It’s about two miles to the beach from my studio, maybe a little more. In the summer I drive if I can get there in the morning before Town Line Road and the closest beach is lined up with tourists and parked cars. You can only park on one side of the street and that’s by permit only. Sometimes I ride my bike down, take a walk and a swim. The only problem with getting to the beach by bike is that I have to cross Hwy 27, a challenge because of the constant summer traffic. It’s challenging enough in a car but pedestrians and cyclist beware. I’ve found that if you wait long enough the oncoming traffic will part like the waters of Dead Sea for Moses. One recent summer the water was warm by local standards and calm almost everyday. A great summer for swimming. It’s important to be aware when one is swimming in the ocean you’re part of the food chain. Try not to think about it. It doesn’t stop me from going in but I occasionally swim with a buddy, just in case.
Maybe because of it’s location Town Line isn’t too crowded. Gibson Beach and Sagg Main Beach to the west are popular. Parking at Gibson is like Town Line, you have to get there early. Sagg Main has a parking lot and you can pay per day to park there or by permit. They also have a shower and bathrooms. There’s a beach between Town Line and Gibson called Peter’s Pond, named that because there used to be a pond by the ocean there. The pond dried up years ago. Ira Rennert bought the property where the now dried up pond was and built a 73,000 sq.’ house, THE largest house on the East End, that by the way is only a fraction, 1/10 the size of the Palace of Versailles. Still who needs a house this big. Obviously somebody with lavish sums of money to spend. But you can access the beach right by Rennert’s property via Peter’s Pond Lane. It is the most rutted out, half paved roadway to any beach around here. I think Rennet pays the town to keep it that way, to discourage people from using it. After a a good soaker it’s worse than a mud bog track. When the water recedes enough you can see a small strip of dry land on the edge of the road to park. The daredevils and stunt drivers come out. I wouldn’t advise parking there at all, especially if you leave the top down on your convertible. Some local in a pick up truck might accidentally cover it with mud as they 4W down the road looking for their own parking place. You need a permit to park there also and as bad as the road is, even in good weather, people still want to go there because once you carry your belongings down to this beautiful wide beach, life is good, until you need a tow truck. Peter’s Pond, is my second closest and second favorite beach. Or as my wife would call it “Left Left”, as a beach destination. There’s Sagg Main, Gibson is Left and Peter’s Pond is Left Left.
In the early 90s I did a painting titled Peters Pond. I’d go there every day I could and watch the surf roll up over the sand and out again, trying to focus on details like how the wave washes up on the beach and flows out again leaving those tiny bubbles coming up from the sand. After watching for an hour I could take that picture etched in my memory home and try to remember or visualize a few minutes of what I’d been watching. I spent months on this painting, trying to catch what I saw each day, then coming back to the studio and working out the ideas in my head. It was ever changing which I think added to my perspective of what the place really looks like. At different times of the day the surf conditions or light change. In the winter, more so than in the summer, there can be a channel of water that runs down the beach, caused by the storm surge and waves washing over the beach and flowing out sometimes a hundred yards down the beach. It was almost impossible to work every day on the painting so it took about a year to complete. It’s a large painting in three panel totaling 6’h x 21’6”w. In 2013 I showed this painting at The Parrish Art Museum. The curator Alicia Longwell chose this piece for the show and in between that time and the opening I repainted it entirely from corner to corner in three weeks. I don’t think they noticed. I didn’t change the composition but I tried to work out some things that I hadn’t finished years earlier. Did I get it right? Someone once asked me, “How can you tell when a painting is finished?” When it’s sold!