BRIDGEHAMPTON, New York — The car wound down the hilly entrance to the Sculpture Fields at Nova's Ark, the expansive art lawn in Bridgehampton, and stopped in front of the massive ArtHamptons tent, erected for the fifth consecutive year. The floor of the fair's lobby was splattered with paint — a recreation of the Springs, New York studio of Jackson Pollock, the artist whose work is the theme of this year's fair.
"Are you from JP Morgan?" the woman at the desk asked.
This was a perplexing question to get at the front of an art fair, but upon entry, a quick walk to the plush VIP nook in the back confirmed that the bank was hosting a little happy hour at 2:00 in the afternoon. The space was littered with photos Pollock painting in his studio — always cigarette-in-mouth — alongside some of his sketches. Even the VIP tables had spatter-paint table cloths.
It's unclear whether the nametag-bearing bankers had stopped by the booths at ArtHamptons to snap up a piece or two, but many choice offerings were certainly there to be had. ArtHamptons boasts 3,000 works of art by 400 artists, represented by 77 galleries from around the world. There are Warhol Polaroids (at Danzinger), Michael Childers's pictures of Hollywood legends like Paul Newman and Dennis Hopper (Michael H. Lord gallery), Lisa Jack's famed pictures of president Barack Obama as a young man at Occidental College (Mark Borghi Fine Art), and a Cheech Marin-curated booth of works by his favorite Chicano artists (Thomas Paul Fine Art).
But the ghost of Jackson Pollock, whose house now stands as the lasting legacy of all painters who have worked in the Hamptons, loomed large. Art historian Gail Levin was on hand to discuss Pollock's wife — and painter in her own right — Lee Krasner, the subject of her latest book. Later on Friday, the highlight of the three-day fair was a celebration of the artist's 100th birthday.
Elsewhere, there was a panel moderated by artist Dan Rizzie entitled "The Last Taboo: The Nexus Between Money and Art." "Do you remember Tulipomania, in Holland?" Rizzie asked the crowd. "The price of a simple Tulip skyrocketed. There were people selling their house for a bulb. And then it went bust!" He was talking about the art market.
Among the living, Cheech Marin, who is being honored as Arts Patron of the Year, held court. Hamptons.com threw a birthday bash for the "Cheech & Chong" actor in the Polo Lounge, another posh corner of the tent.
Meanwhile outside, a performance took place in which a male model and a female model — both covered head-to-toe in white paint, both naked from the waist up — stood in the front of a blank screen as a man with a bucket splattered yellow, blue, and red paint on them. That's right: Here, even people were canvasses for Jackson Pollock homages.
"It's very festive and very arty," Marin told ARTINFO, of the party and the performance.
Did he consider getting up there himself?
"No, I'm chicken," he said. "I didn't want to get paint all over me. Plus, I've seen enough naked women in my life."
Around 4:20, a big chocolate cake came out, and instead of birthday candles stuck into the frosting, there were what appeared to be joints. This was not exactly a JP Morgan party.
Marin lit one.
"Make a wish!" someone yelled.
Swatting the smoke toward his face, Marin broke into a big smile. Perhaps that wish had already come true.