Promised Land Remembered, an exhibition curated by The Victor D’Amico Institute of Art that was featured at The Art Barge earlier this year, is making its way to The Amagansett Library.
The exhibition encompasses works by Mabel D’Amico, early tempera on paper paintings that date back to ca. 1939 to 1940s.
When the D’Amicos landed in Amagansett in the late 1930s, Menhadens (also known as bunker or pogy) were still a widely utilized source for oil and fertilizer, with processing plants at Promised Land, Hicks Island, and Walking Dunes. The couple stayed at a cozy fishing shack in the area, eventually moving to a home close by at Lazy Point. That stay – the buildings, boats, docks, and workers at Promised Land – became the inspiration for a brief series of gouaches on paper Mabel painted during the mid-20th century.
“Promised Land today captivates us as a place of great natural beauty preserved as parkland, but it has a powerfully fascinating, lesser-known history as a significant port that was based on a thriving fishing industry, which fueled the local economy for many years,” reflected Esperanza Leon, Administrative Coordinator, The Victor D’Amico Institute of Art / The Art Barge. “Mabel D’Amico’s paintings bring that period to life and provide an impetus to explore and remember the place, industry, and people that once existed at Promised Land.”
In addition to D’Amico’s paintings, Promised Land Remembered explores the glory days of the former fishing port and menhaden processing plant through a brief historical narrative, period photographs reproduced from local, public collections, including some of Mabel’s that were discovered in the D’Amico Archive. The former fishing port and menhaden processing plant is situated off of Cranberry Hole Road in Amagansett.
Promised Land Remembered will debut on Saturday, November 3. There will be an opening reception on Sunday, November 4, from 1 to 3 p.m., that will include a talk with Christopher Kohan, President of The VDIA, and guest speakers Rachel Gruzen, environmental planner, educator, and co-organizer of the exhibition, and David Clarke, grandnephew of Gilbert P. Smith, founder of the Smith Meal Co. fish factory. They will speak about the D’Amico’s relationship with the Promised Land, the menhaden industry’s history, and more.
“The exhibition along with the talk on Sunday will surely provide new visual and narrative information and answer many questions about Promised Land, including its significance in the cultural history of Amagansett,” Leon explained.
Any local resident who has a connection to the Promised Land may contribute stories (written and oral), documents, or photographs. “We hope also to gain knowledge and insight from the public, so invite people with documentary and anecdotal information to come to the exhibition and share it with us,” Leon noted.
Admission to the opening reception is free, however reserving a spot in advance is required.
Promised Land Remembered will be on display through Friday, November 30.
The Amagansett Library is located at 215 Main Street in Amagansett. For more information, visit theartbarge.org.