In a “normal” world, Memorial Day weekend typically kicks off a summer of fabulous art shows at Hamptons galleries. That isn’t happening this year, and while all kinds of wonderful virtual exhibitions are available online, there’s nothing quite like getting out and seeing the work in-person. With this in mind, we’ve planned a pandemic-safe, outdoor Hamptons art tour for area aesthetes and appreciators to enjoy heading west to east. Try seeing them all in one day or spreading it out over the long weekend. Or make your stops throughout the summer. None of these public pieces are going away.
Stargazer by Linda Scott
County Road 111, Manorville
A monumental work that rarely goes unnoticed, this 50-foot, red sculpture is an abstract representation of a buck’s head looking to the sky while chewing a branch (that’s right, it’s NOT a rooster). Since artist Linda Scott built “Stargazer” in 1990 it has become an unofficial welcome sign to the Hamptons as visitors drive from 495 to Route 27 for the final leg of their trip east. The sculpture has fallen in to disrepair and been refurbished numerous times since Scott’s death in 2015, but fans always seem to step up and keep her legacy alive.
Walking Figure by Donald Baechler
Collins Way, Westhampton
Standing tall at the center of a traffic circle by Francis Gabreski Airport, this 30-foot metal female figure looms large. Baechler originally sculpted the crude, diamond-shaped body in papier-mâché and cast it in bronze before enlarging the form in aluminum. “Walking Figure” has had its share of haters since the artist erected it in 2014, but it’s always better to see these things in person and judge for yourself.
25 Jobs Lane, Southampton
Back behind the Southampton Arts Center’s wrought iron fences and brick walls sits 18 busts of Rome’s great emperors. Each Caesar rests atop a column and faces another across the grass, creating a sort of head-topped colonnade that’s a pleasure to walk. Brought to Southampton by collector Samuel Longstreth Parrish in the late 19th century, the marble busts are copies of the Vatican’s originals in Rome. Look for all the big names from history, such as Julius Caesar, Caesar Augustus, Caligula, Nero, Hadrian and all the rest. Any fan of ancient Rome will love seeing these and picking out your favorite emperors. See if you can do it without checking the names.
Tokyo Brushstroke I & II by Roy Lichtenstein
Parrish Art Museum, 279 Montauk Highway, Water Mill
Installed in 2014, this massive pair of sculptures by late Southampton pop art icon Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) is impossible to miss. Designed as three-dimensional strokes of paint, as would appear in the artist’s Ben Day dot-adorned paintings, the works were fabricated in aluminum and painted. “Tokyo Brushstroke I” weighs more than 12,000 pounds in two pieces, while “Tokyo Brushstroke II” (closer to Montauk Highway) is 19 feet tall and weighs about 5,000 pounds. The sheer size of them is something to behold, and they couldn’t be easier to find.
Tribute to Jordan Haerter by AMP 26
Ferry Road, Sag Harbor
Hidden from view beneath the Jordan Haerter Veteran’s Memorial Bridge between Sag Harbor and North Haven, this approximately 50 x 15-foot mural is a colorful tribute to a fallen local hero, and the bridge’s namesake, U.S. Marine LCpl. Jordan Haerter. We don’t usually come out in support of what might be considered vandalism, no matter how well done, but this piece of illegal graffiti by the mysterious AMP 26 became sanctioned street art in 2009 after Village residents and officials pressured the NY State Department of Transportation not to remove it. Haerter was killed in 2008 while saving others during a suicide attack on a checkpoint he was guarding in Ramadi, Iraq. He was just 19 years old. The mural, featuring Captain America, an eagle and American flag motif is permitted to remain until it is defaced or deteriorates, which has yet to happen. Go see it while it’s still here.
Tipping Point XIX by Robert Mojeski
Montauk Highway (west of Town Line Road), Sagaponack
Erected in 2014 on Ken Schwenk’s farm field along Route 27, this 19-foot, metal kinetic sculpture features a huge yellow ball that spins precariously atop a wave-like, red-runged base. The eye-catching piece commands attention in its south of the highway location. For bonus points, check out Mojeski’s other kinetic sculpture, “Amateur Hour,” a giant marble luge that runs bowling balls, at the Green Thumb Market in Water Mill.
The East Hampton Sky Ride by Linda Stein
173 Daniels Hole Road, Wainscott
Created as a site-specific assemblage for the airport in 1998, this red metal sculpture mounted on granite wall uses a variety of real airplane parts, including a protruding nose cone and instrument panels arranged in an almost crude figure eight or infinity symbol. Look for it to the right of the main terminal—it’s not hard to find.
Drifted Coral by Ken Hiratsuka
Driftwood Cove, Montauk
Only visible during very low tide, this 2004 rock carving by artist Ken Hiratsuka has attracted a lot of attention over the last 15 years, even causing some to believe it’s some sort of ancient alien or Atlantean artifact. The piece, featuring one continuous, curving line that never crosses itself, is emblematic of Hiratsuka’s oeuvre, which can be seen in at least 19 countries around the world, including Japan, Mongolia, Brazil and Columbia, to name a few. And the beauty of it all is this will indeed one day become an ancient artifact looked upon with wonder by future civilizations.
Lost at Sea Memorial by Malcolm Frazier
2000 Montauk Highway, Montauk
Dedicated in 1999 to honor local commercial fishermen lost at sea, this 8-foot bronze sculpture of a fisherman pulling up a line sits heroically atop a 7-foot tall, 12-ton pink granite base. Standing tall next to the Montauk Lighthouse, the piece includes 120 names carved into its stone, paying tribute to those who perished—from James Szekely in 1998, all the way back to young sailors Jeremiah Conkling, Lewis Mulford, Henry Parsons and William Skellinx, who died together in 1719. Among others remembered are souls lost in The Pelican wreck of 1951, victims of the 1939 hurricane and many more who lost their lives.