With another year behind us and 2016 about to begin, we look back at 10 important and/or exciting moments in the Hamptons visual arts scene. The list below is presented in no particular order and we acknowledge there have been many other incredible standouts throughout this past year.
10. Jules Feiffer Shows Kill My Mother
At 86 years young, Jules Feiffer created his noteworthy noir graphic novel, Kill My Mother in 2014. In March of 2015, however, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist mounted an exhibition of his work from that fabulous book at the Parrish Art Museum. Featuring more than 140 of Feiffer’s large-scale ink and watercolor drawings from Kill My Mother, the show stepped outside museum norms with wall notes illustrated by the artist. “I’m having as much or more fun [now] as any point in my career,” Feiffer said at the time. While it was the first release, Kill My Mother is part two in a three-part series. Feiffer is currently 60 pages into creating Cousin Joseph, a prequel. The sequel to Kill My Mother will follow.
9. Tripoli Gallery Opens East Hampton Location
East End gallerist Tripoli Patterson debuted his new East Hampton location in April with Félix Bonilla Gerena: For Lisa, the first exhibition in a series aiming to expand upon and refine the vision that has made Tripoli Gallery such a success in Southampton. The gallery is in cooperation with rare bookseller Glenn Horowitz, who approached him with the idea of showing contemporary art on the ground floor of the bookseller’s 87 Newtown Lane space while he sells books upstairs. In November, the new space allowed Patterson to expand his popular Thanksgiving Collective, which is also currently on view at Tripoli Gallery Southampton (30A Jobs Lane) and the Southampton Arts Center.
8. Plein Air Peconic Celebrates 10 Years
The artists of East End landscape painting and photography group Plein Air Peconic celebrated the organization’s 10th anniversary with an art exhibition and sale, Plein Air Peconic X, at Ashawagh Hall in Springs over Columbus Day weekend in October. Participating artists include landscape painters Casey Chalem Anderson, Susan D’Alessio, Terry Elkins, Michelle Margit, Gordon Matheson, Joanne Rosko and Eileen Dawn Skretch, and photographers Tom Steele, Kathryn Szoka and Ellen Watson. With the belief that art has the power to connect people to the environment, and in partnership with the Peconic Land Trust over the past decade, Plein Air Peconic has made it their mission to create artwork focused on importance of land conservation on the East End, and to raise money for that cause.
7. Parrish Offers Free Admission to Military Families
Just in time for Memorial Day, 2015, the Parrish Art Museum began providing free admission to the country’s active duty military personnel for the summer. The move was part of the national Blue Star Museums program—a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 2,000 museums across America, which allows members of the U.S. military (including National Guard and Reserve) and their families an opportunity to enjoy these cultural institutions without hurting their bottom line. The program started on May 21 and continued through Labor Day in September.
6. Grant Haffner Ascends and Creates Story Mode Game
North Haven painter and multiple Dan’s Papers cover artist Grant Haffner’s career exploded in 2015 (more on that soon). Now known worldwide for his colorful and propulsive paintings of East End roads and utility poles, Haffner’s paintings are hugely in demand. There’s so much happening—including a show in Japan in March, a hotel deal and a long line of commissions he’s working furiously to complete—but, as passionate artists often do, he still made time to create some unique art for art’s sake. In November, Haffner shared his Story Mode game—an online “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style interactive story book with lots of terrible, zombie-infested endings, and a few happy ones too.
5. Vered Says “Legs” Fight Will Rage on in Sag Harbor
Following a seven-year legal battle, a NY State Supreme Court judge ruled in November that Larry Rivers’ now infamous “Legs” sculpture must be removed from its place outside the Madison Street home of gallerists Ruth Vered and Janet Lehr in Sag Harbor. But this war is likely far from over. “I’ll do everything I can to keep fighting,” Vered told DansPapers.com after she learned of the ruling. “This is against freedom of speech and freedom of expression…this is against everything this country stands for.” Vered said she and Lehr spoke with their attorney and would figure out what to do next. “Nobody should be able to take this right from us—I’m pissed as hell,” she added. “I’m not ready to hang up my coat.” We’re in her corner on this one.
4. Art Southampton Moves to Nova’s Ark
International and contemporary modern art fair, Art Southampton, moved from the impossibly un-park-able Southampton Elks Lodge grounds on County Road 39 on the last weekend of July, to Nova’s Ark sculpture fields in Bridgehampton on the weekend after Fourth of July. The move was a smart one, though the fair needs to iron out a few things in 2016—like traffic flow and providing free WiFi to ALL visitors, please. But at least everyone could park on the grounds this time and the fair was an enjoyable one, as it is every year, despite parking and WiFi issues.
3. Scott Bluedorn Designs Greenport Harbor Brewing Labels
Greenport Harbor Brewing launched their new line of bottled beers in April, and with them came unique labels by East Hampton artist and Dan’s Papers cover alum Scott Bluedorn. The release included four varieties of beer—Harbor Ale, Black Duck Porter, Other Side IPA and their seasonal release, Summer Ale—each bold label featuring a drawing by Bluedorn. More labels have followed, and will continue with future releases. And they’re like nothing beer fans have seen before. Kudos to Greenport Harbor Brewing for their vision, and to Bluedorn for his flawless and creative execution.
2. Dan’s Papers Finishes Another Year of Gorgeous Covers
Starting with Lawrence Roberts‘ graphically clean and striking January 9 cover and ending with Joe Chierchio‘s celebration of the coming New Year—Dan’s Papers has had another 51 weeks of fun, beautiful and even visually compelling covers. We’ve seen old favorites return as well as some newcomers—all of them giving each issue it’s own unique and memorable identity. And soon they’ll all be available for fans to frame and hang! If you think you’ve got what it takes to have your work grace our cover, send images (no photography) to our Production Manager, Gen Horsburgh: email@example.com.
1. Shelter Island’s Matt Rohde Counts Down to The Force Awakens
The new Star Wars sequel, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, became a worldwide phenomenon in 2015, and will surely be among the year’s most defining attributes decades from now. On the East End, no one captured the fun and excitement leading up to the film like Shelter Island South Ferry captain and toy photographer Matt Rohde, who counted down to the release with a unique image each day as X_Captain_Kaos_X on Instagram. For his efforts, Rohde has earned more than 19,000 followers on the popular photo app, and his work continues to evolve. It may not be what we’re used to seeing, but what he’s doing is definitely fine art. And it’s amazingly good. If you haven’t done so already, add yourself to that list of 19,000 followers today. We can’t wait to see what Rohde creates in 2016!