INSIDE STORIES BEHIND AREA
REAL ESTATE DEALS
THE CREATIVE STREAK
Artists and artisans have been drawn to the natural beauty and ethereal light of the East End for centuries, so it's no surprise several of the houses on the market today were commissioned or retrofitted by some of America's most creative minds, from Walt Whitman and James Fenimore Cooper to Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock.
In particular, Shelter Island "has attracted creative people for generations: woodworkers, weavers and mapmakers," says Penelope Moore of the Corcoran Group. "In the present day, painters, poets, potters, designers and gardeners who create outdoor masterpieces are attracted to the island for inspiration."
Moore recently listed the Shelter Island home of author and famed Barneys New York window dresser Simon Doonan and his partner, "happy chic" potter and design guru Jonathan Adler, for $1.79 million. The mid-century modern A-frame cottage, originally owned by a Pan-Am pilot in the 1960s, is surrounded by a lush, eclectic garden devised by Buttercup Design Group. Replete with Himalayan bananas, blood grass and bamboo, the grounds reflect the lighthearted mix of color, texture and humor used throughout the home's interior.
"Being from a family of artists, I often like to see what makes a home special to its owners when listing it or showing it for sale," says Moore. "Frequently, it is a water or scenic natural view or an abundance of natural light. I try to understand what makes their home special to them, and translate it as best I can to prospective buyers, even if they are not in a creative field. Sometimes it's not the bricks and mortar that make a house special, but the nuances that come with nature that make it a home."
Judi Desiderio of Town & Country Real Estate, who recently entertained folk artist Ted Jeremenko at the open house of a Springs cottage, listed by her firm for $1.69 million, says artists look for workspace and a personal connection to the property when searching for a home or live-work studio in the Hamptons. "Creative people, such as artists, have a commonality in a true appreciation of nature in all its forms," she says. "What better place to appreciate nature than here on the East End, with some of the most spectacular waterways, and natural light second to none."
Desiderio says Jeremenko was originally attracted to the unique, windowless façade of the 2,500-square-foot traditional cottage and had been admiring it for years. "The Springs has been a hotbed for artists for decades, including Jackson Pollock and Ralph Carpentier."
Corcoran's Bryan Midlam says the number of art studios, gallery spaces and art openings are also a draw for contemporary Manhattan artists, many of whom are looking for homes on the South Fork with existing studio space. "The buildings departments have relatively strict rules on artists' studios, so if artists aren't working full time, they need to find something that pre-exists," he says. "I have seen everything out here from dark rooms to huge painting studios to 3,000-square-foot rooms dedicated solely to creating and displaying art."
Historic properties are also a draw. Midlam once heard a tale from a neighbor of the Pollock Krasner House & Study Center that his home had been the meeting place of some of the Springs' top artists in the 1970s. "The owner told me that when he purchased it, he wanted to clean it up, as all the walls were covered with random drawings and paintings," Midlam says. "He decided to paint the walls, subsequently painting over a wall that had a number of small paintings all over it, only to find out later that he most likely had covered up original sketches by Willem de Kooning!" —Aime Dunstan