Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tulips and Windmills

A steady drizzle has reduced the size of the snow mounds, revealing the tips of tulips.  Another harbinger of spring, the application for the Guild Hall Member Show came in the mail this week, prompting a visit to the Guild Hall web site. I was struck again by the beauty of Thomas Moran's painting Midsummer Day, East Hampton, which features a windmill on the horizon.
A Midsummer Day, East Hampton
Thomas Moran, 1903
Oil on canvas board, 13 1/3" x 19 1/2"
Guild Hall permanent collection
The Hook Mill, built in 1806, is an East Hampton landmark much like the Empire State Building in NYC or Eiffel Tower in Paris. You see it, admire it, but don't really think about it much. New York State has the largest number of traditional windmills in America, with 11 of them in the Hamptons. Built between 1795 and 1820, they commemorate a long gone age and are a reminder of our beginning as New Amsterdam.
Hook Mill, photo from here
Gardiner's Mill, East Hampton, 1933
Samuel H. Gottscho photographer, photo from here
The mill not only functioned as a place for farmers to bring their grain to be ground into flour, but was also a place for the members of the community to meet and catch up on the local news. Later on, artists where inspired by the their graceful skirted design
Windmill at Sundown, East Hampton
Childe Hasssam 1898
Oil on canvas, 29" x 22 1/4"
Huntington Museum of Art, West Virginia
Windmill at Sundown, East Hampton portrays the Hook Mill. Hassam painted it in 1898, the year of his first visit to the Hamptons. In 1919, Hassam purchased a home in East Hampton and began spending May through October in the country. (references here and here) He painted the Hayground Mill in a later work, Bending Sail on the Old Mill.
Bending Sail on the Old Mill
Childe Hassam, 1920
24" x 30"
private collection
The windmills were part of the Library of Congress Historic American Buildings Survey and the Historic American Engineering Record. You can find old photos and architectural drawings here.  The engraving Grist Mills at East Hampton depicts the Hook Mill and the Pantigo Mill when they were both located near each other. Many of the mills have been moved. Some more than once.
Grist Windmills at East Hampton
published by D. Appleton and Co. NY
wood engraving, c.1870
Image from here
Hook Mill drawing from the Library of Congress
The Discover Long Island web site  has a complete list of the Hampton's historic windmills. The windmill in Sag Harbor is not on this list. It was built in 1966 as the home for a tourism information booth. A 2012 editorial on the Sag Harbor windmill in Dan's papers gives a brief summary of its history here. Despite it's lack of a lengthy pedigree, Sag Harbor residents love their windmill. It was recently refurbished with new shingles. Something that I don't think would have been done if it was one of the antique models.
Sag Harbor Windmill
Pretty as a postcard, the Sag Harbor windmill also inspires local artists. Hugh began a painting of it over the holidays. He is allowing me to give you a preview, its not done yet!
Sag Harbor Windmill, Hugh Gallagher
beginning sketch, oil on canvas
The "Home Sweet Home" Museum is the current location of the Pantigo Windmill built in 1804, which was moved there in 1917.  The Museum is the home of John Howard Payne the lyricist of the song "Home Sweet Home". A version of the song here. The museum is across from the Town Green and near the Guild Hall museum as well as the soon to be renovated Thomas Moran home and studio.

Pantigo Mill photo from here
Google stalking the windmills of Long Island has gotten my curiosity piqued. A windmill pilgrimage may be in my future. A visit to the "Home Sweet Home" Museum is definitely something I must do. Perhaps painting en plain air when the trees are in bloom?
Home Sweet Home Cottage, East Hampton
Childe Hassam 1919

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The curious lives of Cappy Amundsen

