James DeMartis is a longtime resident of the Hamptons, and a celebrated artisan who regularly wears many hats, from artist to blacksmith.
Growing up in a family that emphasized and valued art, DeMartis learned early on to appreciate working with his hands. His mother is an avid collector and his father was a fine art painter. Combined with the rigorous blacksmith training DeMartis received years ago, he has now developed a unique set of skills as a sculptor and designer. In 2001, he set up a studio in the artistic enclave of Springs in East Hampton, complete with a coal forge. Since opening his studio, he has been busy creating beautiful works of art and custom-designed furniture and sculptures for residences across the East End. Visiting his studio, I noticed that there’s creative inspiration sprinkled throughout. His father’s paintings hang prominently, as well as hand-forged pieces and collages of his own work. His experiences as an artist are varied from exhibiting in art galleries, to a stint working on the production of the film Noah. He built the big, metal stove shown in that epic. As his popularity has grown, career opportunities have taken him more frequently to work on projects in Manhattan.
With a long history of working and training as a blacksmith, he uses a coal forge in his studio in order to create metal work from copper, zinc, stainless steel, brass, bronze and aluminum. DeMartis values the simplicity and precision of working with hand tools, and creates products from commissioned art pieces to stair rails, gates, table bases and other furniture. Working with four specific tools (anvil, hammer, fire and metal), he makes his pieces at the forge in order to create one-of-a-kind works of art. He even uses a specific type of West Virginian coal that he handpicks, because he feels it heats and burns to the perfect temperature. In addition to his commissioned art pieces, DeMartis continues his work in the blacksmith trade for the Wheelwright Shop in Bridgehampton and the Parson’s Forge in Springs.
Be on the lookout for more exciting collaborations between DeMartis and the design world in the near future. It’s clear that the industry has become smitten with the artist. He is currently collaborating on projects with a variety of interior designers, architects and cultural institutions who value his unique commissioned art pieces, sculptures and beautiful wares for the home and garden. He recently consulted on the Penthouse of the Greenwich Hotel, which was designed by Axel Voorvordt, as well as several private residences. This month, one of his sculptures will be on display at Guild Hall’s Artist Members Exhibition in East Hampton. He also created three pieces for Dodds & Eder kitchen and bathroom showroom in Sag Harbor, which are now on display. Additionally, he is working on a fourth piece to be included in an outdoor exhibition this August. He designs a custom line of furniture with Comerford Collection, as well as a collection of table and desk bases, made from hand-hammered bronze shades for Lindsey Adelman in New York. He recently created a 12-foot-by-16-foot stainless steel willow tree art sculpture for artist Josh Hadar.
DeMartis is also socially conscious, and regularly donates pieces to philanthropic projects for the East End Hospice, The Breast Health Coalition, International Surgical Mission and more. This past Easter weekend, he designed a 2.5-foot tall egg sculpture for the New York City Big Egg Hunt, which supports Studio In a School and Elephant Family. DeMartis was one of 260 artists in the citywide, five-borough hunt, display and auction.
Local artist/designer/blacksmith, DeMartis is at an exciting time in his career. It will be intersting to see where his works wind up next.
You can read more about DeMartis and his projects on his website jamesdesmartis.com.