Honoring The Artist: Cover Artist, Ted Asnis

This week’s cover artist, Ted Asnis, holds a special place in this community. You might call him the artist-in-residence at the venerable Bobby Van’s, because his paintings are the only ones displayed there. Just as Bobby Van’s is a venue that celebrates comfort and tradition, so, too, do Asnis’ landscapes signify all that is memorable about the Hamptons. Consider his boats and barns; nestled in their indigenous settings, flowers that hover by a doorway and beach fences at home in the sand.
What’s particularly interesting is the fact that the structures (like the barns and sailboats) seem a perfect match for their surroundings. And well they should, considering that Asnis was an architectural designer and space planner. Other intriguing aspects of his work are the short strokes, indicating beach grass or waves crashing: such images create movement and vitality.
But what’s most special is Asnis’ use of space, especially when a sailboat is tilted on its side, the object filling the entire canvas. Many of his other images also take up the entire picture plane, giving us an intense and personal perspective.

Q: Where is the location of the sailboats on the cover?

A: At Louse Point, near Gerard Drive in The Springs. I often go there to photograph the area, but I did this cover image several years ago.

Q: Are you from this area? You seem so comfortable here.
A: We lived in New York and have had our house in North Haven since 1983. In 1989, I retired and started painting full-time. It’s the reason I get up in the morning.

Q: Before retiring, your field was architecture, right?
A: I did architectural illustrations, then did space design. I had my own space design firm, with some Wall Street clients.

Q: How did you get into that field?
A: I studied architecture at the University of Florida, but then it was impossible to be an architect in New York. So I got a post-graduate degree in space planning at the New York School of Interior Design. My clients were companies like Simon & Schuster and The Gulf and Western Building.

Q: The Gulf and Western Building was a real landmark. It’s an apartment building now. Things were different in the industry when you started out.
A: Yes, now everyone uses auto computer-aided design.

Q: Of all your experiences in design, what was really memorable?
A: When I was in the army, I went to Japan. It was a thrill to be there. I was in the engineering group, the closest thing related to art. Had I known what I would end up doing, I would have majored in art and art history. I fell into painting; I am really self-taught.

Q: I imagine you like to travel. Where have you been?
A: We just came back from Italy; it was 94 degrees in Venice. We also went to Lido, a lazy beach town. It has the flavor of the Hamptons. I enjoyed meeting the local people, like the men we met in a restaurant there. I ended up singing songs with them. One man was an architect who had retired, just like me.

Q: But you really like Sag Harbor and the architecture there?
A: I love being in Sag Harbor and the architecture, places like John Street where E.L. Doctorow lives.

Q: How about your relationship with Bobby Van’s?
A: I’ve had my work there for the last five years. I love it. It’s like my own gallery.

Ted Asnis’ work can be seen at Bobby Van’s Restaurant in Bridgehampton (2393 Montauk Highway. Tel: 631-537-0590).
His work can also be seen on his website: tedasnis.com

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