The colorful artwork presented in the silver frame on this week’s cover comes to us from Hulbert Waldroup, courtesy of Denis Leon Gallery in Southampton. Waldroup discusses his art, love and the Art Warehouse of Southampton he founded.
Hulbert Waldroup, Art Warehouse of Southampton, Pride & Love, American Style
Tell me about the name and inspiration for this piece.
I hadn’t thought about a name, but I think we should give it the name: “Love, American Style.” … When I am texting someone, I never spell L-O-V-E, I always spell it L-heart-V-E. It’s like killing two birds with one stone. I think it’s just a little stronger way of spelling out the word “love,” and I think it differentiates a little bit of Robert Indiana’s famous sculpture of love and “I Love New York” … there’s a little influence there. But I like L-heart-V-E, and I really like how the people are in the center of the heart, instead of just leaving the heart empty but leaving a positive space inside of it. I like to look at this piece, and these type of pieces, with my eyes just a little out of focus, and you can see more clearly.
How did your “Love” series begin, and how does this particular piece explore the theme of Love?
In this day and age we’re living in, I think there’s a thirst or an appetite to wake up in the morning and look at paintings … to be reminded of love to start your day. …
I moved to Southampton during the virus where I was supplying art to galleries in the city. I have a street background, graffiti background, and so now in the Hamptons, I do street art and graffiti, but I combined it with cubism. People have moved to the Hamptons from the city where they’re used to seeing street art, even graffiti in a restroom, and my idea is to take that and make it presentable in a $20 million-take it off the subway platform and bring it inside the $20 million home. …
I’m doing multiple styles of painting, using Tiffany blues, I’m using hot pinks, I’m putting beautiful frames on them. … My goal as an artist is to make art that kisses you on the face. You open the door to enter, and my art kisses you on the face with a gentle kiss. It’s not something you ignore, and it’s not an insult, just a gentle kiss on the face … but still, it’s reminiscent of fun days in New York City looking at the writings on the subway walls.
How did your relationship with Denis Leon Gallery begin, and what does it mean to be represented there?
He allowed me to show my artwork at his gallery in Boca Raton. … He’s an artist and gallery owner, so we work well together, and we have a similar view on art. … It’s like blues and rock and roll, it’s almost better to come from struggle. I know typically they say East Hampton is young, new money and Southampton is old money, but I think Southampton is becoming more diverse.
The Southampton Inn gave me a beautiful studio and wanted something a little more colorful; they encourage diversity. The art studio is right on the corner of 71 Hill Street — beautiful paintings — last year was a really great year. The town itself is becoming a little more colorful, a little more diverse, a little more open and receptive. By people moving from New York City out here, the appetite for art has evolved along with the population of people.
What are your plans and goals for the Art Warehouse of Southampton?
My goal is to become the destination for art in all of the Hamptons, because you’re dealing straight with artists rather than an art dealer. I’m undercutting all the competition with better art and lower prices. I tell people that most everything is under $10,000, and you can save that other $10,000 or $20,000 and put it in Bitcoin or Apple stock.
There are other artist who are going to be showing this summer also, and every weekend when you come to the Art Warehouse, I want to overwhelm your senses with sculptures, paintings, beautiful people, interesting conversations. … 71 Hill Street is huge. It’s not a small storefront gallery. It’s the Art Warehouse because it’s huge. There are two floors, there’s a patio where we’re going to have sculptures, and a lot of wine and champagne on weekends. There’s always going to be something interesting.
Would you like to share any thoughts on Pride Month or the relationship between love and pride?
When I walk through Main Street now, it’s good to see diversity in ethnicity in Southampton, but it’s also good to see diversity in sexuality. It’s good. The town is changing, it’s evolving. Change is always good, and I embrace it.
As far as it goes with me or my art, with that diversity, these people are very interesting with diversity in ethnicity and sexuality, and there’s also diversity in conversation that makes it very interesting. I reflect that in my art. …
I was told as young boy that an artist should always paint what they love. If you love animals, paint animals. If you love the ocean, paint the ocean. I love people, I love to people-watch, I love to watch people in love. Maybe I’m a voyeur, or maybe my gift is to enrich the lives of others, but with that gift it’s also a curse because while you’re enriching the lives of others, your personal life goes to s—, so caught up in another dimension.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
If you recently purchased or are thinking of purchasing a home, or are decorating a home in the Hamptons, please contact Denis (Leon). If you’re having a stroll, come by 71 Hill Street (Southampton) near Coopers Beach, and I’ll have good art and great conversation — and a smile, a warm smile.