When Rick Friedman says, “I have some really nice paintings,” he isn’t making an idle boast so much as an understatement. The founder of Hamptons Contemporary: The Home Design and Décor Show has over three hundred works by twentieth...

This past fall, Sag Harbor’s Grenning Gallery, known for showing the works of classically trained artists, hosted a trio of Russian plein-air painters to capture the essence of Sag Harbor on canvas. The event was led by Ben Fenske, one of the most prominent painters in gallerist Laura Grenning’s stable. Fenske, admired widely for his light yet vigorous brushwork, is an American who divides his time between Sag Harbor and Florence, and who studied at the Russian Academy of Art, among other prestigious institutes. Wanting to share Sag Harbor’s wonderful landscapes, he invited three of Russia’s most notable artists – all of whom had never visited the United States – to set up their easels around town.

The Light Stuff One thing that distinguishes the work of Shelter Island artist, Sylvia Hommert, is her use of unusual materials – from crystalline mineral salts to metal leaf. It’s all in her effort to capture the “liquid and fluid nature of light,” she says. “I am captivated by the silvery light glistening off alpine icicles and the lavender iridescence of sunset on water.” Drawn to materials that “enhance and illuminate,” she starts by laying down a reflective surface such as holographic paper or “pearly paua shell.” She then tops it with a substance such as beeswax or bee resin, whose malleable qualities allow her manipulation – sometimes even using a flame to burn them – to expose the reflective material underneath “that holds a hint of mystery that’s akin to uncovering buried treasure.” The substances also “help me create depth, texture and dimension.” The final step is painting on a layer of water-based pigments.

Storm Chaser

Former commercial artist Dalton Portella now earns his living as a fine artist, photographer, and sometime musician. After a successful career in advertising, the last decade creating movie posters for Miramax Films –from Pulp Fiction to Aviator – he moved to Montauk to “forsake the almighty dollar to concentrate on fine art.”