This will actually be the most public working space that I have worked in. So, people can watch, I mean, part of the piece is the performance aspect but I am also very serious about making work and that will be my main focus.

Wisteman: Are you worried that people will bother you or interrupt your concentration?

Stennett: I don’t think so, I mean, I think I will be able to just ignore–I don’t plan to interact with people a lot.

Wiseman: So people will come and look at you through the door while you work?

Stennett: Yeah, I mean, it’s so small in here that maybe they could step through the door. You know, I’ll probably have a chair here [indicates towards the center of the Shack] and this is my painting wall. This is an 160 watt LED light that that is used for video usually.

Wiseman: It’s color corrected?

Stennett: Yeah. I have different screens. This is 3200 which is what I usually paint with. And, you know, I’ll have different sized panels that I can put on here if I am working on bigger pieces.

Wiseman: When you paint with a certain light do you show it in the gallery with the same light?

Stennett: Not always. Usually when I am painting I will light it much brighter than I would ever show it so I can see all the flaws. So, when I am painting I am probably making everything more perfect than it would ever need to be [for] a gallery setting or a collection. It’s probably not good for the painting to be under that bright of light when it is being shown. Yeah, so, this is where I will paint and this is where I will sleep [indicates a cot at the rear of the Shack]. This is my Zen archery set which I got on ebay of course [removes set from cot and sits down] it is called Kyudo.


Wiseman: You use really small brushes.

Stennett: Yeah, fairly small brushes and every mark is a decision, like every object that is in the Shack is a choice. I looked at hundreds of different things before I chose a certain object. When you are trying to distill things down to the minimum necessary and trying to get rid of what you don’t need, every ounce, every curve of something–those choices become really important. This is my sleeping quarters which is an army cot. This is actually the army cot that I have slept in in my studio for years [lays down on cot]. When I was in between living situations I would sometimes paint all night and then crash on the army cot and it’s perfect for me.

Wiseman: I’m noticing a lot of Zen or Buddhist elements in here. Like the prayer flags.

Stennett: Yeah that is something that I added recently. I was looking at them and I was thinking of Mt. Everest. You see them flying at the peak and there is that expedition quality–but then I also like the Buddhist Zen idea.

This is a parabolic mirror and it focuses the sun’s rays. So, if I set this up with the sun behind it at the right angle it will focus–almost like a magnifying glass but stronger–on this cast iron teapot and it will boil water. In nature you may have to tweak things a little bit to make it work but this is kind of everything you would need to make coffee. This is my pot holder which is an old army shooter’s glove so that the trigger finger is free. You boil the water, put some coffee in here, and filter it into the cup. I’ve tried to set [everything] up so you don’t need to buy anything ever. That’s kind of the idea–zero expenses once you start and everything that I begin the performance–or theoretically, life–with in the Shack never needs anything to keep running.

Wiseman: What’s the initial expense to set everything up?

Stennett: Most of the things I am buying on ebay and usually I will watch ten different variations of something close to what I am looking for and watch the auctions. If it goes beyond–I try not to spend more than ten dollars. Sometimes it goes a little bit more [or] less on any one item. The idea is I wanted to build this thing as inexpensively as possible. Ebay actually became one of my best resources for that because I don’t have to go anywhere or spend money on going to the store, taxis, subway, getting here or there and all that stuff–it just shows up and I can also get very good deals. I am making aesthetic choices on ebay. Ebay is an excellent resource for readymades. So I looked at, you know, fifty vintage cast iron teapots and chose this because of the size, color, how it would react with the sun, you know, how it would heat up, but I was also thinking about how it would look in a painting or a photograph.

Wiseman: You are selecting things for quality and longevity as well.

Stennett: Yes, and a timeless quality–not everything because there is some technology involved–but I want everything to look like there is sort of a pioneer spirit to this whole project too–that it could be something that was used hundreds of years ago.


Wiseman: In our previous interview I was struck by how highly disciplined you are with your work. I have recently been reading a book about Robert Irwin. A lot of the things you talk about reminds me of the things that he would do such as spending days alone in the studio staring at a canvass.

