Tag Archives: montauk

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Curating Culture: Our Interview with Gallerist Bill Powers

Of the hundreds of art spaces in New York City, Bill Powers and his Half Gallery stand out. Behind signature rose-colored glasses, Powers has a keen eye for exceptional talent, who he lets run wild in his recently relocated uptown space. Along with his wife, designer Cynthia Rowley—whom he met while interviewing her for BlackBook magazine—he also runs Exhibition A, curating and selling affordable prints by some of the city’s best artists. The native New Yorker and Montauk local has also dabbled in reality TV—as judge of Bravo’s Work of Art. But that’s just the half (no pun intended) of it: he’s also a published author, master networker, and still finds time for family, surfing, and talking to us about all of the above.

On Montauk:
My grandparents had a fishing boat at the Montauk Marine Basinand we used to stay on the boat when I was a little kid. In a lot of ways it remains the same [as it was back then], in that there are no traffic lights, and all the touristy t-shirt shops you could ever want. And I think that John’s ice cream shop opened the year I was born in ’67. I love Montauk. It’s the least Hamponized out of any of the towns out here still. I know people have the “no fedora” stickers and complain about too many nightclubs. But if you don’t seek that stuff out and just go to the beach and go surfing and grill at your house you can be immune to a lot of those invasion complaints.

On meeting Cynthia:
I was a little nervous. The one funny thing is I stepped out of the room for a minute. I don’t remember if I left the tape recorder on, or if she turned it on, but she goes to her assistant, “I mean, he’s cute but these questions are really boring.” Then later when I was transcribing the tape and I got to that point, my ego demanded that it had to be a joke. That was either 1996 or 1997. Then we both married other people. When we got divorced, years later, we got together.

On the beach in East Hampton

His wife’s creativity:
I always think it’s amazing that she got her creative/commercial spark from her grandfather on her mom’s side, who had gone to Pratt and was an illustrator. In her office, she has the Pabst Blue Ribbon logo that he designed with his name on the bottom and a Patent Pending stamp. I think it’s an interesting clue to her wanting to do something creative that has that immediate commercial application.

Prepping for interviews:
Now I pretty much only interview artists. Last year Gagosian put out a book of my artist interviews. Most of the time it’s someone whose work I know or have admired. What’s nice about doing an interview like that is it’s like looking for an apartment in New York: you just have to ask everyone you know that you think might have information. I can’t remember who told me that Ed Ruscha used to live in Swifty Lazar’s old house; or I remembered seeing Dan Colen collecting trash in a Louis Vuitton bag and thought, “What the hell is this?” It turned out to be the beginning of his collecting stuff for his Trash paintings. Sometimes proximity is information too.

Getting into the gallery business: In 2008 I was helping the guys from the nonprofit RxArt find a space on the Lower East Side. They only needed half the space and they were looking for someone to rent out the front half of their office. I ran it by Andy Spade, and he said let’s do something together and we’ll call it Half Gallery.

Artist discovery:
There’s not really a formula to it. We opened this Eddie Martinez show (below). And we’re doing a Rene Ricard tribute show. Then we’re showing an Irish painter that Richard Prince discovered on Twitter last year. So there’s not really a clear path.

Uptown vs. Downtown:
After being downtown for five years we were ready for a change. At the time it seemed unexpected to move to the Upper East Side, but we’re a block from where Calder and Picasso used to show. We’re a block away from the old Castelli Gallery. There are more and more galleries opening up here. It’s funny to see Harmony Korine open up here at Gagosian. It’s nice to walk some new floors and get some new ideas. On the business side it’s been amazing. We get less foot traffic at the openings, but more buyers. Since we moved up here we’ve been written up in the New Yorker twice and that never happened downtown. I don’t mean to be a geographic snob because I know the New Yorker will also write about shows downtown, but it never happened for us.

Montauk’s artist history:
I appreciate that there’s art out here. I like that it’s where Warhol had his house, and Peter Beard is still out here. And Julian Schnabel’s in the Seven Sister’s houses as well as Bruce Weber.

