Lenny is happy in the Hamptons.
“He’s in dog paradise,” says Lesley Vance, a Los Angeles artist and owner of the Chihuahua-terrier mix. “In L.A. I have to worry about bobcats and coyotes.”
Vance has relocated for the summer to Sagaponack on Long Island as the FLAG Art Foundation’s first artist in residence. She and her artist husband, Ricky Swallow, occupy a guest house belonging to FLAG’s founder, Glenn Fuhrman, co-managing partner and co-founder of MSD Capital LP, which manages Michael Dell’s money.
Dressed in navy shorts and striped tank top, Vance is sitting on the farmhouse’s porch, where the day starts with granola and berries and a book. By 10 a.m., she is inside, working on watercolors. There’s a studio on the first floor and living quarters on the second.
She leaves the doors open so she can look out on the farmland surrounding the house.
“That’s the best part of the studio for sure,” Vance says.
In the afternoon, deer and geese come to the fields. That and the flatness of the landscape remind Vance of Wisconsin, where she grew up.
“It gives me a strange feeling of home,” she says. “Even the humidity is comforting.”
Vance used to make representational still lifes until she realized “it was getting in the way of what I was actually interested in: the deep red of a poppy, or the way light hits the side of the rock and the shadow it creates on the fabric.”
Her shift in approach has helped her career. The 2010 Whitney Biennial showed four of her paintings, and she is having a solo exhibition at David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles, through Aug. 13.
At her desk, Vance is working with a palette of blues, pinks and greens. “The setting of this place will create the base for my next body of work,” she says.
Besides painting, her routine includes trips to a nearby farm stand and tennis with her husband on the backyard court. At five, the couple goes to the beach, where Vance collects shells.
She observes “the hazy blue light that I thought only existed in movies or novels. It’s the way the color of the sea and the sky and the sand, they vibrate together.”
They take turns making dinner.
“Apparently there’s night life here, but that’s not us,” Vance says. “Last night we watched the pilot for ‘Friday Night Lights.’”
One exception: The Fuhrmans took them to Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center benefit, attended by more than 1,000 members of the art set.
“It was strange because I hadn’t socialized in weeks,” Vance says.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)