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Hamptons Life

Sep 18, 2011 11:49 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

At Home With Adler And Beegan

Sep 18, 2011 6:30 PM

When artist Carolyn Beegan moved into her historic Sag Harbor home 11 years ago, she modeled the living room after the American Hotel on Main Street, capturing the look of a cozy smoking parlor oozing with a British Colonial essence.

Little did she know that years later, this particular room would bring her memory back to the night she met her present-day fiancée: abstract expressionist Andrew Adler.

It was a cold winter night in 2009. Mr. Adler was at the American Hotel bar with a couple of friends when he noticed Ms. Beegan. But he was too shy to say hello.

Two days later, he saw her again.

“We were having another drink at the hotel, and I walked straight up to her, which I never do, and invited her to sit down with us,” Mr. Adler said during a recent interview at the couple’s home. “And then we just talked. All evening.”

“I was only there two nights later because of the snowstorm,” Ms. Beegan piped in, lounging on a chaise in the living room. “It’s not like I was always sitting in that seat, wearing the same sweater.”

“I was wearing the same sweater, too!” Mr. Adler said.

“You were!” Ms. Beegan recalled with a laugh. “It’s almost like we had a retake. We blew it the first time, and then we had a second chance.”

Under the falling snow, Mr. Adler walked Ms. Beegan home later that evening. He kissed her good night, and not long after, moved into her circa-1790 house on Union Street—fortifying their relationship and kick starting an artistic partnership.

The couple transformed the attic into a computer studio, leaving the painting to their workspace just up the road on Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike. Their combined style is a hybrid between digital imaging and abstract expressionism, Ms. Beegan explained.

“It was Andrew’s idea to work together,” she said.

“I was trying to keep her attention,” Mr. Adler said.

Ms. Beegan smiled, playfully shaking her head of thick red hair. Mr. Adler first grabbed her attention as an individual artist, she said, gesturing to some of his artwork around the room, including a bust on the floor and an abstract painting of calla lilies. One of her nude drawings hangs adjacent, across the way from a collection of her early oil paintings.

Small pieces of artwork on the walls tease at their travels together and separate backgrounds, as does their new collaboration. And though Ms. Beegan was there first, the house now reflects both artists, the couple said.

“I loved the character—the wide-planked floors, the moldings,” Ms. Beegan said. “It just had a lot of charm.”

“I like old houses,” Mr. Adler added. “I lived in a 550-year-old house in the south of France.”

“So he has a thing for age and charm, too,” Ms. Beegan said.

Though nearly half of Mr. Adler’s years have been spent overseas, he is no stranger to the East End. Artistic from a young age, he summered in Southampton with his father, Richard Adler, a Tony Award-winning Broadway songwriter.

“I grew up in a particular atmosphere with very well-known people around me who were very driven, ambitious and all about career,” Mr. Adler said. “And I saw that they weren’t necessarily the happiest people. But I was always painting for me. I knew it was an expression and a communication, and I wanted people to see it.”

After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1973, all Mr. Adler knew was that he wanted to explore his art. So he moved back to the Hamptons, where he worked as an assistant to abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning until 1975.

“That was the height of my artistic education,” Mr. Adler said. “He was a real laid-back guy, but just being around him was very intense. He’d come by my studio and give me sort of critiques, in his way. And the anecdotes he had, he was very rich with experience.”

Driven to gain his own life experiences, Mr. Adler left his father and de Kooning behind at age 23 for Europe. He didn’t return to the United States for three decades.

“I’d never taken advantage of America, culturally,” he said. “I always had shows and kept in touch, but I felt like I was totally isolated in the south of France. It was sort of like a dead end for me, in Europe. Even though I was showing, I felt it was time to spend some time in America. So I came back.”

Ms. Beegan wasn’t encouraged to pursue her artistic ambitions during her childhood, she said. It was merely employed as a distraction mechanism by her mother during Mass services at church, she recalled.

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