Marilyn Reis and Jack Small have a bit of a collection.
“We started in 2002, going down the stairwell and into the basement. We used the covers as wallpaper,” Marilyn says.
The covers she’s referring to are from Dan’s Papers.
“But then I thought, ‘These are just too nice for downstairs in the basement.’ People don’t normally decorate their garage with art, so I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ We started putting the covers in frames and hanging them wherever there’s empty wall space.”
Reis and Small have spent their summers on the East End since the late 1970s. Both are lovers of modern, eclectic art and entertaining at their house on Two Holes of Water Road in East Hampton.
“What attracts me first is color,” she says of the covers she chooses for her walls. “Then second is subject matter. One of the ones I remember most is from after 9/11, the cover was a flag. We cut it out and pasted it onto our window in Manhattan. If there’s an emotional connection, I’ll find room for it. What it makes me do is read Dan’s Papers because I want to find out more about the artist, and then it gets me into all the other sections.”
Jack has been friends with Joe Chierchio, whose paintings frequently appear as on the front of Dan’s Papers, since the 1960s and purchased one of his original covers at the Dan’s Papers 50th Anniversary Party.
Marilyn and Jack stand in the background discussing the particulars of the displayed covers: Who chose the one of the jumping horse or the Adirondack deck chairs, the pair of bare legs cast in dreamy summer shadow, or birds in flight above the sound? They images are touchstones—links to the many summers they have spent in this house with their children and grandchildren.
For the past 11 years, they have hosted a “Letter Party” on the last Saturday in July. “All the food, the drinks, the decorations begin with the same letter [this summer it’s G], and the guests must wear a costume of something that begins with the letter,” Jack says. They ask that if guests bring anything, it is a check made out to a charity beginning with the letter as well, though Jack and Marilyn’s primary charity benefits multiple myeloma research.
Initially, they dreamed up the party just for fun. “Adults can play Halloween and get dressed up,” Marilyn says . “We don’t ever want to know what anyone plans to wear, not the family staying in our house. But our friends—it’s the topic of conversation for weeks: ‘This is what I’m going to do,’ ‘This is how I’m putting my costume together.’ And it’s a different kind of party. No one is talking about, ‘Oh, how long did it take you to drive out, what did you do this week—’”
“What the weather is like,” Jack interjects.
“‘—can you imagine the traffic on 27?’” finishes Marilyn, laughing. “No, everyone talks about the costumes and how they came up with the idea. Like the party, Dan’s Papers is just another summer tradition for us,” she says, waving her hand at the back wall of the garage, which is filled with framed covers.