This is the first part of a two part blog

The first ever ArtHamptons fair took place in Bridgehampton from July 11 to 13, 2008, bringing a slew of girlhood memories home to me.


It I grew up in New York City during the school year and in Southampton during summers, where except for my own drawing and then painting and visits to shows at the Parrish Art museum, there no art experience. Of course, I knew about the famous artists of the Hamptons, but I saw their work in the City, not in the Hamptons.


ArtHamptons began with a gala preview and a tribute presentation of the first Hampton’s Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts to Will Barnet.

Will Barnet

The Purple Robe

I suppose this began my reminiscing as Mr Barnet, as I call him, was one of my teachers at the Art Students League. He is the only art teacher after Mr. Betram Katz, who actually had any impact upon me and my work. I still have a canvas or two from his classes.Will Barnet certainly expanded my understanding of how to paint with oils and gave me more classical training. What I really appreciated was his love of art and willingness to allow his students to take risks and explore. He saw that I was struggling to find my own unique way of contributing through art and he had the grace to give the additional permission I needed to continue the struggle, even though it was obvious to both of us that I was far from any resolution.

Usually I take a walk through any entire fair I attend, not really stopping anywhere, just to get a feel for the booths and what is being shown, but as I entered the main building I was immediately drawn into the Hisrchl and Adler Modern booth that had a good display of Fairfield Porter’s work that I thoroughly enjoyed.


By the time I was studying art at the Art Student’s League Fairfield Porter, who lived and painted in Southampton was well known. Larry Rivers was in Southampton too, and my dream was to also work as an artist and live in Southampton – a dream I am now fulfilling.


I have known the original Hirschl and Adler Gallery on the Upper East Side of Manhattan since I was in seventh grade since the year when I began to attend Hunter College High School at 68th Sreet and Lexington Ave. My Dad escorted me for the first two days from our home in the 90’s on the West Side. Then I was judged competent to make the trip on my own and given a bus pass that was good for unlimited rides weekdays. Pure freedom.


I continued by quick walk through journey through ArtHamptons but before I got very far, I was in front of the booth of the Wally Findlay Galleries International, Inc. One of the two galleries that was important to me and my art training beginning with that original bus pass.


It took less than a week for me to discover that the bus pass allowed me to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My admission was free since I was a student. I could wander the Met freely until it was time to head home due to my 5:30 pm curfew.


This was before the avenues became one way, so on Fifth Avenue, Madison, Lexington and Third Avenues the buses ran both north and south. I began to experiment with different routes as the amazing bus pass worked on all buses. As I rode along Madison, heading to the Met, I noticed the art galleries. By the beginning of the second week I began my plan of visiting a few galleries on the way to the Met every day. I had little understanding about galleries, which I thought of as mini-museums. If I saw art in the window I went inside to check it out.


That is how I discovered the Wally Findlay Gallery. I remember it as if it just happened; only now I see the memory through the understandings of an adult. It was a warm fall afternoon. I had already been to two galleries new to me one was really just a frame shop and the other did not have work that interested me, but I would go back to check it out again.


I was a gawky, young for my just turned twelve years, wearing a ridiculous pair of light blue cat’s eyes eyeglasses with dumb little rhinestones that my mother insisted on, but I was tall if only I would stand up straight. However, as I entered the gallery I was hunched over partially in perpetual embarrassment over by newly enlarging breasts, plus I was loaded down with heavy text books, a large loose leaf binder, other supplies and a large purse.


A man with a stern but cultured air was speaking with a well dressed lady. He looked up as I walked in, and I looked at him the same way I would a tour guide. I no prior experience with galleries, which I figured to be some kind of mini museums if they were not frame shops. This gallery had Impressionist paintings, which I liked, including some by artists I recognized. The man began to speak about a painting to the lady, mush like a tour guide, so I came up behind them to listen.


The man turned around, glaring at me, but politely asked, “What do you want?”


“To hear what you’re saying about the art,” I said, still thinking he was a kid of tour guide like those who dealt with groups of students on school visits.


“Well, we’re having a private conversation.”


I apologized and shuffled over to the other side of the gallery, which was a basically one large front room, with private rooms in the rear. They continued to speak, moving into a private room and I continued to look at the art. I had worked my way halfway through the gallery when the woman departed.


The man spoke to me again, “Can I help you?” It was obvious he was not thrilled with my presence. However, I knew gruff guards at the Met who were not sure about me roaming around without someone to watch me that I did not touch or treat the art inappropriately. I was easily winning them over with my smile and very good and reverent behavior.


So I smiled and said, “No thank you, I’m fine. How are you?”


I a not sure if he answered, but I knew he was not pleased with my presence. However, having no idea that such a gallery was not a museum I continued to be polite and returned to my business of looking at the art.

The next time I entered the gallery, a couple of weeks later, I was glad that the man was busy with other people, who were always well dressed adults. It seemed strange to me that the art had changed and there were new paintings hung now as that did not happen in the Met’s basic rooms, and these were the days before Thomas Hoving began the blockbuster shows.

