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Jun 2, 2008 12:06 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Notes from Sag Harbor

Jun 2, 2008 12:06 PM

Say the words “grey gardens” and nearly everyone calls to mind an image of a dilapidated mansion, overgrown with weeds, crawling with cats and inhabited by two eccentric women ensconced in mystery. Artists have attempted to interpret the lives of Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie, the aunt and cousin of former first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, in a variety of ways.

First there was Albert and the late David Maysles’s 1976 documentary film, “Grey Gardens,” later a Broadway musical, paintings, and most recently, a book. Fascination with the two East Hampton eccentrics goes on. This weekend, a preview of an exhibit, “Tribute to Grey Gardens,” kicks off at The Gallery, 125 Main Street, Sag Harbor, on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m.

Lois Wright lived with Big Edie and Little Edie, as they were called, for a little over a year, and painted a series of portraits of the women. Her work is on view at The Gallery along with copies of her book, “My Life at Grey Gardens.” The film will be screened on Saturday, June 14, at 11 a.m. at Bay Street Theatre. The public is invited to attend. For information, call 725-7707.

Noyac artist Anne Seelbach, along with Bridgehampton artist Christine Chew Smith, will be honored at a reception for their work on view at Canio’s Gallery. “Land, Water, Land” features expressionist abstract landscapes inspired by the East End. The public is invited to attend on Sunday, June 8, from 4 to 6 p.m. The exhibition will remain on view through July 2.

Viewing the current show at the Annie Cooper Boyd House requires a leap of the imagination, something like the approach one takes on visiting the Roman Forum, but on a much smaller scale. Here, several plaster ceiling panels, each about two-and-a-half by three-and-a-half feet are propped on easels to display the various signatures left behind not by senators or gladiators, but by artists, writers, an actor and others who visited Sag Harbor.

Curator Pamela Vail Lawson took pains to research the lives and works of many of these patrons of The Art Shop, a popular hangout in the 1950s, tucked behind the library and Jefferson Street. One must imagine what it was like here then—a much quieter village, but a place still active and interesting enough to attract the likes of author Ludwig Bemelmans, creator of the famous Madeline series of children’s books, among other works.

Actor Robert Montgomery paid a visit, as did sculptor artist Michael Lekakis, a member of the Hampton Bays Artists Group who, proud as he was of his heritage, signed his name in Greek letters.

One imagines the room with signatures above and easy conversation that must have flowed through the afternoons at Gene Rhodes’s shop. There were many more visitors to the tiny retail space housed in a former chicken coop. It sold not only art supplies, but offered a selection of handcrafted wares at reasonable prices, ceramics and blown glass, the work of Czech artisans living in Riverhead at the time.

Standing in a low-ceilinged room in Annie Cooper Boyd’s bungalow, it’s not too difficult to picture Sag Harbor on a smaller scale, more accommodating to artists, and more affordable, too. The exhibit continues through the season. Museum hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Try a four-mile hike with Joe Lane through the Anna and Daniel Mulvihill Preserve this Saturday, June 7. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Sag Harbor Industries parking lot on the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike. For information, call 725-3942.

Seniors are invited on a springtime excursion set for Thursday, June 19. Cruise the Peconic River and Flanders Bay aboard Atlantis Marine World’s floating classroom. The 90-minute cruise will explore the marine life and natural history of the region. After the cruise, tour Raphael, one of the North Fork’s 
lovely wineries and enjoy lunch there. The bus departs the Bridgehampton senior center at 7:45 a.m. The trip costs $50 including lunch. Registration is required. For more information, 
call Southampton Town Senior Services at 728-1235.

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