We’ve touched on some of the history of Artists and Writers in the Hamptons in past blogs:
- The Hampton’s Summer Art Scene
- July in the Hamptons (Guild Hall)
- Some of the History of Sag Harbor
- And, a little History of our Graybarn Cottage
Now let’s talk about the Artists of today!
The Arts are alive and well in East Hampton. The light, the water, the tranquility (OK, maybe not in August!) and the company of other creative souls, still attracts artists and writers to the East End. And, in Springs, Sag Harbor, and the Northwest Woods, there are still some (relatively) affordable properties to be found.
The Artists Alliance of East Hampton was formed in 1984 in memory of internationally acclaimed abstract painter, Jimmy Ernst, to carry on his vision of an artists’ community living and working on the East End of Long Island. And it really is a vibrant community, with a couple of hundred active members, offering:
- Networking opportunities for artists, artist lectures and presentations
- Community outreach programs, including high school scholarship programs and art workshops for middle school students
- Member Art Shows
- An Online Gallery
- Artists’ Studio Tours
Images from the Artists Alliance of East Hampton Membership
And Then There are Our Writers
For over 30 years, Ashawagh Hall in Springs has hosted the Ashawagh Hall Writers Workshop. “Writing is lonely work," said the group's leader, Laura Stein. “The workshop gives writers a community. When you're writing, you see everything so fully in your mind, but you don't really know what you've conveyed onto the page. The workshop enables that invaluable feedback from a supportive community."
The group’s focus is on getting published, and well over two dozen published works have come out of the attic at Ashawagh Hall.
From here, it gets convoluted. Of course writers like Truman Capote, Peter Matthiessen, Joseph Heller, Spalding Gray, and Kurt Vonnegut are amongst the many notorious Hamptons resident authors over the years. Then you have actors like Alec Baldwin writing his brilliant memoir and photographers like Michael Dweck publishing remarkable books like Mermaids and The End.
Do they qualify as Artists or Writers? Does it matter?
‘The End,’ a Book of Photography by Michael Dweck
And then there is Dan Rattiner!
Dan is an unequivocal scion of the Hamptons . . . He moved, with his family, to Montauk as a teenager and published the first edition of his free (ad supported) newspaper in 1960. First called the Montauk Pioneer, it soon became ‘Dan’s Papers. A must read for both locals and visitors to the Hamptons.
Not always to be trusted (think the weekly updates about the Hamptons Subway and, my favorite, the Giant Ecuadorian Eel!) but always to be enjoyed, Dan’s is still published weekly after all these years.
Dan has published several books based on his articles over the years:
- In the Hamptons: My Fifty years with Farmers, Fishermen, Artists, Billionaires, and Celebrities
- Still in the Hamptons: More Tales of the Rich, the Famous, and the Rest of Us
- In the Hamptons Too: Further Encounters with Farmers, Fishermen, Artists, Billionaires, and Celebrities
If you are at all interested in the Hamptons, these are not to be missed! Great beach reading.
Artists vs. Writers in . . . Softball!
Dan has been writing about the Artist & Writers Softball Game, in the Hamptons since 1968. It started in 1948 as a picnic for several artists and writers in Springs and has since become one of the most beloved and most important fundraisers for local charities . . .
Some things Dan remembers about the Artists and Writers Softball Game over the decades:
- Eugene McCarthy, the Senator from Wisconsin and former presidential candidate, playing first base in 1972 with a split in the back of his pants that nobody wanted to tell him about.
- Singer Paul Simon leaping high up against the left field fence to catch a ball and coming down on the spikes of the fence, fortunately without serious injury.
- Writer George Plimpton pitching carefully to Eric Ernst of the Artists.
- Superagent Sam Cohn at bat.
- Bianca Jagger bidding against a gallery owner from Florida for some paintings made by Eric Fischl on a clothesline behind home plate.
- Bill Clinton umpiring several innings in 1986.
- Pelé, the soccer star from Brazil, playing in the game.
- Yogi Berra making an appearance to watch his son, Dale Berra, a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, play in the game.
- Heavyweight contender Gerry Cooney hitting a single to left.
- Hippie Abbie Hoffman in 1971, after watching the first pitch to him called a strike, then watching the second one come in, for a ball, dashing down the base path to “steal” first base. (He trotted back when we told him he could not do that.)
- Christie Brinkley getting three strikes and you’re out, and after that missing the next pitch for strike four.
- Walter Isaacson playing second base. Carol Channing in the outfield. Alec Baldwin in right. Chevy Chase hitting a single. A host of others over the years – Leo Castelli, Regis Philbin, Ed Burns, John Irving, Sylvia Tennenbaum, Alan Alda, Gail Sheehy, Walter Bernard.
- Gallery owner Elaine Benson managing the Artists for 10 years and “stealing” me from the roster of the Writers to play for the Artists. She said it was a trade, but there were no other players involved, nor was any money paid!
- Working as the umpire and declaring a called third strike against billionaire Carl Icahn, standing there with the bat on his shoulder and watching the pitch come in right over the plate.
- Towering home runs (into the tennis court beyond left field) by Rick Leventhal, Bill Collage, Richard Weis and, earlier, Marty Lyons (defensive lineman for the New York Jets), and even earlier, sculptor Philip Pavia.
- Having the game delayed because the ball field had been reserved and was still being used by a group of 10-years-olds who were now still tied in the top of the fourteenth.
- Shaking hands with Barry Commoner, running for president in 1980 as a third party candidate and campaigning at the game. I didn’t care for either major candidate that year. So, I voted for Commoner because he’d gone to the trouble of shaking my hand where neither of the others, Reagan or Carter, had.
- Actor Roy Scheider pitching with good humor for the Artists for 15 years in the 1990s and 2000s.
- Billionaire publisher and real estate man Mort Zuckerman pitching for the Writers for those same 15 years with great ferocity and focus.
- The year I was declared one of two Players of the Game. It was in 1970 and I was awarded an enormous jeroboam of Champagne, which I carted home and didn’t use for several years because we never had enough people to drink it all at one sitting.
Don’t miss this year’s game!
The Artists and Writers Softball Team Photo
A few more artsy items to check out!
- Hamptons Art Hub for their Gallery & Museum Guide to the Hamptons, also for their Weekly Guide to Art & Culture Happenings in The Hamptons
- This lovely coffee table book Hamptons Bohemia: Two Centuries of Artists and Writers on the Beach by Helen Harrison, director of the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in East Hampton
- One of our favorites: Philistines at the Hedgerows: Passion and Property in the Hamptons by Steven Gaines - more anecdotes, gossip and history of the Hamptons
Hope to see you at the softball game and enjoying the local arts scene. Call us or email us to book your stay.