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, the closest beach, lines up with 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. I’ve found that if you wait long enough the oncoming traffic will part like the waters of Dead Sea for Moses. One summer the water was warm by local standards and mostly calm almost everyday. That was a great summer for swimming. I’ve always felt that when one is swimming in the ocean you’re part of the food chain. I 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 pond used to be 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. But you can access the beach right by the property via Peter’s Pond Lane. It’s the most rutted out, half paved roadway to any beach around here. It has potholes inside potholes. After a rain it’s one long mud puddle where you’d normally park. You might want to go somewhere else but if the water goes down and you can see enough room on the side of the road to park, try to get as far away from the puddles as you can. 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 and as bad as the road is people still want to go there because once you carry your belongings down to this beautiful wide beach, life is good. 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 a year 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 I think, 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 would be almost impossible to work every day on the painting so it took about a year to complete. And 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?” A. When it’s sold.