East Hampton/ Sag Harbor
At First Glance
The Bonac Tonic art collective was conceived in 2005 with the mantra that “art should be for everyone,” though in truth their members are for the most part professionally-trained artists who have a deep understanding of contemporary art. Based on the East End, this collective encourages guest artists to participate in their “off-the-wall” art events.
Bonac Tonic focuses on exciting art events, and cofounder Grant Haffner says, “Artists are curated in to fit the context of the show with an emphasis on showcasing current work. The space itself and timing of the show also determine how they get curated.” As the collective gained attention and membership grew, Haffner says they shifted their “curating process to include local young artists that have a contemporary flair, who we feel are cutting edge, who are emerging and need to be heard in the local art scene.”
Along with a wide range of art, exhibitions at venues like Ashawagh Hall in Springs have included live music, comedy acts, kids’ games, snake dancers and tables with artist merchandise for sale—all in a carnival-like atmosphere. Bonac Tonic also holds an annual Bring Your Own Art show, where everyone in the community is invited to exhibit.
Bonac Tonic’s approach to collaboration is unique for every show, artist and space, Haffner says. The group’s mission, he explains, is “to throw the most energetic, inviting, fun visual art experience that is memorable and will stay with the viewer. In between shows, studio visits and group hangouts give us the chance to discuss each other’s work and brainstorm ideas for collaborative projects like site-specific installations. In the end, there is an element of spontaneity that we not only look forward to, but thrive on.” In July, Haffner and other Bonac Tonic members will collaborate with the Hayground Camp in Bridgehampton, mounting an art fair with children there to coincide with ArtHamptons.