Stennett: The preparation is really important. I mean, this project [The Artist Survival Shack] has been four years in preparation which is weird. Because the way that it’s–I haven’t really pushed it–because, um, I have been working on other stuff in and around it and I felt like it needed to grow organically. But now all of the sudden it feels like it has momentum and maybe that’s because it’s grown into something and kind of has a life of its own.

Wiseman: It seems that a lot of the work you have been doing previously is like a series of preparations leading up to this.

Stennett: I think it actually is very related and it’s funny because it’s kind of a different type of thing for me. Normally I’m known for my video art or my painting. I’ve done a little bit of installation stuff but not a lot. But this actually feels like it is very related to everything I’ve done up to this point. It’s kind of in a way what I’ve been training for and now I’ll get to see if it works.

Wiseman: It’s a compelling synthesis of installation and more traditional art making and performance. It’s bringing a lot of different things together. It’s kind of–I’m thinking a little bit about Paul Thek. He did these performances and made these objects and even did some two dimensional work but it was all interrelated.

Stennett: I’ve always thought it was important–I used to do some writing too and, you know, a good writing professor will tell you to write what you know–and so with my work I always try to bring all of my experiences to the work–try to pull the work out of my life experiences. And so this piece is really a synthesis of what I have learned as an artist making art in a studio and how–moving to New York and trying to survive and trying to beat the system in a way so you can work less and paint more, make art more. New York is a really tough place to survive and so you have to be very disciplined and you have to be very serious about finding ways to need less or to have more time. In a way this is sort of an artist escape pod.


Part 2: On-site at the Artist Survival Shack. The Hamptons, N.Y.
July 28, 2013.

Wiseman: So, How are you feeling since we last spoke?

Stennett: I feel pretty good. A little overwhelmed thinking that this is going to start in just a few days. I have been living and working in the Shack since the 15th [of July] getting set up but I’ve been able to take trips to the store and get supplies if I don’t have something. I haven’t been needing to be completely self sufficient so far. Oh, there is a helicopter going overhead.

Wiseman: I wondered what that sound was. I thought you were in the middle of nowhere.

Stennett: I am in the middle of nowhere but helicopters fly over a lot.

Wiseman: Somehow that seems appropriate. The last time I saw you was about 11 months ago. I was on a layover in NYC and you were kind enough to invite me over to see a new project called the Artist Survival Shack you had been working on for about 3 years. Is that correct?

Stennett: Yeah, I’d been thinking about it for that long. At that point I’d been focusing on it, for about a year and then two years of fairly focused work to get to this point.

Wiseman: When we last spoke it seemed that the material aspects of the work had predominantly been realized. You were beginning to turn your attention towards finding a place to show it and perform with it which is something new for you. This has since happened. You set the Shack up July 11-14, 2013 on the grounds of the Bridgehampton Historical Society in cooperation with artMRKT Hamptons–a 96 hour test run. How did it go?

Stennett: It went well. I think it was good to do. It’s the first time I had it outside. I built it in my studio. It was a good opportunity to get it outside and troubleshoot any major problems or things I didn’t think of and also a good teaser for the performance. The reaction was pretty good. There was a lot of attention, people seemed compelled by the idea.

Wiseman: Where was it situated within artMRKT? Was it in a fairly public location?

Stennett: It was on the grounds of the Bridgehampton Historical Society. There was a kind of white picket fence around the grounds and you went through the entrance on main street–Highway 27–which is where everybody has to drive through to get to the Hamptons is right in front. The Jitney is like a luxury bus that goes from New York City to the Hamptons that a lot of people take. There’s a stop right there so a lot of people were waiting for the bus standing probably about 100 yards away. The Shack was in the middle of a field–more of like a lawn I guess–much more manicured than the location I’m in now. The entrance to the show went under this covered walk way on the other side of the building so most of the installations–there were a couple besides mine–I was off to the side under this beautiful 150 year old tree as far on the outskirts as I could be because I wanted to be a little bit isolated. I didn’t want it to be a circus. It worked out well. People had to kind of know I was there or have heard about it to come search me out I think. The gallery Glenn Horowitz Bookseller–Jess Frost is the director there–she really helped me with a big part of the logistics of all of this. She had a booth in the tent that had a couple of my paintings and a couple of photos and if people were interested she would direct them to come see me outside.

