In 1969, Larry Rivers sculpted a pair of “Legs” for a suburban shopping mall on Long Island. Eventually, the sculpture ended up at his Southampton home.
He later sculpted a smaller pair for a private collector. That pair also ended up here on the East End.
Since 2008, the shorter 16-foot-and-1-inch high black-and-white sculpture, owned by Ruth Vered and Janet Lehr, has been thought of as being in a kind of gray area, according to Sag Harbor Village officials, who declared that the artwork was breaking building and zoning codes. As a result, the controversial sculpture, called “a landmark” by some and “an eyesore” by others, has stepped on its fair share of toes.
This coming week, approximately 10,000 people will get their opportunity to decide, as they walk through the spread “Legs,” which will straddle the entrance to the sixth annual ArtHamptons, which runs from Thursday, July 11, through Sunday, July 14, at the Sculpture Fields of Nova’s Ark in Bridgehampton.
“Hamptons Bohemia” will be the theme of this year’s show, which will be honoring what would have been Mr. Rivers’s 90th birthday with a “40 Feet of Fashion” exhibition of his work, as well as showing the “Legs.”
“Showing the Larry River sculpture right at the entrance is impressive right from the beginning,” said ArtHamptons Founder Rick Friedman.
Additionally, three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner and three-time Tony Award-winner, Edward Albee, will be honored as the Arts Patron of the Year for his philanthropic support of the arts. The National Medal of the Arts winner has used his eponymous foundation to fund The Barn in Montauk and its creative residencies as well as being a longtime patron of ArtHamptons. Also, artist Billy Sullivan will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award and photographer Saul Leiter will be honored as the Distinguished Photographer.
During the giant four-day fair, over 70 galleries from across the globe will be showcasing 2,500 pieces of modern and contemporary works of art. A new 50,000-square-foot pavilion has been constructed for the event, and everything from the sculptures on display (some are three-stories high) to the 95-acre agricultural reserve in Bridgehampton hosting the fair is massive, according to Mr. Friedman.
“As far as our building, structurally, we have upped the game from last year to a museum like pavilion with a 40-foot ceiling,” he reported. “It’s really quite impressive.”
Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery of Sag Harbor and Mark Borghi Fine Art of Bridgehampton are among the local galleries presenting.
This will be the fourth year that Mr. Demato participates. And it will be the first time that most of the artists he represents will be available to answer questions about their work directly with patrons.
“We are going to show about nine artists, and are flying seven people in from in and out of the country,” Mr. Demato said. “Basically the concept is we want the clients to have the opportunity to interact and ask artists questions.”
The artists will be available for question and answer sessions on Friday and Saturday. The conversations will be recorded and put on the gallery website, rjdgallery.com, so anyone interested who can’t make it can learn about the passions and origins of the work, according to Mr. Demato.
Mr. Borghi has been involved with ArtHamptons since the beginning, he said. This year, he will be presenting two artists, Carole Feuerman and Tom Dash, who will also be present to discuss their works with prospective buyers.
Ms. Feuerman creates realistic sculptures. Mr. Dash spent seven years as lead assistant and fabricator for Richard Prince. “ArtHamptons” will be his first solo exhibition.
Mr. Borghi said that even though his gallery is well established, reaching new art lovers is not only critical, it’s also guaranteed at this festival.
“Even though we’ve been out here for 10 years it’s important to go to an event like this because of the amount of people who go to it,” he said. “It’s always a great event, you meet a lot of people, it’s exciting, it’s great.”
The fair this year will give a nod to the “Hamptons Bohemia” art scene of the 1950s to 1970s, and will also offer a glance into the contemporary “Bohemia” happening now in Bushwick, Brooklyn with a “Bushwick Bohemia” exhibition. Curators Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly of Schoolhouse Projects will present a stable of up-and-coming artists’ works, including naturalistic paintings in sculptural frames by Sarah Bereza and decorative, routed plywood sheets by Brent Owens.
In addition to the artwork, ArtHamptons has partnered with the Southampton Hunt and Polo Club for a polo exhibition, which will be held on Saturday, July 13, from noon to 1 p.m.
“It’s a pasture and field as far as the eye can see, it’s a very special place, the environment lends itself to being there,” said Mr. Friedman.
ArtHamptons will be held from Thursday, July 11, through Sunday, July 14, at Sculpture Fields of Nova’s Ark in Bridgehampton. A special private tour for black card holders ($250 admission) will be held on Thursday, July 11, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., followed by a VIP preview opener ($125 admission) from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday hours for July 12 and 13 are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday hours are from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Day passes are $25 each. For more information, visit arthamptons.com.