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Sixty-Something: World Renowned Hamptons Artist Touches My Life

T.J. Clemente

The author's wife with one of Howard Kanovitz's works at Grey Gardens. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

Art is a broad term, but for me, a painting can go beyond that as it opens up and brings light to the furthest corners of my mind and soul while somehow touching my heart.

There are so many wonderful and talented artists on the East End of Long Island - it is astonishing. For seventeen years, I have been assigned gallery openings, exhibits and shows. I have interviewed photographers, writers, actors, producers, directors, and folks who make stuff from wood and other exotic materials. However, my favorite artist is the painter. I just love to get lost in the details of an artist's painting and study and compare their collections to see the breadth of their work.

Although I have always loved my trips to the Met, the Louvre, MOMA, and The National Museum in D.C., I also love going to the summer shows at Ashawagh Hall in The Springs of East Hampton Town. I own a few paintings that were shown there.

However, this story originates in my coverage of a 2009 political event and meeting an individual who wanted to have dinner with me and my lovely wife. We were to meet him at his friend Carolyn Oldenbusch's home in Sag Harbor for drinks, we would then go to the restaurant in one car.

As if a scene from some movie, after arriving at Carolyn's home, my wife Cindi - who has many talents, including winning "The Long Island Press Best Psychic" not once, but for five years in a row - looked at a wall of paintings in Carolyn's home and inquired if they were by the same artist. Cindi then said, "I know this work."

The host, Carolyn, said, "Yes, they are all by Howard Kanovitz, her late husband." Howard Kanovitz's art is on display at the Met, The Louvre, The Hermitage, and also locally at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill. Many of his scenes are Hamptons themed with even some Gardiner's Bay scenes.

Cindi then explained to Carolyn in our newly purchased home (2010) we have an authentic autographed small photo of his work. She smiled.

What makes this story go to the next level is what happened perhaps a year later. Carolyn, along with her friend, requested out of the blue that they wanted to sail with me.

When the sailboat was just out of 3 Mile Harbor, she requested we motor to a specific spot, of course I said yes. When we arrived, she pulled a bag from her purse, it had an urn, an urn that contained Howard Kanovitz's ashes. She then requested my permission to release the ashes, saying this is where he wanted them released. I said I was honored.

The final part of this story is after these events, I finally married Cindi on her birthday: April 22, 2012. We received many gifts including four paintings by four different Hamptons artists. We also received a very authentic numbered print of a Howard Kanovitz art piece, along with a lovely note from Carolyn Oldenbusch. We hung it framed high on our kitchen's cathedral ceiling next to another Kanovitz print of Gardiner's Bay not far from where his ashes were set free.

The clincher to the story is back in the spring of 2017, I was able to do a wonderful story about the then for sale Grey Gardens for Hamptons.com. During the private tour by renowned Hamptons real estate agent Michael Schultz, Cindi, who came along to see the historic home, noticed something on a wall. The Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn owned Grey Gardens actually had a Howard Kanovitz print in their kitchen, the same one we also have hanging next to Carolyn's gift print! Neither my wife or myself ever met Howard Kanovitz, but his legacy has touched our lives.

Note: Carolyn Oldenbusch is the Curator of the Howard Kanovitz Foundation, Sag Harbor, N.Y.

Added: August 24, 2020, 10:25 am
Appeared In: community >> sixty-something