Wiseman: So there’s the dichotomy between the self aware critical irony towards these extreme ways of thinking and behaving and the more serious side in which you are actually utilizing some of these same strategies and methodologies in creating the work. I am curious about what appears to be a kind of dialectic at play here. You seem to be taking a middle path. Perhaps this relates to Zen practice? You mentioned that your process has been informed by Zen. I bring this up because in this country we live in a very polarized political climate and I wonder if this project is also a lens through which to examine that as well. There are many dichotomies here and by examining ideas that would usually be immediately rejected by the average person and asking how you might incorporate them into your life in a beneficial way you create a compelling scenario for us.

Stennett: Being able to examine your surroundings and experiences and see them through clear eyes is difficult now with all of the filters that we have. I guess it’s been difficult for a long time. A lot of the research I did early on with this Shack project involved civil defense and Cold War stuff, propaganda, fear, paranoia that the government pushed to feed its military industrial complex and to achieve certain goals that it had, and things like that continue to happen now. The Shack in a way is as much about mental survival as it is about physical survival and being able to detach from that circus of images and news and ideas and things we get caught up in and thinking are important and distilling that down to what really is important and what you need to survive physically and spiritually and to have ideas that are clear and are your own–to create a space for that to happen. So I guess I would say in a way it has a political angle. So much of our lives are controlled by . . . politics and propaganda, fear and paranoia. You know, we are jumping through all of these hoops and running in circles because we think we need to I guess. Meanwhile we’re missing out on a lot of stuff that could be fulfilling. So, the idea that the Shack is 6.5 by 9.5 feet and I focused on making it the smallest possible footprint and still be functional is that idea–thinking differently about what we need and what an artist needs to live and work and how that can be made by thinking outside the box.

Wiseman: I suspect more of us are going to have to think along those lines as time goes on.

Stennett: Yeah, it’s pretty . . . I mean, there have been some challenges but I have to say that in the evenings and in the morning I just sit outside the Shack in this beautiful field and it’s really pretty idyllic and I’m like, why would you need much more than this? I could be pretty happy living and working like this. It’s a bit tighter quarters than I expected once I got all my stuff in here. It’s definitely a little bit like being on a boat but it’s also really beautiful and nice at times beyond the challenges.

Wiseman: The purpose of all of this is to make paintings?

Stennett:  Paintings and other things.

Wiseman: Did you get much work done in the test run?

Stennett: Not a lot. I did work on one painting well during those four days and I did kind of finish that painting–there wasn’t a lot to do on it–but mostly I was talking to people. There was a steady stream of people coming in and I was telling them about the project and the gallery had a press release about the project and the upcoming longer [piece] so I didn’t have to be a complete informational guide. A lot of tweaking with the Shack and making sure that things were working. I actually did learn a lot during those four days that I have used and been valuable in getting set up out here.

I expected that it would be hot as it is a greenhouse but it became pretty quickly apparent that shade would be really important. Luckily I had planned for that by bringing some materials along that I could customize to the Shack. The sides of the Shack that are South facing have this reflective insulation material otherwise it would be pretty much uninhabitable. I’ve also removed some panels and replaced them with screens so I get a nice breeze through.



Hamptons Magazine,  Volume 25, Issue 12

Living Art
By Stacy Goergen

"You're the first person I've seen in days," says Adam Stennett, as he emerges from his makeshift camp to greet me. "This is my artist survival shack," he states simply, gesturing toward the 6.5-by-9.5 foot customized structure (called an ("off the grid artist survival shack"), where he is living and working in near isolation for the month of August. East Hampton's Glenn Horowitz Bookseller will exhibit the shack and the art he produces during the off-site performance, Adam Stennet: Survival, Evasion, and Escape (The Artist's Studio), opening September 7.

