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In the late 1970s, a few years into publishing our almost-monthly newspaper, SunStorm, we began to make forays out to the Hamptons, to sell advertising and expand our coverage of the arts. With our youthful enthusiasm, we met wonderful people who became part of the fabric of our publication, some of whom are friends to this day. Artists and gallerists; curators and critics; shopkeepers and the occasional rock star/mogul. Not in our wildest dreams did we imagine that within a few years we would have an unpublished essay by Kurt Vonnegut and a cover feature on Elaine de Kooning in our pages and that later Rick Friedman would make us a media sponsor of ArtHamptons, allowing us to fulfill our long-standing dream of publishing this, our inaugural edition of Hamptons Fine Art and launching www.hamptonsfineart.com.
Dan Rattiner and his good friend Vonnegut are from an era when the written word mattered. Slaughterhouse Five is a classic of American literature, up there with the great works by Steinbeck, Faulkner, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Dan’s articles and essays are classics in their own right. He is so dedicated, every day he is at his machine for an hour and half, enough time to complete one of his articles/columns that are the focal point of Dan’s Papers, which he started as a college student summering in Montauk. He could have been jerking sodas at his father’s drugstore, but he had a flair for writing and a vision, so he mocked up a selling dummy, found a printer and has published continuously ever since, achieving an extremely high level of success. Almost 50 years later, and approaching his 70th birthday, Dan is as fervent and productive as ever, if not more so, with exhibits of his art, a novel in the works and “A Churchillian experience with this memoir business.” With a background in architecture, which he studied at Harvard, he combines humor and satire with an engineer’s understanding of the way things are supposed to be and Dan’s Papers remains a strong voice of reason on Long Island’s East End. “I feel like I’m a coach for the Hamptons,” he said in a recent interview. “Like they are a football team and every year we’re going to go out and play again. Every year the rules and players change but thinking about now, the truth is this year there’s a lot more people than last.”
And so it goes…Kurt, thank you for that line and that point of view and helping us out back then, even as you were helping your friend Sid Solomon, who was exhibiting at Ruth Vered’s East Hampton gallery. Vered supported our newspaper with regular ads and a very open rolodex allowing us the opportunity to meet and interview some great artists. Our visit to Elaine de Kooning came about through Vered, who was showing living artists back then. At one of her openings, Billy Joel came out to jam with the legendary harmonica player and whistler Toots Thielmans, whose trio was performing at Balcomb Greene’s exhibit. Larry Rivers would occasionally play there at openings with his jazz band. Meeting and interacting with these folk on a creative level was quite a coup for our little newspaper, which survived on the kindness of Vered, Elaine Benson and a host of others —Gustavo and Ivan of Galeria Dos in Westhampton, Jerry Gallen of the Intuit collection, the Bologna/Landi guys, Rose and Rose of Gallery East. We printed in Sag Harbor, with our compadre Skip Keener who always managed to “git ’er done” even as we’d sleep on the beach waiting for it to come off press, (after a few all night production sessions) in sight of the bridge from which Ray Johnson dove that cold January day. He used to come to our home when we lived in a church in Bayville in the late 70s with his mail art, which was quite notorious at the time, even more so after his death. He always seemed upset about something, some slight form the art world, ready to break at any moment. The point is, we creative souls must nourish each other and that is the goal of our contributor JP Audra, (founder of the Creativists) who ventured from Montréal last May to visit Jackson Pollock’s grave in Springs. He writes, “My Dear Jackson and Lee: I am following that long Fireplace Road getting closer to your home and studio. It is early, a misty morning. As I approach your driveway I thank GOD for having realized my wish to come to see where you lived, both of you, Jackson and Lee, the lovers, the artists, the couple, the husband and wife in life and death. Before making my visit, I had in my mind the story of a Jackson Pollock angry with his life and often brutal with the people surrounding him. His way of living, has hurt his beloved ones...Now I am visiting his place. I can see his home and the detached studio inside the old barn. I see also the famous concrete slab where he was filmed 60 years ago painting. What a place of peace and beauty! Outside, the garden and magnificent trees are blooming, the air smells of the ocean and all the birds are singing!”
…Oblivious to everything but the moment: Life by the drop, Hamptons style.