Surfing slip-ups:
I once made the mistake of excitedly asking Kelly Slater, “Have you ever been surfing out in Montauk?” and he’s like “Yeah, it sucks, why do you ask?” And I was like, “Oh, never mind.”

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On reality TV:
I think it’s one and done on that. I had a lot of fun and it would have been cool if it kept on going just because there’s so little art on television.

His summer reading list:
There’s the catalog for the Raymond Pettibon “Surfers” show. Cynthia has a few copies for sale in the store in Montauk [696 Montauk Hwy]. The last book I read was Rachel Kushner’s Flame Throwers.


Prohibition Era: The History of Montauk’s Rum Runners

Montauk—our favorite drinking village with a fishing problem—has had a long love affair with the bottle. So when that romance was threatened during Prohibition from 1920 to 1933, Long Island’s alcohol aficionados took matters into their own hands, spawning one of the most creative black-market rum running operations this side of the Atlantic.

The booze ban officially went into effect on January 16, 1920, and literally the following day Montauk’s waters were populated with trafficking ships from Nova Scotia, England, and Cuba, smuggling everything from Canadian whiskey to Jamaican rum. The boats would lurk 12 miles offshore, just past US territorial waters, in a line-up that became known as Rum Row. Because of its harbors, bays, and inlets, along with its proximity to New York City, the East End was the perfect location for this kind of illegal activity.

Each night, a flotilla or small craft would sneak out of Fort Pond Bay, head straight for the Rum Line, and bring boat-loads of bottles back to the shores of Gin Beach, Shagwong, and Oyster Pond. The cargo was then either transported to the many speakeasies that had popped up in the city, in the North Fork, and in Montauk, or was stashed in Montauk’s sand dunes for safekeeping. Long Island’s most glamorous speakeasy was the Island Club, on Star Island, where the Montauk Yacht Club sits today. Built by Carl Fisher—a friend of Al Capone’s—the club became a haven for those rich and parched, like John Barrymore, Errol Flynn, Ernest Hemingway, and then-mayor of New York, Jimmy Walker. The nightclub and casino thrived openly until a raid by the Feds in 1930.

Fishermen were the pioneers of this black-market business. To keep their operation going, dodging the Coast Guard and customs boats was key. But the law wasn’t the smugglers’ greatest threat (if caught, chances were they could reclaim their booty after posting bail): it was pirates and mobsters like then 19-year-old Capone, who got his start bootlegging.

The one man who could be trusted was Captain William McCoy, who is credited for establishing Rum Row. His schooner “Arethusa” was open for business 24 hours a day for anyone with the balls to paddle out to her. While other rum runners would water down their goods, McCoy was known for his fair prices, selling real, quality goods like Johnny Walker Red and Bacardi brought from two small French-owned islands off the coast of Newfoundland. His product, so the legend goes, became known as “The Real McCoy.”

Fortunately for this thirsty town, Prohibition only lasted for 13 years. Today, rum runners are part of the area’s legacy; but if you look hard enough—and enjoy enough of these now-legal spirits—you can still make out the faint silhouette of Captain McCoy’s vessel somewhere along the ocean’s horizon.

William “Bill” McCoy aboard his flagship Tamoka – image via Mariners Museum Image Library


Header image via drinkingcup.net

Ed Sharpe

Edward Sharpe’s Merry Band of Revelers: Montauk Music

Getting 10 band members in synch on a rhythm is one thing; fitting 10 band members on a stage is another. Both are challenges the extended family of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros—led by vocalist Alex Ebert—embrace with enthusiasm. The traveling troupe exudes a 70s beach town vibe, which we saw at their Surf Lodge show earlier this summer, where they played all the hits like “Home.” Here, we chat with band members Christian Letts and Orpheo McCord, in between sets.

How many people are you with on tour right now?
Orpheo McCord: Ten in the band plus crew.

How did you guys first get involved with Edward Sharpe, and Alex?
Christian Letts: I met Alex when I was 3. We went to preschool together. I moved from London; he was the first guy I met when I was a kid. Then him and Jade met a while back and we met Orpheo in a teepee! The rest of us are just a collection of old friends getting together to make a bigger group.