Tucked behind a rolling hill, off a quiet private road on the grounds of the exclusive Bridge golf club, the artist is creating works for the show in the structure he repurposed himself using an aluminum greenhouse kit for the skeleton. Inside his tidy, orderly shelter is an expertly turned-down army cot and a desk holding various survival manuals, knives, brochures, and a vintage typewriter. An easel displays a work in progress and large, flat folders with finished paintings lean against one wall. "I like to keep it pretty organized," he explains. "It's like a boat: It's incredibly small, so it starts to get cluttered quickly, and then its less functional."

Stennett conceived of the project over the past five years. "I have been thinking about the issues artists who live and work in New York bump up against and have to overcome," he explains. "One of the continual challenges for me is how to survive, meet my expenses, and be able to make my own work. There have been times when I have been able to live off my artwork for years and times when I have had to take other jobs and I've had much less time to make my work. Thats a very difficult thing for an artist". Living off the grid plays with the notion of the outsider artist and survivalist, and the dwelling is filled with relics ranging from bomb shelter manuals to conspiracy-theory documents. Stennett assembles these objects, photographs them, and uses photos to make his paintings. The exhibition will also include an arrangement of artifacts in vitrines.

Tracey Talks / Adam Stennett: Survival Evasion and Escape (The Artist’s Studio)

Tracey Talks / Adam Stennett: Survival Evasion and Escape (The Artist’s Studio)

Tracey Talks, Tracey Jackson's Blog, August 2013

Surviving As An Artist
By Tracey Jackson

Being an artist is hard. It’s often not an issue of talent but survival of the fittest. There is a deeply Darwinian aspect to it.  One might not call him an artist by any stretch of the imagination but Dick Wolf who brought the world fifty versions of   Law and Order once said, “The person who survives in show business is the person who stays in show business.”  This can be true of all disciplines of the arts.

While Adam Stennett is not pop TV producer he is a visual artist and  his latest work The Artist Survival Shack addresses some of these issues along with many others.

On August 1, 2013, Adam Stennett began a month-long installation/endurance performance, living and working in a 6.5 x 9.5 foot, self-sufficient, off-the-grid survival shack at an undisclosed location on the East End of Long Island. The supplies, food and water he arrived with were all he had access to, and he did not leave the area for the thirty-one day duration of the performance. This exhibition is the culmination of that experiment.

The Artist Survival Shack project has developed over the last several years, its impetus based in the artist’s struggle to carve out time and space to make artwork in an economically and spiritually challenging environment. It is a study in what is really necessary for an artist to live and thrive, and it functions on both serious and absurd levels.

The Shack calls attention to the outsider/outlaw role artists have traditionally been accorded by society and draws an implicit, and uncomfortable, parallel between the activities of the solitary artist pursuing his vision and those of the lone madman plotting havoc. The project is meant to raise varied themes—ranging from environmentalism, green design, sustainable agriculture, mind-altering substances, visionary states, and utopia, to paranoia, separatism, surveillance, security, economic collapse, and apocalypse—and to hold them all in an uneasy tension.

When Stennett came out of his shack for a brief spell the other day it was his first time in the company of other people for twenty-six days.  He was present but one could see for the first few minutes he was doing some serious adjusting.

I was very moved and intrinsically  understood when Adam spoke about the artist having to fight for a space in the world; a space where they could survive financially by merely doing their work. Every artist suffers from the overriding fear that his livelihood could be in jeopardy at any given moment.

Is this my last gallery show, my last book, my last film, my last sale?  If there is a next one will it be a success and lead to the next step, or will it be a failure and I will go back to the beginning and wait tables or have to teach?

While Stennett is living out in the “wild” without anything but himself and a few supplies for survival he is meditating on this and other topics. But this search for what it takes for an artist to survive led him to the literal act of survival. In the  one month of this Thoreau type existent would he find the answers?  While facing his fears might he in the process lose them?  And of course, ultimately what is the most important thing for an artist – what kind of work might come out of this?

