You are currently viewing All Roads Lead to East Hampton For Artist Grant Haffner

All Roads Lead to East Hampton For Artist Grant Haffner

If you’re heading out East this Summer you might want to swing by Roman Fine Art to check out Mohawk Trail, an exhibition of new paintings from artist Grant Haffner. His new body of work utilizes roadways of the Mohawk Trail Region of Massachusetts and the Hamptons to explore memory, transition, movement and the biological relationship between man and nature.


We caught up with Grant to chat about his first solo show in 11 years, his creative process and favorite art spot in the Hamptons.


AZ: How did you get your start as an artist? Is this what you’ve always wanted to do?

GH: As long as I can remember becoming an artist is what I have always wanted to do.  It was something that I seemed naturally good at since a very young age.



AZ: Is there a painting of yours that is especially meaningful to you?
GH: There is a small 12 x 12 inch painting a few years ago I did titled “Good Night Long Beach.”  It has so much emotion in its brush strokes, and the way the colors play off of each other is just perfect.  It is that moment after the sun has finally gone under the horizon and the world around you starts to get dark.



AZ: You grew up in East Hampton. Where is your favorite place to see art in the Hamptons?
GH: There have been so many awesome galleries and openings over the years, it’s heartwarming to look back and remember them all.  Roman Fine Art has some incredible artists in the lineup and I would definitely check them out this season.



AZ: Do you have an artist you admire?
GH: Wayne Thiebaud. He is hands down my favorite artist.  His art pushed me to paint, particularly his San Francisco landscape paintings.  I had an epiphany in the presence of one of Wayne Thiebaud’s landscape paintings that helped develop my style.



AZ: What can viewers expect at your newest exhibition, “Mohawk Trail,” at Roman Fine Art?
GH: This body of work contains landscapes from my time spent on the East End as well as ones from my recent time spent in Western Massachusetts.  It showcases some larger paintings and also hints at some of my processes. Mohawk Trail itself signifies my departure from the island into the hills and shows my first attempts at interpreting this new landscape.



AZ: You’ve been painting the roads of the Hamptons for much of your life. What sparked the move to Massachusetts after all those years?
GH: It revolved mostly around family and quality of life. During my time in the Hamptons  I met and married my dream girl, and now we have two amazing children.  We couldn’t afford the cost of living in the Hamptons anymore.  It was also about the “speed” of the area and the people around us.  I missed the slow, carefree attitude of my childhood and I wanted that for my kids.  We landed in a beautiful, verdant, agricultural area rife with arts of all kinds and a lush food scene.  Our new community has embraced us with warmth and intelligent conversation, kindness and a neighborly-ness that reminds me of what it used to by like, of my upbringing in Springs, East Hampton.



AZ: What challenges did you face as you tackled this new environment?
GH: Everything that comes along with relocating; learning the area, settling my family, finding a studio to paint in, finding new roads to be inspired by, all of that took longer than expected.  As luck would have it, I found a great studio space in the Historic Beaver Mill in North Adams and the Mohawk Trail became my daily commute.  The twists and turns as you cut through the Berkshire mountains are breathtaking and so different from the flat roads of the East End, Long Island.  The challenge now is to capture these winding roads, new heights and changes in elevation in my paintings.



AZ: What compelled you to start painting roads in the first place?
GH: The open endless road has always fascinated me. My romance for long road trips; my secret wanderlust; my respect for Jack Kerouac and his open road, the influence of American car culture, the many years that I spent behind the wheel driving a landscape rig for work, the feeling of freedom that the open endless road provides, my desire to drive off into the sunset, as well as my overwhelming need to capture and honor the time that I have spent here all contributed to my vision.



AZ: Your paintings are often based on photographs you’ve taken yourself. Can you expand upon your creative process further?
GH: The process for each painting is slightly different depending on whether I want to end up with a vivid sunset, a soft sky, or what mood I want to convey.  Intense panel preparation is important to me, I want my wood panels to feel like I am painting on a piece of paper before I start them.  I work from photographs and typically start with a solid drawing before adding lots of layers of acrylic paint to build my images.  Having enough time to hold the vision in your mind and execute the painting is also a very important part of the process.


When I choose my locations I try to pick scenes that seem iconic, roads that I feel people can recognize, remember or relate to.  The colors I choose set the mood and tone, as well as help to create depth, light, and shadow within the painting. The use of line and ultimately telephone poles give the painting perspective and at the same time kind of ground the painting from abstraction, placing it in an actual location within reality. The majority of my paintings and colors within are reactions to experiencing these roads and intersections during sunsets and nights.



AZ: Last song you listened to?
GH: How about the last album that I obsessed over is Bon Iver 22, A Million.  All the songs on there are great, one of my favorites is 21 MOON WATER.


Mohawk Trail is on view at Roman Fine Art, 66 Park Place, East Hampton, NY, May 26 – June 25, 2017


images // courtesy of Roman Fine Art and artist