Artists & Galleries

Dan’s Papers Cover Artist Carl Bretzke Honors Sag Harbor Cinema

"The Last Show" is a love letter to the historic movie theater.

My work is a snapshot of what I currently know. It may change over the years,” says painter Carl Bretzke says. “For me this is a lifelong study and a wonderful journey. I paint almost every day. Typically I paint in outdoor plein air competitions around the country roughly one week each month. I spend equal time in the studio, usually doing larger pieces.”

His cover image for our annual Sag Harborfest issue, “The Last Show,” is a love letter to the Sag Harbor Cinema, past and future.

Carl Bretzke
Carl Bretzke

What was the inspiration for this piece?
I love painting night scenes and I was happy to see this colorful and iconic view from in front of the Grenning Gallery, where I was then in a show. I painted a small version from life, which turned out to be popular enough that I was asked to do two more similar scenes in the studio including “The Last Show.” Within a month of completion the Cinema burned down. There are now commemorative prints available at the Grenning Gallery with proceeds helping to rebuild the theater.

Do you feel that the piece looks back, or does it also shine a light on Sag Harbor’s future?
Definitely both! The old theater was a piece of Sag Harbor Americana, which I memorialized, and at the same time the painting also celebrates the rebuilding currently underway.

What was your most memorable experience this summer?
It went so fast I hardly remember. I had a great week of painting in Door County, Wisconsin in July. Perfect weather and good friends.

Where in the world is you favorite spot?
I’m a native Minnesotan and reside in Minneapolis. I typically swim in one of our 10,000 lakes. Long Island is gorgeous, though! It’s hard to beat the ocean. Besides Sag Harbor, I have stayed in Amagansett and in East Hampton when I come to paint and enjoy them all. Montauk is one of my favorite painting destinations on Long Island. I like the working docks.

What is the significance of painting in contemporary society?
My life is enriched through painting and through looking at my favorite art. Others obviously feel the same. At the end of life, many people say that love is way more important than work. I think art falls somewhere in between, but closer to love.

“Contemporary” is partially defined as belonging to or occurring in the present, so what is contemporary art, really? My art is somewhat impressionistic realism and occurs in the present, so I will call it “contemporary realist impressionism.”

Where’s the strangest place your work has appeared?
Probably in several bathrooms, although I did have a painting on the cover of a medical journal a few years ago, which was unexpected.

If you could sit down to coffee with any artist from history, who would it be and what would you talk about?
I would like to talk to Isaac Levitan (Russian) about his technique and how he interprets and then paints what he sees. I guess I would have to include some small talk maybe about the coffee and “does he golf?”

Where can our readers see more of your work?
At the Grenning Gallery in Sag Harbor; Susan Calloway Fine Art in Washington, DC and on carlbretzke.com.

Read more Honoring the Artist interviews.

September 7, 2018 Dan's Papers cover art by Carl Bretzke
September 7, 2018 Dan’s Papers cover art by Carl Bretzke
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