Stennett is very talented and deeply contemplative. I think The Artist Survival Project has not only erased some of his very primal fears, but it has and will take his work to a new level.

The entire project will be on display at Glenn Horowitz Booksellers in East Hampton for the next month.

East Hampton Press: Going Off The Grid at Art Mrkt

East Hampton Press: Going Off The Grid at Art Mrkt

27 East, powered by The South Hampton Press and The East Hampton Press, July 2013

Getting Off The Grid At artMRKT
By Michelle Trauring

The 96 hours of artMRKT Hamptons will be a test for Brooklyn based painter Adam Stennett. The clock will start ticking on Thursday, July 11, at 6 p.m. and won’t stop until Sunday, July 14, at 6 p.m. Early on Thursday morning, Mr. Stennett
will arrive on the grounds of the Bridgehampton Historical Society and begin to set up for artMRKT. There, he will unpack his latest project, the Artist Survival Shack—a nearly 62squarefoot, modified greenhouse skeleton. Once the show is over, the Artist Survival Shack will move from the test stage and into a more concrete reality. Beginning August 1, Mr. Stennett and his vision will be camped out for the long haul; a monthlong artistic performance at an undisclosed location here on the East End. Starkly juxtaposed by the spate of surrounding estates synonymous with the Hamptons, the Artist Survival Shack will surely make a statement. Serving as a backdrop, the third annual art sale—all 23,000 square feet of it, not to mention millions of dollars worth of artwork from 40 international galleries—will be just steps
away, cofounder Max Fishko explained. “I think the scale of what we’re presenting has this casted assumption that comes along with it,” Mr. Fishko said during a telephone interview last week from his headquarters in Brooklyn. “If you have 40 galleries, the assumption is the galleries have been vetted a little bit, curated a little bit. They have been selected for particular reasons. It’s more of a true boutique, rather than a mall. We focus largely on contemporary work and the emerging and midcareer spectrum.”

Best known for his oil and acrylic work, 41year old Mr. Stennett fits right in with the contemporary artMRKT aesthetic, although his Artist Survival Shack will sit outside the venue. Conceptually, the shack is an amalgamation of Mr. Stennett’s life experiences: his love for building, science and art coupled with unrelenting struggle—bartering safety and comfort for artistic freedom while constantly warring over time spent painting versus satisfying his bill payments, he said. A potential solution is living off the grid, the artist explained last week during a telephone interview. He began about a year ago by buying a 6½ foot by 9 ½foot aluminum and polycarbonate greenhouse for $950. Then, he got to work. Outfitted with a 100 watt solar panel generator, a 55 gallon rainwater collection system, a solar hot water heater and shower, a 36 shoe pouch vertical grow wall and trellis, a worm composting toilet, an 11 gallon portable urine collection system and a variety of furnishings—including an army cot with mosquito netting, gas mask, solar stove and coffee maker using a parabolic mirror, pocket radio, rat traps, a sling shot, machete, Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags, vintage bamboo wind chimes, food, emergency water, clothing, laptop, typewriter, camera and, perhaps most important, his art materials—the bomb shelteresque Shack is completely selfsufficient, he said. Its use explores themes of environmentalism, green design, sustainable agriculture and utopia paired against separatism, economic collapse, paranoia and apocalypse.

Everything Mr. Stennett arrives in Bridgehampton with will be all that he has, as he is not allowed to leave the general vicinity of the Shack to pick up more supplies, he reported. This is meant to be a physically and spiritually grueling experience, he said, and his focus will be creating a new body of work, including paintings, video and a journal, which will be on display at the Glenn Horowitz Bookseller gallery in East Hampton this fall. “I hope this doesn’t sound totally insane,” Mr. Stennett laughed. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time.”

