Monday, January 28, 2013

The beauty of snow

It began snowing late Friday night and by morning a dusting of new snow glittered in the sun.  The snow resting on the tops of tree branches brought each bough into sharp relief like a painterly highlight. Lake Agawam, across Gin Lane from St. Andrew's Dune Church, was nearly frozen. The Dune church stood quietly shuttered in the crisp winter air. 
St. Andrew's Dune Church, Southampton
St. Andrew's is open from June through September. Today I was peacefully alone. Only the track of one loan dog walker made a pathway through the snow past the front door. 
According to an article in the Southampton Patch, part of the original building was a life-saving station dated from 1851. That building was virtually destroyed by the Great Hurricane of 1938. The current building was opened in 1939 and is now a very popular spot for weddings. I promise to take you back in the summer so that you can see the inside. The interior is lovely when light magnified by the sea is shining through the historic stained glass windows.

View towards Lake Agawam from ocean side
St Andrew's ocean side view
East View from Dune Church towards the Bath and Tennis club
The Old Whalers Church in Sag Harbor was also effected by the Great Hurricane of 1938. The steeple was blown off and never replaced. The building is beloved by residents for its' unique profile. More about Old Whalers Church here.
Photo from here
Whalers Church Sag Harbor
Hugh was inspired to paint the Old Whalers Church.
Old Whalers Church by Hugh Gallagher
Before heading home, I stopped at Schmidt's Market in Southampton. 
It was like going from Kansas to Oz.  A profusion of color. Eye candy.

Gorgeous Forelle Pears, yes please!

Back in the studio...
Setting the scene
Pear study, Gail Gallagher

Sunday, January 6, 2013

George Bellows and Montauk

We went to the fabulous George Bellows show at the Met last week. The exhibition is a major retrospective of Bellows work and a great opportunity to view seldom seen work held in collections all over the world. I am familiar with his boxing paintings. His 1909 "Stag at Sharkey's being one of his iconic works of that genre.
Stag at Sharkeys, 1909
36 1/4" x 48 1/4"
Cleveland Museum of Art
I was unfamiliar with his coastal paintings. A piece entitled simply "Shore House" caught my eye. Was it? Yes it was - Montauk! Bellows painted it from a sketch that he did on his honeymoon there.
Shore House, 1911
40" x 42"
Private Collection (shown in Washington & New York only)
Notes in the the catalogue about Shore House mention that according to Henry Osmers, historian at the Montauk Point Lighthouse, no dwellings existed near Montauk's bluffs in 1910, and the area had no electricity or telephone service until 1926 (footnote 8, page 322). Bellows painted an imaginary house and telephone pole on the Montauk bluffs? Possibly. He certainly did honeymoon there.  In "George Bellows, Painter of America" by Charles H. Morgan there is a charming account of Bellows and Emma Story's wedding day in September of 1910. 

"By subway, then by trolley, they journeyed for an hour and a half to St. George's Church in Williamsbridge (Bronx) where Arthur Ketchum, a one-time actor, performed the brief service that made George Bellows and Emma Story man and wife. Once on the trolley again the small party decided that the pace was too slow, and at the subway station the best man and maid of honor dipped into their cash reserves, miraculously found a taxi among the hansom cabs; and principals and entourage drove in crowded splendor to the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park where George had ordered ice cream, cake, and coffee....  George had picked his train well. They had finally rejected the idea of breaking the journey at Sag Harbor and went straight through to Montauk Point while it was still daylight. He had arranged, with rare forethought, to be met at the station. Emma never forgot the drive into the darkness surrounded by sand dunes and autumnal red grasses. They arrived at their boarding house "under a sky spilling over with stars."
Emma at the Piano, 1914
28 3/4" x 37"
Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk
What was the Sag Harbor connection? George Bellows mother, Anna Smith Bellows, was originally from Sag Harbor and the daughter of a whaling captain. Bellows must certainly have kept in touch with his Sag Harbor family. This watercolor from the the Guild Hall East Hampton collection depicts a scene there.
Road with Barn, Sag Harbor, 1899
9 7/8" x 15"
Guild Hall Collection

George Bellows' Catalogue Raisonne' listed by H.V. Allison also has a photo of a piece called "Montauk Light and Point" September 1910. Another painting listed surely looks like Montauk. It  is titled "Spring Sunshine/verso" 1910.  Neither of these pieces are in the Met show. Perhaps George was in Montauk scouting out honeymoon locations that spring.
Spring Sunshine/verso 1910
14 1/4" x 15 1/4"
Williams College
The Bellows took up residence at 149 East 19th street near Gramercy Park. This beautiful painting of the park (also from a private collection) was in the Met Museum show.
Gramercy Park
34 x 44 1/4"
Private Collection
The Bellows Exhibition is currently on at the Met until February 18th. If you can, go see it when the Met opens at 10:00, after viewing the exhibition, take the Lexington Avenue subway from 82nd street south to 23rd street and have a walk past the National Arts Club. Across the street from the club, look through the gates at New York's only private (Gramercy) park.
Gramercy Park

Then take a walk over to 149 E. 19th street. There is a plaque out front with George Bellows name on it. Pete's Tavern is close by at 18th and Irving Place for refreshments!

Pete's Tavern, established 1864
Some nice reviews of the Bellows exhibition here:
Wall Street JournalSag Harbor ExpressNew York TimesFinancial Times

George Bellows, 1882-1925
photograph c.1920 by Nickolas Muray
photo from here