Monday, July 23, 2012

The Hamptons

I went to the Hamptons for work, it was the longest that I have been there, 5 days, 4 nights, and it was fun, odd, revealing and surprisingly full of art.  More then anything, it sheds light on what it means to be wealthy, and it makes one think about how class and money are so tightly entwined with this art business.  Albeit, this version is the living cliché, it is the version that we all want to exist because it makes the contrast of things seem starker.  In reality, this is just the mirage, the real money and the real influence; those things are tucked far out of sight.  But nevertheless the performance of it all was quite fantastic to behold and it makes one realize that New York City is the best place ever to live.  Below are a few things I saw, noticed, or just have to remark upon that was stirred by this Hamptons trip.

Martos Gallery

As I said, there was actually some great art to be seen amongst the Buddha carvings and fountain displays.  One such experience was at Martos Gallery’s summer location in Bridgehampton, a large group exhibition curated by the indomitable Bob Nickas entitled Creatures of the Blue Lagoon.  The summer location appears to be the gallery owner’s home, and the work is hung, installed, placed and displayed amongst the unedited life that is lived there.  It is all very charming but it is surprisingly not gimmicky or overly clever.  There is some damn good art there and the eclectic mix of young hot things, outsiders, forgotten ones and the old guard is both refreshing and exciting to see.  The works were displayed and hung in a home that was cozy and had people wandering casually in and out and lounging about.  This is what art does when it is purchased, well 90% of the time.  It resides in the private space of someone’s every day; a home, an office, and it sits there until moved for some reason or another.  There is something direct in that acknowledgement but in this case there isn’t a reduction in that action but a heightened honesty.  It makes the art feel very present.  As if each piece was a stand-in for a friend, a guest that couldn’t make it in person but left their avatar in the form of a piece of work.  The artists and their fine selection of works can not be understated in the success of this.  For those that go out to any of the Hamptons, you must pop in, but make sure to mind the sleeping baby upstairs.

Halsey McKay

Located in East Hampton just off the main road, there is a surprise of a gallery called Halsey McKay that was opened in 2011 by Hilary Schaffner and Ryan Wallace.  Both Schaffner and Wallace are New York art insiders and their taste and knowledge of what is happening in the arts is on the pulse.  They had an opening of their current show with Andrew Kuo and Sarah Greenberg Rafferty doing a combined show entitled, Friends and upstairs they had the work of Ryan Travis Christiansen entitled, Something, Something, Black Something.  I could only stay for a bit, but both shows were a friendly surprise to see in all that white pant-ed secondary market ambiance of the Hamptons.  The exhibitions were well selected and there is nothing rag-tag about the space or the presentation.  It was also slightly familiar, for someone who sees art like the above on a weekly basis, but this show isn’t for me, it is for all those that live, summer, or weekend getaway that want, need, or desire to see new and good contemporary art.  I can only imagine the hurdle that must feel like out there but thank god someone is doing it. 


What people where in the Hamptons is just too funny!  Here are a few: Bright colors like pink, turquoise, purple, yellow; white pants; white shorts; white everything; flip flops; loafers; children in matching outfits; wearing only a sheer/skimpy cover-all over a bikini and walking where ever you damn well please; fitness clothes as outfits; tight pants that go way up woman’s butt cracks; big bangle bracelets; palm trees, alligators, etc on bright belts; dogs, dogs, dogs; small children; strollers with at least two children ages 2-6; straw hats; pastel pants; bad legs; spotted skin; collagen lips; plastic surgery face; soft baseball caps; polos.


Eee gads the food is bad out there.  It is super expensive, which is the norm for beach towns but really, $13 for a wrap sandwich?!  I only had one decent meal at a place called Silvers in South Hampton, someone had a BLT and it cost $19!  The rest was all bland, blah, blah food.  Food is so easy, it’s mind boggling it can be consistently so bad.  Most who live/summer there eat at home/at the homes of others which makes sense but really, the food was hideous in every way.


The Hamptons is about whiteness being as white as it wants to be.  It is really a beautiful setting out there and understandable why people want to be there.  The beaches are beautiful and the whole feeling of wealth, ease, suspension of time and the possibility for a breezy fabulousness permeates.  There are few non-whites en masse, mostly they are Hispanics who are biking at 12:30am to go mop floors, as I met, or they are black security guards, check out girls at the grocery store or cleaners.  This really isn’t about white and non-white per se, as there is clearly a population of working class white locals who have their own bars, their own restaurants and you see them working for various establishments on various days.  They too are not the “whiteness” that I am referring too.  Seeing a room full of pretty, skinny, tight dress wearing young girls on one side and a smaller number of older, post 50s, rich, blazer wearing, tanned men makes you go “gah” inside but this is also a part of the game, the goal to achieve ultimate whiteness.  In this whiteness money is a concept and reality is just much different then everyone else’s.  It is truly amazing to behold, all that whiteness.  It is like performance art, it is like those novels where a wealthy woman is dumb and numb by the delirious safety of boredom.  All that whiteness on such a small stretch of sand, it is entertaining, appealing and appalling all at once.