How does your process work? Did you guys play and write music together growing up as well?
CL: We were always creating together. Messing around with music since we were kids. Now it varies. Alex is the most prolific dude in the world. He writes so many songs.
OM: Dude, so many songs.

Do you guys write while you’re on the road?
CL: A lot of that happens by yourself, first. Writing a song is a really vulnerable thing. The most naked you’ll feel sometimes when it goes wrong. But you grow from it.
OM: A lot of times, we’re in the back lounge, and ideas will start to come into play. Other times it’ll just kind of come out of nowhere, when we’re in the studio. The last record,Alex had a couple demos that weren’t even intended to be actual final recordings, and then we just built on top of those.
CL: They were so vibey, we were like, “Man!”

What’s it like being on the road with you?
OM: We’ve been doing this together for seven years, and pretty consistently. We spend a lot of time together. It’s pretty much a family. Like any family you get the different dynamics and people go through different things at different times. But for the most part, it’s just a really strong support system.

How do you create a home on the bus or a home on tour, when you guys are away a lot?
CL: It kind of feels like home being on the bus! I was tripping out of, like, moving out of my place, and I was like, man, I have nowhere to go after that. I don’t know where I’m going yet, you know? And then I got on the bus. It’s almost one of the most familiar places to me for the past seven years.
OM: A lot of us in the band have folding bicycles and that’s a huge element of being on the road for us. A lot of the time, you have the bus parked somewhere and you don’t have the freedom to move around much, so that gives you that freedom and to get the exercise.

Edward Sharpe started as a kind of messianic fictional character. How much has this persona changed as you’ve grown and morphed yourselves as a band?
OM: It’s never been a part of the band. It was just a character in a fictitious story that Alex came up with, and it was more like it had a good ring to it for a band name. But there was never any intention of this character we were going to personify in some way. Even though people have projected this messianic thing onto Alex, it’s just been a part of his process and growth.

This is your first time in Montauk—what’s your first impression?
CL: I just woke up. And I saw you guys. You guys are my first impression of Montauk.
OM: I’m not really used to East Coast beach towns. I grew up in California on the coast, so I’m used to that vibe. The landscape’s different. The style is different, everybody dresses a little more like, the New York vibe. A lot more brimmed hats, I guess.

Who has the better beach bums? New York or LA?
CL: LA, definitely. There’s not even a comparison. You can’t be a beach bum here in December! You’d freeze your balls off. In LA, it’s a year-round experience.


Kassia Meador: Our Interview with the First Lady of Longboarding

When most teenagers were up to typical coming-of-age antics, longboarding pioneer Kassia Meador was up at dawn with her dad, catching some of the world’s most epic waves in Malibu, California. When dad wasn’t free, she’d go on solo missions, taking the bus from her home in the Valley, staying on the beach all day to hone her beautiful wave riding skills.

Just shy of 15, Meador caught the attention of revered board shaper Donald Takayama, and former surf champion Jeff Hakman. They introduced Meador to her first sponsor ROXY and the world of longboarding was never the same. Today, at 32, she’s one of the most iconic – and enthusiastic – surfers around, inspiring a generation of style-conscious riders in her wake. Her skill and elegance have garnered nicknames such as the “Queen of Noseriding,” “Princess of Style” and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis likened her to “Ginger Rogers on a surfboard.”

Meador has also successfully crossed over from the surf industry to artistic endeavors as a photographer, designer and as a collaborator to a slew of other creatives. She even appeared as Lindsay Lohan’s wave-riding body double in artist Richard Phillips’ short film “First Point.”

The quintessential California girl, Meador’s vocabulary is peppered with a lot of “awesome” and she frequently talks about good vibes. She’s harnessing this charm with an entrepreneurial spirit to launch her eponymous wetsuit line after 14 years working with ROXY. A nod to the free-spirited 1970s, KASSIA includes plenty of tie-dye and bright hues.

