It’s a historic event, modernized for touch-less shopping and a great way to purchase art, support Guild Hall and our local artists.
It’s the 75th annual Clothesline Art Sale—where eager art lovers line up at 9 a.m. outside Guild Hall for the chance to browse and buy works of art, hung on beach dunes fencing on the front lawn.
Over the years, the Clothesline sale (which started in 1946) has included some of the area’s most famous artists. Abstract expressionists such as Willem de Kooning, Elaine de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Alfonso Ossorio all participated back in the 1950s.
This year, Clothesline features 240 artists and 675 works of art ranging in price “from $100 all the way up to $4–5,000, with the main prices anywhere from $500–$1,200,” says Casey Dalene, Guild Hall’s Lewis B. Cullman Associate Curator for Learning and Public Engagement.
“We push the artists to price their artwork really well so that the art is acceptable to the community that shows up to shop it,” says Dalene. “We always get a lot of the local community. … It’s a very neat sort of tradition within the community … not just the seasonal community—but the year-round community as well, and a way for them to get real paintings, real art for their walls, at an affordable price.”
The sale was modified last year due to COVID and those changes remain for this year. Normally the show is inside the gallery and out front of the building; this year it will again be only outside (while maintaining the main gallery exhibition, Alexis Rockman’s Shipwrecked, “so people can come for the sale and check out the current exhibition as well”). Guild Hall has increased the front lawn and “doubled the space” they use to display the art on the fencing along the grass.
Where in the past a purchaser would pick up a piece of art off the fence or wall inside and take it to the cashier and wait in line to pay for it and receive a handwritten receipt, now there is an online sales platform for Clothesline shoppers:
“You see a painting, you like it, you see the price on the painting but you can also see it on the website—there’s a QR code that you can scan and you go right to the painting on our website and go right to your shopping cart and check out, right there and take the painting with you,” says Dalene. (If you shop the website from home, once you have made the purchase, you then make an appointment through the website to pick up the piece at Guild Hall the week after Clothesline.)
The Clothesline sale opens at 9 a.m. in-person and online, but you can shop from home all day until midnight. Each artist submits up to three pieces of work (for a $15 fee) and Guild Hall does a 50/50 split with the sale of a painting: 50% goes to the artist and 50% goes to Guild Hall.
If last year is any indication, the 75th year celebration will be well attended.
“(Last year) it was a huge success, we overshot our budget … the community really came out for Guild Hall and the artists and just shopped—so we are hoping for the same this year … And obviously people are more out and about and more comfortable about being out and about,” says Dalene.
At its heart, the Clothesline sale is a benefit for Guild Hall. And it supports the artists of the area.
“For the artists to also get exposure and sell their work—we love when we can help artists. It’s another opportunity to do that, it’s part of our program,” says Dalene.
And for the art lovers and shoppers?
“It’s a one-day thing … that feeling of discovery … to experience that lucky, clandestine moment.”
The 75th annual Guild Hall Clothesline Art Sale is Saturday, July 24, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. at Guild Hall and online from 9 a.m. until midnight. Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street, East Hampton. Visit and shop at shopart.guildhall.org. For more information, visit guildhall.org.