Young, Talented Artists Work To Make Ends Meet - 27 East

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Young, Talented Artists Work To Make Ends Meet

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author on Jun 30, 2015

There is no shortage of young artists living, working and creating on the East End. Meet John Rist, Emma Ballou, Matt Macdonald, Scott Bluedorn and Dan Roe.

John Rist

Current location: North Sea

Hometown: Southampton

Age: 32

Preferred medium: Oil on canvas with an epoxy glass coat

All it took for John Rist was one night. During his first-ever exhibition in 2005 with local gallerist Tripoli Patterson, the artist nearly sold the entire show—dark portraits of 16th-century British nobility, their heads replaced by demon-esque faces.

Now, a decade later, he is crossing the threshold into a new style of art that he claims channels goodness. In a comic style, it depicts happier, lighter material: surfing, monks, waves and seascapes—a far cry from what put the artist on the map. “Some things are Caribbean-based, and some is odd and unusual, but it’s all in the same realm,” he said. “Even when I am channeling evil, I am trying to expose evil, but now I’m painting goodness and good vibes.”

Emma Ballou

Current location: Hampton Bays

Hometown: Bruckner, Maine

Age: 28

Preferred media: Watercolor on watercolor paper, paint on glassware

Emma Ballou hails from a family of painters, so it was only natural that she continue the tradition. “I was lucky that my family always encouraged and completely understood that I wanted to do it,” she said.

Always obsessed with art, she taught herself how to work with watercolors and opened an Etsy shop to sell her pieces, as well as custom, painted wine glasses. It lit a fire under her, she said.

“It’s an itch, like I have to create. I have to paint pretty much every day after work,” the Southampton Historical Museum curator explained. “For whatever reason, it feels so much freer doing art on Long Island than it has anywhere else.”

Matt Macdonald

Current location: Southampton

Hometown: Southampton

Age: 27

Preferred media: Acrylic on canvas and sculpture

Matt Macdonald’s artistic roots sprouted from age 8 to 12 under the mentorship of local artist Paton Miller, who curated and featured his work in “East End Collected” last month at the Southampton Arts Center. Mr. Macdonald’s work draws inspiration from the great abstract expressionists—Willem de Kooning specifically, he said.

He paints with oils three to five days a week—making ends meet by designing wallpaper by day and bartending and waiting tables by night. “I have no idea where I’ll be in 10 to 15 years,” he laughed, noting that he hopes to exhibit more and possibly publish a book.

Scott Bluedorn

Current location: East Hampton

Hometown: East Hampton

Age: 28

Preferred media: Furniture design and painting

Scott Bluedorn, who was originally trained as an illustrator, labels himself as a creator. He is most inspired by the Montauk coast and his interests are vast—writing, film, furniture design and music. But no matter what he does, he always strives to find a new angle, he said. “Now I have a place to call my own,” he said of his new art studio in East Hampton. “So, anytime I’m in my studio, I am surrounded by things inspiring, precious work that I’ve done, too. That helps.”

Dan Roe

Current location: Sag Harbor

Hometown: Southampton

Age: 29

Preferred media: Illustrations and film

Having learned to draw before he could write, Mr. Roe’s longtime knack for illustration paid off last September when The New Yorker published his first cartoon after six months of submitting 10 cartoons each week.

“The editor, Robert Mankoff, said to me, ‘You can draw, but right now you’re still an amateur. The professionals have a style,’” he said. “So, I thought I could be a professional, if I develop a style.”

He took his advice. Now, his signature style is marked by monochrome, black-and-white, semi-realistic drawings with little to no shading.

And four more cartoons have run to date.

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