Artist Spotlight: William Quigley

Contemporary Artist Tackling the “Tiki” at The Montauk Beach House

Anyone who’s been to The Montauk Beach House, or even just seen posts scrolling through Instagram, is familiar with the large “Mystical Tiki” (or MOAI as it’s called traditionally) sculpture planted outside. While it acts as a beacon for Saturday pool party revelers, this month its purpose is more artful – it will serve as a blank canvas for local painter William Quigley.

Quigley’s work is collected by such high-profile clients as Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, athletes like Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Jordan, Eminem, Woody Allen and Kevin Spacey. An East Hampton resident, he’s been a continuous supporter of the local community and this new exhibition will only serve to further familiarize the highly celebrated contemporary artist with more of his neighbors.

Finding some time in between painting, William caught us up on how he teamed up with The MBH this summer, the excitement of painting the local landmark, and how being an artist on the East End was something he’s thought of since his college days.

If you could summarize your work in three words what would they be?

Calculated, consuming, personal.

How’d you come to team up with The Montauk Beach House for this exhibition and what will be on view?

I met Larry and Jodi at Mike’s Seafood in Amagansett five years ago. I knew they were gems then. We started talking a lot as friends [but I] never really knew he owned the Beach House until a random visit. I met Walt [Lindveld, the creative director at The Montauk Beach House] the same year. Brilliant both of them. I was excited to slowly watch the progression of the Beach House grow in sophistication and class, all while providing a unique experience for everyone involved.

Having Walt and Larry ask me to do something related to my past Boxer Skrapper Paintings, made between 1999-2008, I was flattered by the huge compliment.

I’m fortunate to have a great team behind my work now with Karl Hutter Gallery in LA. We were lucky to be able to ponder quite a few offers this last year, although would love to embrace them all, we made this show at The Beach House a priority. It’s exciting to do something in Montauk. I think the whole world is now aware of what’s going on here.

If you were commissioned for a piece that represents the surf town of Montauk, where would you start?

I think I was commissioned to make a piece that strongly represents Montauk. The MOAI “Mystical Tiki” is such an icon in this town, I kind of can’t believe they asked me to paint it. I felt this way when I was asked to paint President Clinton in 1998. Shocked, yet want to do a good job.

You’re one of the most sought-after portrait painters in the contemporary art market and have featured iconic figures such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Jordan, Bob Dylan, Audrey Hepburn and Johnny Cash. How do you choose a subject and do you have any stories of them seeing your work?

I usually see, listen or talk with someone who inspires me to want to create a portrait. Sometimes I meet the actual person. Other times it’s a speech, song, documentary. A lot of times I like the personal side of a public personality. For instance, when I found out about Christy Turlington’s foundation “Every Mother Counts” and that she lives out here, is a great mother and rides horses – I really wanted to paint her.

Most of the people I paint either ask me to paint them, or buy the work after I make it. The paintings are kind of a performance piece with the subject many times acquiring it through their family, agents, their production companies, teams they play for or reps who work with them.

You’ve lived and worked in East Hampton for many years, as did Jackson Pollock and William de Kooning. Do you feel any connection to them as an artist who lives out East?

I showed with de Kooning in LA 1989 in a group show. Pollock, besides Charles Schultz, Norman Rockwell and Picasso, hit me so hard in college. I read and inhaled everything and anything Pollock. There were two places I always wanted to be painting after living in LA for 14 years: SoHo, and the East End. I guess I’m doing want I wanted. I Feel blessed.

The show opens at The Montauk Beach House on Friday, July 14.