Jean Dufy

Jean Dufy

Venise vers la Place St. Marc, 1945

I continued to frequent the Wally Findlay Gallery on a bi-weekly basis. Sometime in November I came into the gallery on a cold and rainy day, when no one but the man was there, probably since the weather was so dreadful. By now, he knew that I was a respectful girl with a genuine interest in art. Even though I was unable to get any of my friends to join me on my rounds to the galleries and visits to the Met, it never dawned on me that my avid interest was unusual. Possibly, as I was too busy looking at the art or because it seemed so important to me.

This day the man came and stood beside me and kindly spoke to me asking me my opinion of the painting we were looking at. Of course, I liked it, but showed him another in the gallery I liked better, I think it was a Cezanne.

As I recall it now I understand that he was playfully teasing me, but his question and reply surprised me as much as mine did him. “Would you like to own it?” he asked.


When he told me the price I was startled, and relied,”You mean it’s for sale?! People can buy it?”


I never made it to the Met that day. Mr. Findley explained to me what a gallery was we began what was my first education about art that was not self taught. When he was no busy with people he would discuss the recent art he had acquired.


Until that day I had absolutely no one in my life, not even teachers to speak to about art and ask questions, although my Dad would go to the museums with me and enjoyed seeing art.


Wally Findley truly loved the paintings and was full of information about the artists. When no collectors were in the gallery, he would invite me into his office and give me cookies and he would show me the art in his office, which was often the best he had. Sometimes, if he was with collectors he would ask me to wait. Once they left he would proudly show me a new work and ask for my opinion. He never let me off the hook about my opinion as we would discuss a painting’s merits, its colors and perspective, the scene, etc. He knew I was regularly visiting the Met, too.


I especially recall waiting for people to leave and having him usher me into his office where he proudly introduced me to Jean Dufy. I have always been fascinated with brush strokes and Dufy’s strokes were a revelation to me, free like van Gogh’s but playful. It took me a while to warm up to the idea that Dufy did not fill his canvas with strokes. To a degree his influence can be seen in my own initial Essence portraits, but as I move into that series and others the freedom I learned from Wally Findlay via the Dufy’s will become more apparent.


Although Mr. Findlay knew I liked to draw, at that time my schools so far did not have art classes of any kind and the only classes I had outside of school were more about making crafts. He asked to see a drawing so I brought him one and he looked pleased. However, what Mr. Findlay was teaching me was how to look at art, and some of the history of Modern Art. He was my dear adopted art uncle.


It never dawned on me to tell anyone about this perfectly innocent relationship, which was really one of teacher and student so as a schoolgirl it seemed fitting to me. The relationship was casual, I dropped in when I dropped in, which became slightly less when I switched to the more distant High School of Music and Art. Even then, our teachers focused on museums, never discussing galleries, so again it never came up. During all of this time I had no idea that the Wally Findlay Gallery was an important gallery, or even that one gallery could be more significant than another in the art world.


I moved on in life, marrying and moving to Los Angeles, raising children and having careers other than as an artist, as I did not feel that I had anything new to add or say as an artist until a few years ago. That is when I began to recall the six school years from seventh through twelfth grade when I spent so much time during afternoons and weekends in the great museums and galleries of New York. I saw an advertisement in the New York Times for the Wally Findlay Galleries International, Inc., which is on 57th Street now, recognized the name and my relationship with Mr. Findlay came flooding back to me. A brief bit of Internet research showed that the gallery had indeed been located on Madison Avenue where I remembered it. Last winter I stopped in reminisced and enjoyed the art.


ArtHamptons brought to the Hamptons what had always seemed almost unimaginable to me when I was a teenager enjoying summers in the Hamptons. Although I was busy riding my bike, swimming and painting and drawing on my own but missing the museums and galleries and art classes I enjoyed back in the city. Although the Hamptons now has good Modern and Contemporary galleries and the museums, especially the Parrish and Guild Hall, bringing Hirschl and Adler, Will Barnet and the Wally Findlay Gallery under one roof was a bit like bringing my artistic girlhood to the Hamptons.


So, as I rounded the corner at ArtHamptons and discovered the Wally Findlay Galleries International, Inc., including Impressionist paintings and Dufy, I knew that for me personally this ArtHampton is an especially wonderful event. I had no idea how very special.


Thanks to Stephanie Borynack, V.P.. International Director and Patricia Attoe, Assistant to the Director of the Wally Findlay Galleries International, Inc., for the use of the Jean Dufy image. Thanks to William Meek of the Harmon-Meek Gallery for the use of the Will Barnet image.

[Note 07/24/08 : My newsletter article for artnet.com on ArtHamptons went live midweek, so I am postponing uploading the next installment to this blog for a few days. It will be more on ArtHamptons, and how I came to write for art.netcom. Here is the link to the newsletter article July artnet.com newsletter]

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One Reply to “ArtHamptons – Beginnings”

  1. Thank you for uploading this picture. I love Dufy too.
    🙂

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