Residents and visitors of the East End will once again travel the globe this summer without ever leaving the Hamptons. Their stationary journey will let them take in the latest happenings in the contemporary art scene in New York, Paris, Madrid or London. From July 11-14, an enormous white tent at Bridgehampton’s Nova’s Ark Sculpture Field will serve as the gateway to the world’s art when the sixth annual ArtHamptons returns.
The ArtHamptons tent is an amazing feat in and of itself, with air conditioning, food courts and lounges. Inside it looks and feels like a sophisticated gallery or museum, even though days earlier it was nothing more than grass and maybe a few chipmunks and birds.
Rick Friedman organizes all the particulars as the founder and director of the Hamptons Expo Group. The Expo is one of the fastest growing fine art fair organizers in the country, with shows in Houston, Aspen and Palm Beach. For five years Friedman’s ArtHampton summer celebration brought gallery and art lovers together in a relaxing, rejuvenating, idyllic space.
“We really are a celebration of art in the Hamptons,” Friedman said. “We’re celebrating the fact that we live in a historically famous, creative community. A Hamptons bohemia, if you will, not only for the visual artists, but for writers and poets.”
The Hamptons certainly has a rich cultural legacy to celebrate—a heritage that traces its roots back from Winslow Homer, through Pollock, Krasner, de Kooning, Motherwell and Warhol. But ArtHampton is more than just visual arts. Writers from Melville to Vonnegut will be a part of the show. Pulitzer Prize and Tony award-winning playwright Edward Albee will be honored with the Arts Patron of the Year award in celebration of his philanthropic efforts in the art community.
Through Friedman’s insistence on only the best quality in every aspect of the show, ArtHamptons has grown internationally, boasting a longer list of galleries and expected attendees and a wider scope of activities. With VIP parties, participating institutions that range from the Metropolitan Museum, the Guggenheim and MoMA to Carnegie Hall and the NYC Ballet, numerous galas and receptions, serious gastronomical participation by local chefs, and even a mini polo match, ArtHamptons is one of the most important social destinations of the season.
But it takes great galleries to make a great art fair. This year, over 70 of the top galleries from more than 10 countries are coming to ArtHamptons to show a world full of works of art in painting, sculpture, photography and other media. It gives visitors the rare chance, Friedman said, “to explore all the depths and range of art and galleries from around the world.”
As a serious collector Friedman understands what a treasure art can be. “It enhances your life and it becomes part of you,” Friedman said. He recalled how it started for him. “My first purchase was a Roy Lichtenstein print I bought at a Guild Hall sale. I was so excited I didn’t sleep for three nights. Really.”
Visitors wearing everything from Fendi to flip-flops (sometimes both) go to the show for a fun, engaging way to see a condensed, informed and exhilarating vision of the contemporary global art scene. “To see the people walking in,” Friedman said, “and to see the excitement on their faces when they see this, is really quite satisfying. People are amazed.”