Photos by: Dane Peterson

Where are you based?
Technically our area code is Santa Monica, but we are like two blocks outside of Venice, right in the hood. I have lived in Venice on and off, over the years. My boyfriend and I moved to Santa Monica about a year and a half ago. Once Google came to Venice the dynamics and the price point changed a lot.


The Venice I know from growing up is this super chill town with a bunch of hippies where everyone hangs out on the beach.
There is still that dynamic, but then there are other things: like when you’re going to get a coffee and people are looking at you through Google glasses. I’m like, who and what are you looking at? It is weird that we live in a place and time where people can take one look at you and know everything about you in a few seconds with those things. It’s super scary and kinda’ takes the romance out of life. I didn’t even have an email address until after high school and now people have Google glasses. I wish we had hover craft skateboards—that would be way more future fun.

You first started surfing around age 14. How did you learn?
My dad would take me to the beach because he surfed. But he’s the kind of guy that’s like, “Here’s a surfboard, I’m going to be out and I’ll see you in a few hours.” So I kind of taught myself just by watching people, and then hanging out at Malibu Beach. Pretty much all my favorite longboarders were there all the time. I’m a very visual person and you learn a lot by watching someone’s technique and the way somebody does something. Then you translate it into your own.

Your first contest was the ROXY Wahine Classic in Costa Rica at age 15. What was it like being in a high stress situation at such a young age?
For me going to Costa Rica was just a chance to go out into the world and find other waves and spots that brought me to that blissful place, and meet other people that shared the love of the ocean and surfing like I did. When you travel you meet people from all over the world that share the same passion as you – that’s what it was more about for me. The contest aspect didn’t really phase me at the time because I was just having fun.

At this point you’ve established yourself in the industry, but is it a challenge for other women to be recognized in surfing?
I never really had to face a lot of challenges. I just came into the world with open arms and people were super psyched. I think for the most part men would rather see a lot of awesome women surfing in the lineup than a lot of other dudes. If you go out there with respect, people are going to respect you back. But like anything – even other drivers that you encounter on the highway – some people are just dicks, and just want to cut you off no matter what you’re doing.

What tips you would offer someone who’s just getting into surfing?
Just remember it’s for fun, and don’t try and be the best person in the water. It’s not about being the best, it’s about having the best time. The thing with surfing is it’s the one place you really have to go that there are no rules for the most part. The rules and laws of nature still apply in that it’s good to be cautious, and to trust your instincts but you don’t have to be good to surf, just have a good time. Everybody falls, whether you’re Kelly Slater or Steph Gilmore, or whomever, you’re always falling. It’s just about the experience.

Aside from Southern California, do you have a favorite beach you love to surf?
I love going out to Montauk, New York every summer. New York is one of those places that it’s not good as often as some places in California, but when it does get good, it’s so much more fun and you can get so much more out of it because people don’t expect it. It’s nice to see people work so hard in the city and then come to Montauk and really chill out. And you can see stars for days. I love that juxtaposition. I also always love Australia because there are point breaks. I love traveling to Indonesia primarily for the waves. The waves are so awesome there, it’s like magic. I really like going to Mexico, because it’s like the fantasy – the dusty dirt road and finding a perfect wave at the end of it.

You travel so much, what does “home” mean to you?
It’s definitely my boyfriend, my dog, my friends and family. That’s home to me for sure. It’s such an awesome thing to be a surfer because you have this connected community that doesn’t live in the same place as you, but then when you’re traveling all over the world that family vibe extends. I can be in France and feel at home because I’m with my people. That’s really unique about surfing – it’s a nomadic tribal culture.


Does your boyfriend surf?
He does. He’s not a pro surfer, but he grew up on the beach between Florida and France. His dad surfed in France, his uncle surfed in Florida so he’s a water person. He doesn’t really know the industry side of it, so that’s awesome because we can just share the pure love of surfing together, which is so radical.

Did you meet in the water?
We actually met at a taco truck. I was getting tacos and he weirdly had a sandwich, but that’s where we met. The vibe was there instantly. We went to that taco place again for our anniversary. We fell in love over our mutual adoration for ceviche.

