BY SHANTI ESCALANTE-DE MATTEIPlus IconJuly 13, 2021 9:55am
Part group show, part musical experience, part studio tour, part party: Campo Cuttica is not something you’d want to miss. Eugenio Cuttica found success as an artist in his home country Argentina with solo exhibitions at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Mar del Plata (MAR). Facing the next step in his career with a portrait series set to show at the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, D.C. next year, Eugenio and his family are fostering the next generation of talent on the 40-acre property they own in in the town next to Riverhead where the North and South forks of Long Island split.
The property encompasses a metalworking studio, a home that is part tree-house and part modular spaceship, a barn, and a pond. This is where Cuttica’s—Eugenio and his sons Lautaro and Franco—live along with some six other artists in residence. Here is where they also hosted their semi-annual Campo Cuttica Open Studio event. A group show for the artists in residence, party goers wander between the studios and barns full of art with a glass of wine or a bit of Chorizo in hand. As musicians arrive, portions of the party will seat themselves on the couches in the main barn to listen to music or dance on the sidelines. The house, full of the family’s personal collection, is also open for a personal tour, if you ask nicely. The mingling crowd eventually dissolves into an impromptu dance party, but once the morning comes, the compound will once again shut its doors, giving its artists the privacy and quiet they need to create.
The event began at a Hampton’s private school as “The Aesthetic Experience,” organized by Ken Sacks, then a philosophy teacher. Sacks wanted to give his students a chance to display their artistic talents and musical abilities. Franco Cuttica participated in one of the early events. He and Sacks would reconnect later as Franco developed an audience for his driftwood sculptures of horses. That Franco would often light them on fire at the beach only made them attract a bigger audience.
The Cutticas originally lived in East Hampton for more than a decade before they moved three years ago to Flanders, a village on Peconic Bay just inside Suffolk County from Hampton Bays in New York. When the Cuttica family moved with their studios, they decided to revive and update the “aesthetic experience.” Instead of a student showcase, it would now be a group show of all the artists who are in residency on the property.
Franco Cuttica thinks the location of the compound has worked out in their favor. “Having the property here,” he says while grilling Chorizo the Argentine way, “it’s a way to unite the art scenes happening in the North Fork and the South Fork because we’re right in the middle. Of course we’ve been having a lot of people coming in from the city too.”
The Cuttica’s land has its own East End origin story. In East Hampton, the farmland is often protected. But in Flanders, there’s a different story. The sculptor Gloria Kisch moved to Long Island in 1993 and after years of living and working in the area. She wanted her land to be a preserve for a different kind of wildlife, for artists and their pursuits. She worked with the town of Southampton to create specific conservation constraints on her plot of land. Her goal was to assure herself that the land would continue to be useful to artists while protecting it from becoming bulldozed over for yet another mansion. After her death in 2014, the land languished for a couple of years before the Cuttica’s acquired it.
The Campo Cuttica Open Studio is a celebration of that land—and what the Cuttica’s feel they have to offer their larger artistic community. “I think our mission is to just keep growing ,” Lauturo Cuttica says, “and making this place more and more professional with more art to look at, especially outdoors. We know this place is going to turn into something of its own, just like Storm King or the Longhouse Reserve.”
While the light-hearted exhibition seems to share little with those staid institutions at this time, it’s easy to see a new guard of artists making the most of this rare stretch of land and the opportunity the Cuttica’s are offering. The party represents the best of what the compound has to offer. It’s refreshingly multi-generational, a natural product of the mix of people living on the property. The music is live, dogs are panting under a table smeared with dollops of oil paint, and there’s beer in the cooler. Leaning on the side of the barn is one of Eugenio’s self-portraits, almost as tall as the building itself.
Ken Sacks, whose teenaged daughter opened the event with her band Dink, thinks the party is different from what you’d typically see in the Hamptons. “It’s either young people or dinosaurs,” he says of the scene further East, “no in-between.”