Two weeks after graduating from Willamette University in Oregon, Mr. Stennett—who was born in Alaska—hopped a plane to New York with an Army duffel bag and nowhere to spend the night. He was young, fresh and incredibly naïve, he said. The year was 1994. He lived in raw, unorthodox spaces and dangerous neighborhoods, sleeping on a cot in his studio. “I found an apartment in Williamsburg. It was a bit different than it is now,” he said. “Forty artists living there, one place to get a bagel, one bar and everything else was boarded up. I got held up at gunpoint my first night there.” His goal has always been to work less and paint more, he said, and he thinks he has achieved it with the Shack. “What is the minimum someone can get by with to live and work, and what do you really need to be happy and do what you love?” the artist posed. “That’s what this Shack is about. Right now, I’m building this box, this crate, that when it opens up, it will become the floor of the Shack. The idea is that it can be pretty easily shipped or strapped onto the roof of my truck and taken anywhere in the world. You could set it up on the beach somewhere, the mountains somewhere. If you have a piece of land to stick it on, you’re set.” For starters, it will rest in Bridgehampton. And depending on interactions with his audience at artMRKT, he may release the Shack’s future location for bartering purposes: survival supplies for artwork. “I’m leaving parts of it openended, so it’s a surprise,” he said. “The crazier I go in a month in a shack, the more interesting the work may be, you know?” He laughed and said, “I don’t plan to go off the deep end.”

Adam Stennett: Artist Survival Shack East Hampton Star

Adam Stennett: Artist Survival Shack East Hampton Star

The East Hampton Star, July 2013

Double the Fairs; Double the Fun: ArtHamptons and artMRKT Open to Capacity Crowds on Thursday
By Jennifer Landes

ArtHamptons and artMRKT opened on Thursday night to crowds happy to take in the art in the various gallery booths and other related performances and activities. Those walking into ArtHamptons at Nova's Ark in Bridgehampton were greeted by Larry Rivers's leg sculpture. Those entering artMRKT at the Bridgehampton Historical Society from Main Street could witness Adam Stennett executing a trial run of a survivalist performance piece he will do at an undisclosed location in August. Mr. Stennett was already collecting water and had his outdoor shower set up; a cot and an easel where he worked on a new painting. Having slept for only two hours the night before after spending a good portion of it setting up, he was a bit tired but happy to answer questions and point out the things he had on site to get him through the weekend. Adam Stennett had everything he needed for a 96-hour run through of his "Artist Survival Shack" project, where he will live as a survivalist at an undisclosed South Fork location beginning in August.

Adam Stennett: Artist Survival Shack Hamptons Art Hub

Adam Stennett: Artist Survival Shack Hamptons Art Hub

Hamptons Art Hub, July 2013

Art Review: Outdoor Installations at the Hamptons Art Fairs

Inside the large white tents of the art fairs, glamour, decadence and fine art are on high display. But outside of artMRKT Hamptons—squatting along some of the most expensive real estate in the country—a group of installations focus instead on the underbelly of our consumerist society. Collectively, the works explore the question of how artists manage to create and survive the shark-infested waters of the high-stakes art market.

In one form or another, all artists are concerned with survival. Not only having enough money to pay their bills and put food on the table, but with the survival of their own free spirits and their ability to create timeless work. Time is the ultimate luxury, commodity, and necessity for an artist: time to work, to think, to talk, to paint and to create.

artMKRT Hamptons:

Artist Survival Shack: 96 Hour Test Run
Adam Stennett, 2013
Presented by Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, Inc. | Reception Entrance

Adam Stennett has found a unique way to give himself the gift of time. In Artist Survival Shack: 96 Hour Test Run, Stennet has set up his 6.5 x 9.5 foot off-the-grid artist survival shack on the grassy banks near artMKRT Hamptons’s Main Street entrance. For the duration of the fair, Stennett installation/performance serves as a test run for an upcoming month-long stay in August (apparently on the estate of a wealthy collector).

Made out of aluminum and polycarbonate, Stennett’s greenhouse skeleton includes everything an artist needs for survival “So,” he said, “I can make my art.” Stennett went on to explain that after coming to New York as a young man and working in a series of jobs, he no longer had time to paint. He began to wonder what was essential to his survival and decided to create an environment that reflected his distillation process.