Cappy Amundsen
outside his studio, ca. 1990
photo Linda K. Alpern
Not so long ago you may have seen a scruffy looking denizen of a Sag Harbor watering hole and wondered what his story was. If you turned to the regular on the bar stool next to you and asked about him, your fellow patron may have said, "oh, I think he paints seascapes" or "just some old sailor" or possibly something less flattering.  In reality though, you would have been looking at an artist who had lived a legendary life among New York City's 20th century painting giants. An excellent book written by Terry Wallace describes his amazing life. C. Hjalmar Amundsen was born Casper Hjalmar Emerson, III in New York City in 1911.  He was known as "Cappy" and passed away in relative obscurity in 2001.
Cappy Amundsen 1947, Washington Square Art Show
Cappy was one of the founders of the Washington Square Outdoor Art Show with Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning among others. He also followed in the tradition of many East End painters by teaching summer painting classes en plein air.
Cappy worked as a commercial fisherman, did cover illustrations for Motor Boating magazine, and became actively involved in Sag Harbor Village activities. He produced a myriad of artistic work portraying harbor life on the East Coast. Unfortunately, Cappy confuses those of us who wish to collect his work by painting under numerous pseudonyms. Sadly, when Cappy passed away, those who loved the paintings of J.J. Enwright or A. Emerson may not have known to mourn.
Sticking the Prey - Cappy Amundsen 24" x 34"
Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum
In the book, "Cappy, The Life and Art of C. Hjalmar Amundsen" Terry Wallace speculates on what may have caused Amundsen to paint under various aliases (at least a dozen). Was it was because Cappy's father was involved in a much publicized marriage scandal? Perhaps it was because he was so prolific he could find markets for each painting identity that he created. We will probably never know.

Terry Wallace's book on Cappy is an interesting read for both art enthusiast and history buff. Reading it reminded me of that old adage not to judge a book by it's cover and that you may still be able to find a masterpiece at a yard sale. "Cappy" is available at Wallace Gallery and at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum.
Three Mile Harbor, East Hampton - Cappy Amundsen 24" x 36"
Wallace Gallery
Afternoon, Hampton Bays - J.J. Enwright (Cappy Amundsen) 12" x 16"
Wallace Gallery
Fishing Port in Winter - J.J. Enwright (Cappy Amundsen) 24" x 36"
Wallace Gallery
Passing Montauk Point - Cappy Amundsen, 24" x 30"
Cappy Amundsen, 1961
"Village Character an Art World Legend" by Rick Murphy here
"Cappy, The Life and Art of C. Hjalmar Amundsen" here
"On the Waterfront" by Annette Hinkle here
"An Artist of Many Names and Talents" by Richard Barons here
Cappy Amundsen via Terry Wallace on Facebook here

I liberally cribbed and summarized from Terry Wallace's great book.
CAPPY The Life and Art of C. Hjalmar Amundsen
Terry Wallace
Published 2011 by M.T. Fine Arts, Inc. in association with the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Supplying the creative urge

Golden Eagle Valentine's Day display
February has begun and even if Staten Island Chuck and Punxsutawney Phil say spring will be here in no time, Malvern Mel says that we still have some cold weather to deal with. If winter is making you as stir crazy as it is me, you may want to tap your creative side while indoors. Culinary creativity is fine, but arts and crafts are calorie free! Golden Eagle Art has everything you need to explore your creative side. Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Perhaps something home made?
The Golden Eagle Art store in East Hampton has an extensive selection of supplies for most artistic endeavors. There are various brands of oil, watercolor and acrylic paints. Canvas, paper and journals. The store was originally established in 1954 and has a rich history of clientele. Everyone from Jackson Pollock and William de Kooning to yours truly has replenished their supplies and discovered new inspirations within. I love browsing through the assortment of creative wares.

Golden Eagle also holds classes for  every age and level of learning. Their website describes special art themed birthday parties for kids. Some might be fun for adults too.

Last week, a friend was musing that she wanted to get a big canvas and do a painting of the sea. Sonya has never painted before. My suggestion, "Go to Golden Eagle!" I am sure that Tracy would help her get started.

Link to classes HERE
Paint to suit every artistic need.

A huge assortment of fine paper for wrapping or scrapbooking.

A large selection of "Grab and Go" projects for young hands.

The classes at Golden Eagle are taught by accomplished local artists.
Click on each name to view an artist's work:
Visitors are encouraged to contribute to the Community Sketch Book at the register.
a page in the sketchbook
Golden Eagle
Facebook: Golden Eagle Art