At the VIP (polo) lounge set up at Nova's Ark, a Bridgehampton sculpture field, two giants went head to head: Edward Albee and Faith Ringgold. A former assistant to Larry Rivers was on the panel too, but David Joel, executive director of the Larry Rivers Foundation, did not get quite as many questions from a crowd that had gathered at this year's ArtHamptons. Why did you choose Montauk? a woman asked of Edward Albee, honored for his philanthropy in the arts. Have you ever been there? was his cheeky reply, before moving on to a riff about the beauty, nurturing and relaxed atmosphere, of artists outside the commerce of art who are invited to his foundation set up at the remote end of the east end. What plays do you like? None that are popular now, was the reply. And what books are you reading? Zoobiquity, about the relation of man to animals, said the playwright of Zoo Story, pointing out, we are the only animals consciously creating art. Faith Ringgold, honored for lifetime achievement, a red scarf wrapped about her head, said she was inspired by Albee to make a painting, "Who's Afraid of Aunt Jemima?"
Speaking about the commerce of art, Ringgold also noted the pleasure of now selling her paintings, not always the case for this African American activist artist in her mid-eighties. Her gallerist Dorian Bergen of ACA nodded in happy agreement. Ringgold's two giant cloth doll sculptures graced ACA's booth near the opening of the giant exhibition space, white, elegant, and viewer friendly. Nearby Tibor de Nagy exhibited paintings by Larry Rivers from his "Forty Feet of Fashion" series among other works by him and oils by Jane Freilicher and Fairfield Porter.
While we chatted with Ringgold, the VIP lounge became the site of considerable commotion and spectacle. A small army of men in white carried in a wooden canoe-sized float of fruit, bananas stuck up and then another of shitake mushrooms among other vegetables, as if carrying colorful open coffins to a wake: Giant coconut layer cake, red velvet cupcakes, chocolate apples on sticks adorned with nonpareils. Once the party started, women evoking cigarette girls of yore went around shucking oysters for the bemused guests. At this feast for Hamptons Magazine's 35thanniversary, the food display rivaled the art outside.
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