In his installation, Stennett has a cot, a 55-gallon rainwater collection system, a portable toilet, solar recharable AA and AAA batteries, a pocket radio, a solar stove for cooking oatmeal, and couscous, and a grow wall that includes basil, tomatoes and spinach. Along the way, Stennett said he began to accumulate items that were essential to his spiritual survival: an easel; paints; a vintage typewriter; a Japanese bow and arrows to practice meditative Zen archery; a Tibetan Buddhist prayer flag; wind chimes; and a potato gun he made from PVC pie which uses a barbeque ignition and Aquanet hairspray to ignite.

“It’s symbolic,” Stennett said. “It’s absurdly powerful.”
Artist Adam Stennett outside of "Artist Survival Shack: 96 Hour Test Run"

Visiting Stennett in the midst of the art fair extravaganza is a refreshing relief from the high-octane deal-making going on inside the tents. He’s alone in his shed painting images of some of the bric-a-brac that make up his world. One image caught my eye, an acrylic painting of (and titled) A Field Guide to Psilocybin Mushrooms done on his small and retro artist’s easel. In fact, his shed is full of strange books and rows of vials that once contained substances like Ephedrine, which Stennett says artists have used over the years in order to create.

At times, I felt Stennett’s statements endearingly naïve—that Japanese Zen bow—until I remembered some of the extremes the artists I knew growing up took, even after great success, to stay in touch with their creative edge. I thought of Mark Rothko who, though he was a wealthy man, preferred to live like a poor man in his studio at the end of his life—close to his art.

Stennett says we all have to choose what to sacrifice and what to hang onto in this life. If you wanted to see one man’s choices, visit Stennett in his Artist Survival Shack.

Matthew Brannon’s Work Brings Laconic Levity to Glenn Horowitz Bookseller

Matthew Brannon’s Work Brings Laconic Levity to Glenn Horowitz Bookseller

East Hampton Patch, News, Art and Entertainment, July 2013

Matthew Brannon's Work Brings Laconic Levity to Glenn Horowitz Bookseller
By Andrew Lenoir

Glenn Horowitz Bookseller’s latest show, Matthew Brannon: Midlife Crisis Intermission, opened this past Saturday, June 29 and will remain up till July 27.

Brannon’s work displays a style reminiscent of Mad Men-esque midcentury advertising aesthetic and utilizes a droll sense of humor through juxtaposed text that mocks social, academic, business and political mores. The show ranges from mock ups of Vodka bottle advertisements with words like “Your new worst secret” to a collection of film awards with a paragraph describing the trials and tribulations surrounding documentarian’s new film about student- professor sexual relationships. Apart from creating the visual elements of his pieces, all of the text used in Brannon’s work is of his own composition.

The thirteen single edition prints, a collection of letterpress prints dating from 2008 to 2013, are paired with the release of Brannon’s new book, a collaboration with American Psycho and Less Than Zero author, Brett Easton Ellis, entitled, Mr. Brett Easton Ellis/ Mr. Matthew Brannon. The book consists of a collection of Brannon’s favorite excerpts from Ellis’ books Less Than Zero and Lunar Park,  paired with several of Brannon’s illustrations. Mr. Brett Easton Ellis/ Mr. Matthew Brannon will run in a limited release of 250 copies. 150 of that run are signed by the artist and will be sold for $175. Another 90, signed by both Brannon and Ellis, and contained in a special slipcase of Brannon’s design will be sold for $500. Additionally, 10 special edition copies will be sold containing original artwork by Brannon for $3,750.

According to gallery director, Jess Frost, the show is indicative of the kind of work Glenn Horowitz Bookseller— half rare bookstore, half art gallery— is interested in bringing to East Hampton. “Brannon’s work represents the mash up of the literary and art worlds which Glenn is really into,” Frost said, “and Letter Press theme really lends itself to first edition rare books.”

