Today, Work on Monday looks at piece by well-known and loved Hamptons painter and Dan’s Papers cover artist Grant Haffner. His mixed media painting “Virgil Is Still the Frogboy” marks a slight deviation from the work for which he’s best known, yet it perfectly reflects the artist’s local cred.
Work on Monday is a weekly look at one piece of art related to the East End, usually by a Hamptons or North Fork artist, living or dead, created in any kind of media. Join the conversation by posting your thoughts in the comments below and email suggestions for a future Work on Monday here.
Virgil Is Still the Frogboy
Grant Haffner (North Haven)
Acrylic, marker, pencil and paint-pen on wood panel
14 x 15 inches, 2013
This small painting by North Haven painter and Springs native Grant Haffner isn’t the quintessential example of his propulsive and colorful road paintings (typically featuring the region’s many looming utility poles and power lines), yet it speaks strongly about the artist’s standing as a true local boy. In “Virgil Is Still the Frogboy,” Haffner uses his recognizable style to recreate an East Hampton overpass that is well known to most longtime residents.
The graffiti scrawled on the railroad trestle has come and gone over decades, but always seems to return, a bastion of East Hampton’s local color and “townie” culture. Here, Haffner captures the famous words for posterity, perhaps knowing one day the bridge will be taken down and rebuilt anew—like so many things in his hometown—forever erasing its message.
Placing further importance on this bridge, he removes any background clutter of trees and brush, leaving only the man-made bridge and road, an empty pinkish sky and those black words, “Virgil Is Still the Frogboy.” With his bright colors and zooming lines, Haffner gives viewers a sense of unstoppable forward motion—of speeding ahead while the world passes by—and the bridge comes ever closer, as we anticipate that moment when it finally disappears and we continue down the road.
The metaphor is not lost on many of us.