Artist Grant Haffner Gears Up For His MBH Residency
Grant Haffner’s ability to see the beauty in the ordinary world and translate it into a series of intensely-hued acrylic paintings has no doubt earned him the spot as the Montauk Beach House’s first artist-in-residence of the season. After being a denizen of Long Island’s East End for most of his life, Haffner’s interpretation of the landscape through paintbrush yields a powerful and whimsical image usually accompanied by his signature motif of power lines and utility poles. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’re beyond excited to see the landscape of Montauk come to life in a new way on his canvas this summer. We ask him about this signature style, his upcoming residency, and more below!
The eastern end of Long Island is known for its picturesque landscape and often serves as a source of inspiration for your work. What beauty do you find here that goes beyond just a nice view?
After spending many years here on the East End exploring the different bays and horse trails that are hidden all around, I have developed a deep emotional tie to the area. For me, experiencing the different seasons, watching the leaves change color only to return in the spring, being here when the town goes quiet and the roads are empty — that is what I enjoy the most.
The use of power lines and utility poles is prominently featured in your work. How does their presence enhance your aesthetic?
When I set out to paint the landscape my idea is to try and dissect the scene into just all lines of color and allow the lines to create the picture. The power lines seemed to fit the equation because they are essentially composed of lines themselves. They eventually became a great tool to create depth and location, a way to give the viewer a familiar place within my artwork.
Do you work with a soundtrack, and if so, what are you listening to these days?
Yes, and often. Listening to music when I am painting helps me set a mood in the studio and there are certain soundtracks I listen to endlessly. It is a great way to drum up an emotion inside you that you might want to incorporate into your artwork. Right now I am obsessed with the French House artist Kavinsky and I have his album “OutRun” playing on repeat.
You say you wish to travel cross-country so you can document your journey through paintings. There are obviously a multitude of routes to take—which would you take there and which would you take back?
I have seen a lot of Southern USA on cross country trips; visited a lot of great national parks and cities throughout. This time I would like to explore more of the Northern parts of USA, visit Yellowstone National Park and experience the big open skies of Montana. America is so vast and beautiful that it is impossible to see everything that it has to offer in just one or two trips. I was also a lot younger the last time I made a road trip and would like the opportunity to revisit and document the American road scene in a new light.
Are there any new landscapes you hope to encounter? Any particular dream destination in mind?
I have spent the majority of my life daydreaming here at sea level. Now I dream of living in the hills and viewing the landscape from the mountain top.
Besides the scenic glory of the East End, what do you enjoy doing/seeing here most?
My favorite thing to do is throw my mountain bike in the back of the truck and ride the dirt trails that cut through the area. My absolute favorite trails are in Hither Hills, there are some awesome downhills, old fire roads and you can ride the trails all the way to the beach.
Do you have any local favorite spots to eat/drink/shop in Montauk?
The Hideaway at Diamond Cove Marina. They have the best nachos and margaritas in town. It is my favorite spot to meet up with my friends, chill and grab a bite to eat. Look for the Chili Pepper sign when driving West Lake Drive.
What makes the Montauk Beach House an ideal location to showcase your work?
The Montauk Beach House is hands down the coolest place to stay when you are in the Hamptons. It is located right in the center of town, a block away from the ocean and within walking distance of everything hot. This location is very popular and I know that hundreds of new people will have the chance to discover my paintings. You can hear the ocean’s waves crashing and taste that cool salt air while you chill comfortably outside your room. I have also always adored the old Ronjo statue that stands outside the hotel, he is a local monument and it is great to see him alive again. I even have a painting of him on view at the Montauk Beach House.
What are you looking forward to most during your time as “artist in residence”?
The exposure The Montauk Beach House can provide my art is unreal. Right now Montauk is infused with so much life and excitement, I cannot think of a better place to be this summer. Because of the incredible amount of different people from all over who come here to visit the area and stay at The Montauk Beach House, I am so grateful to be their artist in residence.
Any upcoming exhibitions/events you’d like to share with our readers?
This summer I will be exhibiting with Damien A Roman Fine Art at Scope Basel International Art Fair June 14 – 19 and at Market Art + Design in Bridgehampton July 7 – 10. Keep your eyes open for all the different Art Fairs happening this summer. They are a good way for a young art collector to experience a lot of fresh new art. If you are really adventurous – seek out the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton, it is the hidden gem of the East End.
Learn more about Grant Haffner HERE.