The East End has long stood as a bastion and hub for visual arts greatness. It’s something about the incredible light, our list of art legends past and present, and the stable of brilliant and ambitious emerging artists creating in a variety of media.
With 2019 coming to a close, it’s again time to look back over the last 12 months and choose the standout moments that defined our year and the trajectory of fine art in the Hamptons and North Fork.
Mickey Paraskevas’ Paint Your World
In September, Southampton Arts Center opened Paint Your World, a 40-year retrospective look at the paintings, illustrations and cartoons by prolific Southampton artist Mickey Paraskevas. Yes, he has a well-known and longstanding connection to Dan’s Papers, but there’s no denying that this was 2019’s ultimate can’t-miss show. Paraskevas gave visitors a truly wide ranging look at his mastery of many styles, as well as his numerous iconic characters, as seen in children’s books, animated TV shows and comic strips. The main gallery immediately grabbed our attention with its giant, inflatable Beast from Nickelodeon’s Maggie and the Ferocious Beast, and his brilliant and beautifully presented paintings, from Dan’s Papers covers to surreal scenes and dark visions from Lord of the Flies, kept us rapt from beginning to end. And the artist stayed involved with talks, visits and tours throughout.
David Slater at MM Gallery
Though he may be best identified as a Sag Harbor artist, mixed media painter David Slater’s relatively recent move to Springs seems to have brought out the greatest work in his already illustrious career. His show at Southampton’s MM Fine Art this November, including its transcendent centerpiece “Jackson and Lee in Paradise,” proved that, at 79, Slater just keeps getting better. In our glowing review, we described the work as “a kaleidoscopic stew mixing personal memoir, local history, myth and dreams, each imbued with layers of symbols and meaning.” Every collaged scrap, word, number and robustly rendered figure in his canvases represents a deeply considered choice. Nothing in his compositions is window dressing or placed by happenstance. There’s a reason why we suggested, “Slater might just be the East End art world’s most unrecognized genius.”
Tickhampton, Art by Patrick Lane
With all our art-world big shots and local darlings, area art fans can overlook the little guys who are often doing some of the most interesting work. In August, Montauk artist, skateboarder and filmmaker Patrick Lane mounted his Tickhampton pop-up at an appropriately alternative venue—Best Pizza & Dive Bar in Amagansett. Billed as a response to the state of Lane’s hometown, especially during the madness of summer, the short-lived show featured an array of truly unique mixed media assemblage, collage and even some traditional paintings. He’s boiled it down to a simple, tongue-in-cheek, manifesto: “The Tickhampton movement is a backlash to the exorbitance in the Hamptons that has crawled its way east into Montauk. Tickhampton celebrates the dichotomy between the sinister nature of ticks and one of the most decadent places in America. Everyone has a tick story.” As we said in August, it was all wonderfully punk rock and totally refreshing.
North Fork Art District Tour
Thanks to an inspired idea by Alex Ferrone of the Alex Ferrone Gallery and Mary Cantone of William Ris, the North Fork had a chance to show off its art world cred with the first-ever North Fork Art District Tour in August. This self-guided adventure sent participants to look at area galleries and an artist’s studio where guests enjoyed special exhibitions, creative demonstrations and artist meet-and-greets. Guests were encouraged to roam the North Fork in-between art destinations—which could be visited in any order—and explore all of the region’s cultural offerings, shops, farm stands and bucolic natural beauty, including picturesque farms and vineyards. The day concluded with an evening of local food and wine, a live art auction and complimentary special edition art gifts. A second tour ran in October. Let’s hope there’s more to come as the North Fork expands its reach as a premier art and culture destination.
Local Art Makes Waves in Congress
An old Hamptons art story gained new life in February when President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen testified before Congress about his old boss’s misdeeds. Imagine our surprise when talk turned to Trump’s 2013 purchase of East Hampton artist William Quigley’s portrait of the then-reality TV star for $60,000. According to Cohen, Trump used his Trump Foundation charitable organization to buy the painting through a “fake bidder” in order to make sure his picture would sell for the highest price of any portrait that day. The news, which hit outlets worldwide during Cohen’s testimony, referred to original reporting from a 2015 Dan’s Papers article about the transaction. As we explained at the time, “Quigley says he received word before the auction that Trump may want the painting, so he better raise the starting bid so as not to embarrass Trump.” Eventually, these things always end up coming to light.
Bonus: Liberty Dan Statue Unveiled
We couldn’t recount the year’s artistic achievements without mentioning Dan Rattiner’s second iconic statue, which can now be seen standing proudly at the Southampton Audi dealership. The piece, created by Behind the Fence Gallery, marked Dan’s 60th summer running this fine paper, and it made a perfect companion to our earlier Lobster Dan statue, which can still be found on Hills Station Road in Southampton!