You’re also a photographer, and pursue other creative endeavors. Do you approach surfing in the same headspace as you do these creative fields?
There are different headspaces for surfing and going out and designing wetsuits or shooting photos. But I think the eye that I’ve learned through surfing or the way that I see the world and the inspiration I get from going out into the ocean transfers into my other passions. It’s who I am. I love shooting photos, being conscious of the light. A lot of that came from surfing, paddling out at different times, seeing the sun all backlight and different flares. You see so many sunsets and sunrises as a surfer. It’s little things like that that have always stuck out in my mind.


Do you look at any other photographers as inspiration?
All the time. Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon, David Bailey. But I look at everything for inspiration. Life is inspiration.

You just launched your own wetsuit line, KASSIA. How’s that going?
So good. The website is up and running, and we just launched the em part of the site so people can start to pre book. Select stores will have them as of April 15th. Everything has a very positive vertical trajectory, which is really awesome. And because were only doing limited numbers we can focus on making the best quality, most visually dynamic, technically functional suits we possibly can.

There’s a quote on your website that reads, “Live your dreams or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” Was that sentiment the inspiration for going out on your own after being sponsored by major brands like ROXY?
Yeah, I’ve been with ROXY for a really long time and it was so awesome. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot, but I had to look for something else, a new chapter. Every fish can only grow so big in a fish tank and then you have to move to another tank to continue to push the limits and grow. It’s awesome that now that I have an opportunity to keep expanding in a different way and take everything I learned from that experience and all those years into a new venture.

Are able to flex your creative muscles more?
Yes entirely. When your working for other brands that have their own objectives and vibe you always have to filter yourself a bit to fit into their world. But with this project there is no filter, it’s 100% pure creative flow. I am so stoked on that. And I am very lucky to be working with a good friend and epic creative team, WE ARE REFUGEE, to get things right and tight.

As a respected figure in the sport, do you think creating this line for women might help them get over that point of entry or intimidation some feel when first getting into surfing?
I hope so. It feels like a lot of women are getting into surfing now, not just kids. They are art dealers, models, musicians and they found surfing at a later point in life. It’s such a radical thing to be a part of and see happening. It is an active meditation and a way for people to get release from their daily grind and empower themselves. To make great quality products that I have always dreamed of and bring them to life with KASSIA is truly a dream come true. And I am just so stoked to help every woman have a cozier, more enjoyable surf with all of the products we plan to bring out.

Tell us about your tattoos.
I guess tattoos are just life and little moments along the way that get recorded. I have one in my lip, which is kind of a joke. It says truth, but you can barely see it anymore. Now you can see a T…R…U, so it’s more like “TRU.”

What do you do to prep for a creative project?
Yoga and meditation. They’re like spiritual workouts. That’s so important in life because everything’s so fast all the time and everybody’s so manic with everything we have going on. With technology and communication, everything gets sped up in such a way that at least for me, my mind is hyperactive. Surfing and yoga clear my head so I’m better able to filter the stuff that’s flowing through my mind and be more purposeful and direct.

We teamed up with our friends at Freunde von Freunden to bring you this interview. Check out more of their surf profiles HERE.

Raphael Mazzucco: Fashion, Photography and Frequent-Flying

Few people can say they’ve traveled the globe for two years photographing amazing butts. There are also few people that can say they’ve landed the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, three times. Few people, of course, are Raphael Mazzucco, one of the world’s most celebrated fashion photographers and one of the area’s most creative residents. In between adventures—which include a Surf Lodge exhibition and a show in London of resin and paint-layered collages, aptly titled “Montauk”—we tracked Mazzucco down at home to ask a few questions.


Where are you from?
Vancouver, Canada.

What drew you to Montauk initially?
I lived in New York City for 12 years. I came out [to Montauk] for a holiday. We were going to rent this house and we ended up buying it the day we came. It wasn’t planned, I never thought I’d live in Montauk. But now, it’s home. The house here plays a huge role for me. I love the idea of being in the house and working and going outside and hosing prints down and starting over. I’m working out of the house I love.

