To experience the art of Dick Stone at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons is to experience many stories. There is the story of how, as a boy, Stone sold the Saturday Evening Post in a canvas bag during the height of the Depression and fell in love with Norman Rockwell’s work. There is the story of how Stone became the youngest student, at age 12, in the Art Students League in New York. There is the story of Stone becoming an iconic commercial illustrator and later a filmmaker. And of course, there’s the story of the devastating fire in Sag Harbor that destroyed much of Stone’s work and ultimately inspired him to paint even more.
Stone, at age 95, continues to paint in acrylics in his home in the Hamptons. Her daughter, Julie Stone, chose 20 of her acrylic works for display at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons as part of a socially remote gallery experience that she hopes will show people the remarkable skill. of his father with a brush.
“I’ve been painting for what, 100 years? Stone jokes. “Julie has been watching me work for years…. After the 1994 fire, most of my stuff that I really liked, I’ve done since. I didn’t show for various reasons. It seemed like a good idea. This is really how it happened.
For some, losing all their work in a fire would kill their resolve, but for Stone, it was inspiring. “The fire has been one of the best things that has happened to me in a creative way,” he says. “As much as it was traumatic when it happened, it also helped conceptually.”
That resolve has been with Stone her entire life, notes Julie. “It wasn’t like he was born into a family of artists,” she says. “It was this prodigy from New Jersey who went to Yale, and he went right into the Art Students League illustration. But it’s not like he’s sitting around an old Connecticut estate with generations of artists who know what to do.
Stone went on to become an illustrator, commercial producer, and Clio Award-winning director. He shot commercials with Gerald Ford, Burt Lancaster, Joan Rivers, Reggie Jackson and Henry Fonda, who became one of Stone’s good friends. “It’s an interesting study on the personalities when you get a celebrity,” Stone recalls. While Stone wasn’t the star-struck type, he quickly learned to adapt to larger-than-life Hollywood figures. When he shot Lancaster and called out “action,” Lancaster stopped filming. ” He scared me ! He said, ‘Just a minute! Nobody tells me to act! ‘ He was a really tough guy. Conversely, Stone remembers Stewart going to the studio and being gracious. Stone describes Fonda as someone he has become “a quick friend” with and they have traded designs over the years.
Throughout his long and successful career, Stone continued to paint. “I tried to keep my painter’s brain alive,” he says. “During this time, you have a lot of days where you don’t do anything, so I was painting. It was ideal for me because deep down I wanted to be a supposedly good artist, no matter what.
Julie, also in advertising, still meets people who know her father’s work and is constantly in awe of the things she learns and the stories she hears. But through all the stories and all the work, one thing has remained constant. “Art was the first in her life and always has been,” she says. “It has always been integrated. “
See Dick Stone’s work at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons through January 7.