Carly Haffner: In The Woods

“Pink Sky at Night,” 2018. Independent/Carly Haffner

Enter the woods without being outside through Carly Haffner’s exhibit In The Woods, now on view at Guild Hall in East Hampton through February 23. Explore a selection of landscape paintings in Haffner’s signature folk-art style inside the Education Corridor. The woods showcase another side to the Hamptons: residential landscapes. Haffner’s focus takes the viewer away from the popularized sandy beaches and into the homely areas of local communities. The 36-year Springs resident and one of the founders of the Bonac Tonic art collective, formed in 2005, said it’s this setting she relates to most.

What is it about the woods that captivates you?

I’m lucky to live next to an old forest. The woods are magical. I see the trees change in different light and seasons. Trees are beautiful and fun to paint. Their branches go in all directions — you can use different brushes to paint them — it feels free.

Describe the ways your personality comes through in your work.

My paintings are quirky and I’m quirky, too. I paint landscapes I find beautiful — sunsets behind trees, snow scenes; but also junk and vintage campers in my yard. I’m painting my surroundings so the paintings are autobiographical.

Why have you chosen to stay on the East End when the rest of your family uprooted?

I stay on the East End for the sunsets, beaches, and seasons. Also, there is a great art community here and I like my job at the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton. I will stay as long as I can.  Many of my friends were forced to move because they lost a living situation. There needs to be more affordable housing in the Hamptons.

Tell me about Bonac Tonic art collective.

I formed the Bonac Tonic art collective in 2005 with my twin brother Grant Haffner and a few friends to give exhibitions and exposure to local emerging artists. The collective had a constantly-changing roster of artists as well as our core members, and we had wild fun art exhibitions mainly at Ashawagh Hall in our hometown Springs. The next Bonac Tonic show will be in summer 2020 at the Hampton Photo Arts store in Southampton.

You’ll be working with the Education Department and Teen Arts Council. In what ways do you engage the younger community?

Last year I was in an exhibition called Luminous Illusions (with Michael Butler and Gabriele Raacke). The show was curated by the Ross School seventh-grade students who visited our art studios and selected the paintings. This year, I’m working with the Guild Hall Teen Arts Council to build a set for the theater stage during the Student Art Festival opening reception on January 25 from 2 to 4 PM. I’m also hosting an evening of painting for adults and young adults — Painting Trees with Carly Haffner — on February 20 from 6 to 9 PM. This workshop costs $15 ($10 for members). Growing up in Springs I had many friends’ parents who were artists and role models to me. Now is my chance to give back. I want to encourage young artists with their creative pursuits. Art is important. We need art in our world.

There is free admission into the exhibition. See museum hours at

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