So your house is also your art studio. Tell us about what you’re working on here.
We’re doing tabletops (points) and this one’s with a gannet bird, it’s like seven inches thick. Everything around the house we use in the collages and we’ll put different elements of nature in the pieces. I think we used 75 gallons of resin for this. I started working with resin 15 years ago, and it came very natural. I wanted to work with it so I could make the photography look more like sculpture. It’s also cool that we’re in a surf town and there’s that connection with the resin and surfboards. It’s a subconscious thing.


Do you get in the ocean much?
I love to go swimming. When I first moved here, I’d go swimming in the bay, but I learned later there were sharks in there. I’d be swimming around and all the locals are like, “What is he on?”

You’ve been here for over a decade now, how do you find the changes in Montauk?
Even back in 2008, there were like 3,000 people living here. I actually like it more now. I like how busy it is. There’s a lot of energy. Historically, Montauk has had an amazing artist community. It’s the nature of the place. If you’re living in Montauk, the way the light is always changing is super incredible. You go from one sunset to the other.
Who are some artists you’re influenced by?
There’s so many artists that I really love. I love Francis Bacon. I love the photographer Irving Penn. I would say my favorite artist is Robert Rauschenberg. I love how raw and simple his work is. Miró and Picasso, of course.

You’ve photographed so many beautiful women in your life. What makes a woman beautiful?
It’s absolutely [what’s on] the inside. The spirit. People often ask me who the most beautiful girl I’ve photographed is. I could never answer that, because everyone’s got a different spirit. They give different things.

You’ve also traveled to some amazing locations for photo shoots. What’s the most memorable location you’ve been to?
It’s the same answer as with the girls. They’re always so different. To go from Vietnam to Iceland, to Iceland to Africa, from Africa to China, it provides such a different sort of inspiration. But I think it’s about where you are in life, what you’re doing and what inspires you. All these wonderful places give inspiration.

Can you talk about how you approach photography that you do for a client versus the work that you’re doing for yourself?
I think somebody gets hired because of what the client loves about their work. The shooting is always preordained. The client knows exactly what I’m going to deliver, and they know what they want. So it’s about being able to work really well together with people. With the art, it’s you, yourself, you just go for it. Which I also love.

Your project Culo, a series of photographs and collages of women’s butts from around the world, seemed like a coupling of this commercial and artistic work. How did that come together?
Actually, will.i.am did a video for Jimmy Iovine in Brazil, and he came back with all these shots that were just from the waist down. It was really Jimmy’s idea to do a coffee table book. We worked on a butt book for, like, two years.

So two years circling the world looking for great butts.
Yeah, circling the globe, taking photos of butts. It was a really fun project. Incorporating the art with the book was super enjoyable. We shot in Vietnam, we went to Milan, Brazil, Iceland, all over the place. I thought I knew what a great butt was. But after two years, I really learned a lot! They really vary so much, you know? When somebody takes their clothes off you don’t expect stuff like that.

Were any butts shot in Montauk?
Actually there are a lot of butts shot here in Montauk. I would just spontaneously do it, whenever there was a great girl around. I would just bring her to nature and shoot. Some proceeds of Culo went to a fund that helps Afghani and Iraqi vets.

Do you have any other causes you champion?
I just did a really great charity with Samuel Eto, the soccer player. And I did a lot with One by One with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s charity. Being able to give is a blessing. So whenever I can, I love to be involved.

What do you think of the current state of fashion photography, and about the industry using Instagram more often to get their work out?
I’m a big fan of all that stuff. For a long time I wasn’t a believer in it, but, it’s fun. It’s really great that people can see things so quickly. I’ve got to learn those hashtags.

The industry must be quite different today than when you got started. What would you tell an aspiring photographer, or even your son, about starting now?
Whatever you do in life, you just have to really love and have a passion for. Then everything else will happen in a natural way. I believe in doing things with what you love. It doesn’t matter how difficult it is, just hang in there and be blessed that you love something.


Photography by Nick Hudson