Hamptons Magazine features Matthew Brannon: Midlife Crisis Intermission

Hamptons Magazine features Matthew Brannon: Midlife Crisis Intermission

Hamptons Magazine 

First Edition: East Hampton's Glenn Horowitz bookseller displays Matthew Brannon's letterpress prints, in conjuction with his new book with Bret Easton Ellis
By Stacey Goergen

To coincide with the launch of artist Matthew Brannon's new book, Mr. Bret Easton Elliss / Mr. Matthew Brannon, a collaboration with writer Bret Easton Elliss, Glenn Horowitz Bookseller is presenting Matthew Brannon: Midlife Crisis Intermission, an exhibition featuring 10 of the artist's letterpress prints dating from 2008 to 2012. Brannon very deliberately makes prints in editions of one, rejecting the traditional multiple format, and elevating the significance of the printed object. It is the first time these pieces have been shown in the US. In addition, Brannon has created three new works for the exhibition, inspired by the book.

For the book collaboration, Brannon selected passages from two of Ellis's seminal works, Lunar Park and Less Than Zero. Mr Brett Ellis / Mr. Matthew Brannon is a numbered, limited edition of 250 in jacketed wrappers, 90 of which will be signed by the artist and writer; of these, 10 deluxe editions will come with a scriptural object.

Text is central to Brannon's practice. He juxtaposes images and words, creating an irresolvable tension that blurs reality and fiction. One new work depicts a bottle of Wolfschmidt vodka with the phrase YOUR NEW WORST SECRET. At first blush, the work could be a standard advertisement; it takes a moment to realize that the words and images are not selling or celebrating anything. "There is a camouflage to my work that slows down perceptions," says Brannon. "It's flat-footed and distressing at the same time."

Brannon relates this to Ellis's work, suggesting why the excerted texts of disaffected and drug-soaked youth complement his images in the book. "My work is often about drowning one's feelings," notes Brannon. "It looks innocent, but it's really very sinister."

Dan’s Hamptons: Still Life With Pots

Dan’s Hamptons: Still Life With Pots

Dan's Papers, Arts and Entertainment, June 2013

Still Life With Pots at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller
By Marion Wolberg Weiss

The title of the current show at East Hampton’s Glenn Horowitz Bookseller may seem a bit disconcerting, but we can assure you it’s not. Jonas Wood’s drawings/paintings and Shio Kusaka’s porcelain vases make a perfect pairing, although it’s not immediately noticeable. While the artists have never shown together before, the exhibit is all the more meaningful because they are also a married couple, having met as students at the University of Washington. What is also meaningful is the similarities in their work, which brings up an interesting point. Do artistic couples tend to influence each other? The answer remains ambiguous in this show, but it’s still challenging to observe commonalities, especially for both this art critic and Glenn Horowitz’s curator, Jess Frost.

It’s not simply the pieces’ formal qualities that strike complementary chords. It’s their subtle tone and ambience that seem the same, a sublime sensibility that combines minimalist and decorative elements. Wood’s works are concise, with diagonal lines forming minimal patterns that are light and airy. Some pieces feature vases, resembling Kusaka’s ceramics, holding protruding, graceful foliage. The leaves evoke diagonal lines as well.

Kusaka’s vessels convey a similar feeling of lightness and a bit of whimsy that provide comfort. Lines are also important in the vases, suggesting both structure and a sense of freedom. The same could be said of Wood’s linear composition. What’s particularly fascinating is the way Kusaka’s structure is in direct opposition to certain imperfections: for example, the mouth of a black vase is uneven; some markings (lines) are often not straight and wiggle across a work’s surface.

Wood’s drawings and paintings of interiors (not shown in this exhibit) have little in common with his wife’s works (although he sometimes uses some vases in an interior piece, like a dining room.) It’s curious to note that these interiors are also influenced by Matisse, with their elaborate patterns, and perhaps Greek urns, which Wood liked to draw. Another inspiration may derive from folk art, which features “flatness.” We are not suggesting that Wood is a folk artist, but the connection to his environment is similarly intense.

Many interiors, however, are similar to Wood’s own work in the exhibition. One of his drawings has a grid-like line that divides his vessels into separate spaces, recalling an interior filled with bird cages. (The grid configuration in the interior is much more delineated.) Another interior image of a greenhouse features diagonal lines on the roof, recalling Wood’s shapes in his current drawings at Glenn Horowitz.

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