With a history spanning nearly 75 years, the East Hampton Artists & Writers Charity Softball Game has established itself as a celebration of local creatives and a fundraiser for important South Fork charities, but l he organization behind the event strives to make it something much more than an annual softball game. As part of this growth, the board held a special meeting Spring training 2022 art exhibition to benefit the game’s usual charities – spanning the circle of life, from early learning to palliative care – and it opens with a reception at the Kathryn Markel Gallery in Bridgehampton (2418 Montauk Highway) this Saturday, March 5 from 5 to 7 p.m. The show will continue on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., throughout March.
Artists and Writers Council President Ronnette Riley says Kathryn Markel donated her gallery space to Spring training 2022, and the show will be hosted by volunteers from the organizations it benefits – including The Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center, Phoenix House Academy, The Retreat and East End Hospice – who will receive 60% of each work sold, while participating artists get the other 40%. So far, 30 artists have donated their work and four writers are scheduled to read at the show: Zack O’Malley Greenburg (Empire State of Spirit), Paul Winum (Inside CEO Succession: The Essential Guide to Leadership Transition), Gabrielle Bluestone (Hype: How Scammers, Scammers and Scammers Are Taking Over the Internet and Why We Follow) and David Andelman (A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today).
“For artists, we have a pretty big mix of age groups. And also well-known artists, especially in the area, and other pieces that are more outdoor works of art,” Riley says, pointing out that some pieces on the show are sports-themed, but most artists simply did what they do best. . “You can’t tell artists what to paint, so we have a combination of work,” she adds, describing a wide range of styles and media, such as painting, photography, sculpture and pieces of art. mixed media, and an equally varied price range. .
“In terms of price, we have things that are $100 and we have things that are several thousand at the show. And the idea that 60% of that will be a tax deduction, a write-off because it’s going to charity, I think that’s a great idea. Plus, people should have fun with art,” Riley says, naming artists like Andy Friedman, who painted a series of Topps baseball cards, hyperrealist woodcarver Randall Rosenthal, illustrator Lynn Matsuoka, longtime Expressionist painters Stephanie Brody-Lederman and William Quigley. Artist Team Captain Leif Hope, Figurative Artist RJT Haynes, Abstract Artist Shira Toren, Cynthia Karalla who creates sculptures based on the Muller reportand humorous artist Peter Wood, to name a few.
With all the big name players and participants over the years including Alec Baldwin, Ross Bleckner, Ben Bradlee, Christie Brinkley, Matthew Broderick, Dick Cavett, President Bill Clinton, Taylor Hanson, Dustin Hoffman, Abbie Hoffman, Peter Matthiessen, Jay McInerney, George Plimpton, Lori Singer, Martha Stewart, Tom Wolfe and so many others, the game of artists and writers has long had the power to become bigger than just a game of softball, and Riley hopes to follow that idea to bring in more money for charity all year round.
“The thing is, we’ve had a board for many years, but it’s not a membership organization. You do not pay membership fees. One of our new initiatives, which we are also launching in March, is to create a secondary group called Friends of Artists and Writers,” she says. “Because we have a whole bunch of people who do various things for us, but they’re not on the board,” Riley continues, pointing out that not everyone can play in the game, but they can always defend the cause. “We’re hoping that as we expand, people who have skin in the game, so to speak, who have a role, will help us do other things. So we came up with a lot of ideas.
Another unique aspect of the game of artists and writers, and events like the Spring training 2022 exhibition and sale of art, it is the participation of volunteers from the associations they support. “Our charities aren’t just the beneficiaries, and I think that’s what makes it special as well,” says Riley. “We are a non-profit organization, but we transfer the money to other non-profit organizations. And they don’t just wait for a check, they help us and participate, and are part of the game,” she explains. “I don’t think people realize that the Phoenix House, these young men come in and they set it up and then they take it down, they clear the grounds. Hospice manages the gate and organizes this level. Everyone has a role. I love that charities are actually involved in the success of the game. And they will be involved in the success of this art exhibit.
Learn more about the East Hampton Artists & Writers Charity Softball Game, including its history and a full list of past players, at awgame.org.