Grandma (Anna Mary Robertson) Moses had a few years on Lucy Rubin, but Rubin can claim similarities to the artist, having gained recognition in her mature years as an inspired, self-taught folk painter. Rubin’s work shares what The New York Times celebrated in Moses: “simple realism, nostalgic atmosphere and luminous color.” These qualities are on joyful display in this week’s cover art, from a 24” x 18” acrylic Rubin calls “Main Beach, East Hampton.” Rubin is irrepressibly optimistic, “thrilled” and humbly thankful for so much attention, but she nonetheless points to details that the cropped cover version leaves out. These include a little nude lady (“I always have one of these”) near the pavilion, a small yellow plane gliding by and many more figures happily cavorting on the beach and in the ocean, including a young man who seems to be kite flying on a surfboard that’s aimed at an older man who’s waist deep in the water and reaching toward a woman. That man is based on her beloved husband, and head cheerleader, Gene. “I said, forget it, you’re not getting that blonde.” The point of view is interesting—we survey the scene as if from a boat way out in the water.
Though you’ve had no formal training, have you worked “creatively” most of your life?
I feel like I’ve won the Triple Crown without ever having taken Art 101, but over the years I always did arts and crafts, especially when my kids were in school. I’m a widow, and three years ago, after I moved to Boynton Beach in Florida, I assisted a wonderful man who was making costumes for a local community show. It was Gene [a widower]. We got married this past December, and now when we come north for the summer and are on our boat in Three Mile Harbor, I do art from there. I also look at art books in the library and get others from LVIS [East Hampton’s Ladies Village Improvement Society]. A lot of what I do is from pictures in books and from my imagination—birds, flowers, portraits. I’m now studying for a second year at The Art Barge with Linda Capello, and I’m so excited to be doing figures.
What would you say to others of a certain age about taking up art?
Do it! It’s never too late, especially if you live out here, where there’s so much beauty. For many years I also lived in Stony Brook, near nature. I sketch all the time. Waxy pencils and sketchbooks are always with me. I get carried away, but drawing, painting, bring me such joy. Just draw what you see, I’d say, and you’ll find your own style. I feel happy, lucky, blessed that I’ve found mine. Of course, who knows what direction I may take. I feel like a kid in a candy store, I have so much to learn. I really like the course I’m taking with Linda, and I’m happy that my children encourage me. Two are musicians and often work with Billy Joel. So there’s a family love of creativity in the family. It was my daughter who pointed out the folk art aspect of my work. Gene does all my framing.
How did “Main Beach, East Hampton” come about?
I started taking pictures of Main Beach a couple of years ago, blowing up certain features and studying them. I knew I wanted the building across the top, I just felt it. As for the point of view that would suggest I was in a boat in the water and looking toward the building, well, it was in my mind. Then I started adding people. I think of myself as a spiritual person, and I’m always open to inspiration.
Lucy Rubin’s “Atlantic Beach Hut,” recently on display at the Artists Alliance show at Ashawagh Hall, will be in the Guild Hall Clothesline Art Sale, August 1, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., along with four other pieces.