Wet Paint in the Wild: Art Dealer Dakota Sica Burns Gallery Checklists and Goes Surfing on the East End

Sica takes us on a tour of his summer life out on Long Island.

Dakota Sica.

Welcome to Wet Paint in the Wild, an extension of Annie Armstrong’s gossip column wherein she gives art-world insiders a disposable camera so they can give us a peek into their corner of the madcap industry.

It’s summertime, which means that as far as New York is concerned, pretty much all the good parties have been out East. And because no one has yet offered to buy me a house out on Long Island (it’s okay, I’ll wait), I defer to my sources to keep me up to speed with what’s going on. One such person is Dakota Sica, director at Leslie Feely, which, conveniently for us, has a location in East Hampton. Take it away, Dakota!

Just picked up my disposable camera and headed to the beach to test it out. (Click and crank the reel to load the next shot.) The nostalgia is satisfying: I pause and ask myself, am I missing my calling as a photographer?

My friends Masha, an art dealer, and Wenyi, a tech entrepreneur, are staying with me for the week. I asked them to meet me at the beach for a bonfire to kick off their stay. I learned Wenyi really likes fire—maybe a little too much, judging from her excitement here. I get reprimanded by Masha for using old gallery checklists to get the fire started. I didn’t realize one was from the gallery she works at (sorry Masha!). Let’s call it upcycling.

The fire burns, the sun sets, and the strawberry super moon surprised us all.

It’s morning, so that means surf. I head out to Montauk to catch some waves before going into the gallery. Seems like the whole art world surfs. This is me moments before making my own Raymond Pettibon homage.

I cleaned up from the surf and sun and headed to the gallery to catch up with Jean Marc. He gave me the run down about who came in and who liked what. Jean Marc is truly a character, and he gets the award for best hair in the Hamptons.

I leave the gallery early to see Edsel Williams, the proprietor of the Fireplace Project. His space was formerly a mechanics garage, and it always has great works by emerging artists.

Edsel let me go upstairs to poke around. I think the best things are always in the back rooms.

My phone starts ringing (which is surprising, because I never have service out here), and it’s my friends Sofya, an art advisor, and Misha, a digital artist, inviting me over to their place for dinner. They are so charming!

After dinner, I gifted Sofya a shirt I was saving for her upcoming birthday. The story is, I took Sofya out surfing for the first time, and now she’s hooked. This shirt symbolized my words of encouragement—“SOFYA PADDLE!”—just before she caught her first big wave.

It’s morning again—so that means surf! Everyone packs into the car and we head to Ditch Plains.

Later, I got a text from my client and friend Robert. I told him I was in Montauk and still in my bathing suit, but that he should meet me at the Ranch. If you haven’t been the Ranch, it is one of the most special places on the East End. We meet up with gallerist Max Levai for a personal tour of his incredible Frank Stella show.

I really admire these wildly exciting Stella sculptures, especially against the backdrop of a literal working Ranch. I cannot remember the last time I encountered art in such an inspired way. Picture a mini Storm King, add horses, a touch of sea breeze, and voilà!

The sun starts to go down and, since it’s Monday and dead in town, I head over to the Surf Lodge to see Kate Usher play. This is most likely the only day of the week I would go here, since it’s mainly locals and not crowded.

Admiring the Danielle Orchard installations throughout the Surf Lodge. Regretting not buying a painting from Jack Hanley’s show when I had the chance. I order another mezcal and sigh deeply.

It’s morning again. I begrudgingly skip the surf to go to Southampton. Sotheby’s invited me for a private tour of the Peter Marino Foundation, given by none other than Peter Marino himself. No photos were allowed, and when I asked Peter if he would let me take one for Wet Paint, he replied: “If you take a photo of me, it would probably break your camera” This gave us both a good laugh. I settled for this striking photo of Sofya outside

Since I was in town, I stopped by the galleries. Sally and Mary-Grace defy all gallery stereotypes of mean, cold gallery staff. We chatted a while about art, the market, and toured the beautiful Hauser and Wirth in Southampton. They were a delight.

I hopped back in the car to head to Springs and caught the dwindling summer light. ‘Til next time, Wet Paint…

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