The East End Arts Scene: A 2021 Year in Review

The arts flourished on the East End in 2021
The arts flourished on the East End in 2021

After the year 2020, just about any subsequent year could be graded better overall, but 2021 certainly had some genuine highlights in the East End arts scene. Let’s take a look back at some of the exciting arts news covered in Dan’s Papers this year.

Hans Van de Bovenkamp's "Lady Grace" on the WHB Great Lawn
Hans Van de Bovenkamp’s “Lady Grace” on the WHB Great LawnJim Lennon

1. Dan’s Papers SculptTour Launches

Launching in spring 2021, the Dan’s Papers SculptTour dazzled Hamptons summer visitors and locals with a collection of sculptures by the great Hans Van de Bovenkamp. Several of the statues stood tall in Westhampton Beach, with others scattered across Montauk Highway. We had the pleasure of interviewing Van de Bovenkamp about his origin in Holland, his illustrious career and the works included in the tour, presented in partnership with the Louis K. Meisel Gallery. We even held a selfie contest and awarded a fabulous prize to the person who took the best photo alongside one of the statues. If you know where to look, you may still see these shining works across the Hamptons.

July 16, 2021 Dan's Papers cover art by Howard Stern
July 16, 2021 Dan’s Papers cover art by Howard Stern

2. Howard Stern Promotes His Dan’s Papers Cover

Soon after his first Dan’s Papers cover art in December 2020, radio legend Howard Stern took to The Howard Stern Show to tell his listeners about the exiting development. On a January show, he discussed his desire to be in the December 18, 2020 issue specifically after his wife, Beth Ostrosky Stern, had been interviewed about her animal advocacy for the issue. On July 21, he returned to the cover with another work of impressive realism.

The newly reopened Sag Harbor Cinema
The newly reopened Sag Harbor CinemaMichael Heller

3. The Final Venue Reopenings

With Bay Street Theater, Guild Hall and the other major East End venues reopening their doors within a few months of the March 2020 shutdown, North Fork music and comedy fans were eagerly awaiting Suffolk Theater’s reopening date soon after. This date, however, wouldn’t come until August 27, 2021 when they welcomed fans of the Lords of 52nd Street to come rock out under a bevy of new safety precautions. Sag Harbor Cinema, too, saw its long-awaited return this year, though the wait was much longer — December 16, 2016 to April 9, 2021. With the intense fundraising and elaborate redesign involved, the cinema’s reopening was already years in the making when COVID hit and slowed the process down considerably. At the close of 2021, all major East End venues have survived the pandemic and patrons couldn’t be happier.

Guild Hall in East Hampton
Guild Hall in East HamptonBarbara Lassen

4. Guild Hall Turns 90

Speaking of Guild Hall, the iconic East Hampton institution celebrated 90 years of performing arts, fine art and more in a big way. Summer patrons were treated to a virtual poetry reading, outdoor plays and film screenings, the 75th annual Clothesline Art Sale, family workshops, KidFEST, conversations with Black and Indigenous change-makers, a culinary series, Selections from the Permanent Collection and more.

The 2021 Hamptons Film Festival poster featuring "Finding Beauty in a Dark Place" by Toni Ross
The 2021 Hamptons Film Festival poster featuring “Finding Beauty in a Dark Place” by Toni Ross

5. Film Festivals Came Back Strong

Many annual event organizers did what they could to engage event-goers with virtual-only offerings in 2020, but it was clear that film festivals benefitted greatly from a more personal touch. The Hamptons International Film Festival, Hamptons Doc Fest, OLA Latino Film Festival and North Fork TV Festival each held 2021 events that were a much-anticipated return to form, featuring in-person screenings, Q&As with filmmakers, parties and other festivities. And, as illustrated above, Toni Ross’ 2021 HIFF poster art, Finding Beauty in a Dark Place,” was an achievement in and of itself.

2021 East Hampton Artists and Writers Charity Softball Game players
2021 East Hampton Artists and Writers Charity Softball Game players

6. Dan’s Papers Sponsors Artists & Writers Game

For the first time, Dan’s Papers sponsored the East Hampton Artists & Writers Charity Softball Game, and we went all out. Every week leading up to the August game, we ran the new Up at Bat series, which gave prolific local authors from Ken Auletta to Alec Baldwin a page to write about whatever they wanted. The sponsorship of the 73rd annual game concluded with a massive game day program featuring great interviews, history pieces and more — and a victory for the Artists team.

Daisy Tapley and Spalding Gray as depicted by Eric Fischl
Daisy Tapley and Spalding Gray as depicted by Eric FischlCourtesy Eric Fischl

7. Saints of Sag Harbor

The Church, a former literal church turned cultural hub, opened with a piece of art in each of its 20 windows, depicting the “arts saints of Sag Harbor” as The Church co-founder and the windows’ artist Eric Fischl calls them. In honor of the 20 saints — Daisy Tapley, Spalding Gray, James Fenimore Cooper, George Balanchine, Herman Melville and others —we printed a 10-part series detailing each saint’s contribution to the arts scene of Sag Harbor.

Daniel Bluman wins the Hampton Classic Grand Prix 2021
Daniel Bluman wins the Hampton Classic Grand Prix

8. Hampton Classic Jumps Back In

The Hampton Classic Horse Show returned after a year away, and we covered it from every angle this year. We printed the schedule, previewed the new safety precautions, profiled a young jumper, checked out the boutique shops and photographed the fabulous attendees. The weeklong event was a massive success, drawing in thousands of attendees and awarding the $300,000 LONGINES Hampton Classic Grand Prix prize to Israeli jumper Daniel Bluman.

Tovah Feldshuh and Dr. Ruth Westheimer
Tovah Feldshuh and Dr. Ruth WestheimerCourtesy Bay Street Theater

9. The Year of Tovah Feldshuh

The year 2021 can be accurately described as the year of Tovah Feldshuh. The Broadway and TV star released her debut memoir Lilyville: Mother, Daughter and Other Roles I’ve Played, she starred in Bay Street Theater’s Becoming Dr. Ruth that subsequently moved to the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and was honored by the Ellen Hermanson Foundation for her generous support of their lifesaving work in breast health. We covered Feldshuh’s incredible year via multiple features, podcasts and photo ops, and look forward to more from her in 2022.

Wendell Castle's functional designs on display at Christie's / Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Wendell Castle’s functional designs on display at Christie’s / Carpenters Workshop Gallery

10. 2021 Art Wave in Southampton

Following the 2020 Southampton Village law that vacant storefronts must be filled with art installations, the village has seen a major wave in new art galleries and other artsy happenings throughout its streets. Phillips art auction house, Denis Leon Gallery, Peter Marino Art Foundation, A Is for Art, Lex Weill Gallery, Black & White Gallery / Project Space, Hauser & Wirth, Loves Gallery and Christie’s / Carpenters Workshop Gallery all popped up in the months leading to and through 2021. Southampton Arts Center even hosted the inaugural Hamptons Fine Art Fair and the Artisan Fair, which complemented the weekly Farmers and Artisans Market well.

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