If this week’s cover art looks kind of like a photograph, you’re not 100% incorrect. This week’s cover artist, Curt Hoppe, is a realist painter who often works directly from photographs he’s taken. Born in Minnesota, Hoppe moved to New York in 1968, eventually taking up residence in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where he immersed himself in the burgeoning arts culture.
His work has captured everything from the punk music scene and roller derby queens to the Hamptons, all in stunning detail. This week’s cover is one of many Hamptons scenes Hoppe, who admits he doesn’t make it out to the East End as much as he’d like to nowadays, has captured over the years. His other Hamptons work includes paintings of the old bowling alley in East Hampton, Sip’n Soda in Southampton and two paintings of the Sag Harbor Cinema. We reached out to Hoppe recently to check in and see what he is up to.
What projects are you currently working on?
For the last five years or so, I’ve been working on a series of about 20 portraits of some of my friends from the last 40 years in New York. I’m just finishing that up and am really looking forward to getting that out.
Who are some of the people you’ve painted in this series?
James Chance from James Chance and the Contortions. Patti Astor. John Holmstrom who started Punk magazine. Richard Hamilton, Robin Winters. Arturo Vega, the artistic director for the Ramones who invented their iconic logo. Those are some of them.
You were involved in the 2004 effort to save the original neon Sag Harbor sign, right?
I was. Brenda Siemer helped organize that. I had a series of prints at the Wallace Gallery. I helped raise around $20,000 with those pieces.
Do you have any opinion on what should happen with the space the theater occupied?
I’d like to see a theater go back. But the times are changing and I don’t know what the developers would want to do. I could go off on a whole gentrification rant, but whatever they do, I hope they keep the feel of Sag Harbor. I hope it’s something befitting the town, something that keeps the character. It’s a beautiful village.
Is there one piece of advice or wisdom you’ve received from another artist that you’ve always remembered?
Not that I received directly, but Bob Dylan’s line from “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”: “Strike another match go start anew.” It’s very apropos right now, in regards to the cinema, too. You have to move on and do different things.
With rising rents and the overall gentrification going on there, do you think New York City is still the place to be for an aspiring artist?
Yes. It’s more expensive, yes, and a little bit tougher to make it. But New York is still the art capital of the world. There’s also a lot of other artists, opportunities and, of course, galleries.
Is there somewhere your work is on display right now?
I have some work up at the Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk show. It just finished up at the Queens Museum in New York but is going on at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles until February 28. And there’s more work to see at curthoppe.com.