Eric Dever

Warhol Montauk Project

Eric Dever, Moorlands
Oil on canvas, 30 x 36 inches, 2020
Heckscher Art Museum, Huntington, New York

9 September 2020, Montauk Preserve


Marianela Jimenez - Center for Conservation, The Nature Conservancy

Eric Dever - Andy Warhol Project Artist

Congratulations on your selection as an Andy Warhol Project Artist at the preserve in Montauk. How do you propose painting or addressing the site in your work?

In advance of my visit to the preserve, I had been thinking about what to bring, supplies including paint, canvas or linen, and how to prepare surfaces on site which I would complete in my studio—involving imprinting and sampled surfaces.

Now that you have visited the preserve, have your plans changed?

Yes they have. I’d like to address some of the sensations I felt. Walking beneath the overhead bayberry bushes and finding an opening in the trail, to a clearing, mowed lawn paths through the moorland—finally catching a glimpse of the ocean and the increasing roar of surf. Walking to the edge of the bluff and down to the boulders and smoothed stones, a loud gurgling sound and rapid draining occurs, as the surf retreats revealing temporary tidal pools. I noticed how the beach was both very warm, and cooled by breeze at the same time.

What are the some of the landscape elements that interest you most on the beach?

Resting on a large piece of driftwood, a tree trunk, I watched as a figure moved around the corner of the bluff to the east where it meets the ocean. In the opposite direction to the west, past the Warhol House, originally built by the Church family and named Eothen, are larger cliffs which appear in afternoon shadow across a brightly hued bay.

How is the preserve unique among other places you have visited?

The site is very peaceful, a little lonely even, except for a feeling of complete immersion with nature. It is unlike anywhere else I have visited on the South Fork of Long Island, though it reminds me of Northeastern Atlantic islands like Martha’s Vineyard.

In your application you spoke about the artists and writers who worked in Montauk—who most interests you?

It is no wonder artists and writers are attracted to this place. Dick Cavett lived off the cliffs just west of Eothen. Balcomb and Gertrude Greene, Charlotte Park and James Brooks built houses here and painted nearby. Edward Albee founded ‘The Barn,’ about a mile or 2 from town. Joseph Pintauro set much of his second novel, State of Grace, in Montauk, who also loved regularly driving from his house in Sag Harbor to Montauk Point—it was a kind of reset for him.

Why is Montauk and the Andy Warhol Preserve important to artists, painters like yourself?

Andy Warhol purchased the property with filmmaker Paul Morrissey, who recalled, It’s a place you can come to for nature, for a breeze, for beautiful scenic things.

17 November 2020, Water Mill studio 


Marianela Jimenez - Center for Conservation, The Nature Conservancy 

Eric Dever - Andy Warhol Project Artist 

Tell us about the progression of your paintings? 

The paintings correspond to the experience and sensations of moving through the trail and into the Montauk Moorlands, the bluff and down to the ocean. They also track shadow to brightness and changes in the palette during the late afternoon into evening.


Your palette is both bright and intense, how is this part of your experience? 

It is not entirely naturalistic, but more sensory. The site is both warm and cool in the late summer. The sun overhead as it descends into the west casts long shadows among the rocks, the atmosphere takes on a glowing quality, which is drained away as an evening sky canopy falls. 

You are painting with oil paint, but your work also has the quality of silkscreened prints, is this inspired by Andy Warhol? 

I particularly admire Warhol’s palette, how he worked with opposite colors creating vibration. I am also imprinting with paint pressed onto the surface, as well as using painting knives and brushes. The screen like quality of the paintings result in part from the heavy grade or coarseness of the canvas and linen I work with. 

How do you choose your canvas or linen supports? 

I prime both surfaces with a clear size, preserving the surface and it’s raw color, utilizing the negative space as a painting element. The lighter colored canvas has reflective qualities which are useful in a brighter painting. The linen seems to absorb color and shadow. 

The rocks and stones are very present at the site, we can also experience this shift in scale in your paintings, how is this important? 

The cliffs and bluffs in the distance are ever present but catch light and shadow differently, the same is true with the rocks. The tidal pools are like smaller versions of the landscape/seascape, at a certain point, the micro and macro became blurred into one, as well as the reflective qualities of the sky on small pools of water just as the ocean. The process of painting, learning, has by now become the journey itself. 

The titles point to a number of interests, tell us about them? 

I don’t want the titles to distract from the paintings. But, they help me to locate the work in time and space. For instance, L’Heure Bleue and The Gloaming refer to the deep blue hues of the long summer evenings in the Northeast, which is where I have been painting. I occasionally utilize Global Positioning System notations to locate the work and place names equally. Sometimes, a verse from poetry or a song I am listening to becomes a title in harmony with the painting. 

Eric, what do you value most about this experience at the preserve? 

The Warhol Montauk Project has provided a personal escape during this precarious time. I’ve learned to become more comfortable with the journey, the trail and what it reveals along the way, valuing feelings and sensations. This might be a way to approach a looming ‘Dark Winter,’ and certainly life itself. There is a promise fulfilled in every sunset and sunrise.