Surf Shacks 083

Tripoli Patterson
Wainscott, NY

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Tripoli “Trip” Patterson is a local surf standout on the East End of Long Island. While most professional shortboarders these days tend to have a sort of “one-dimensional” personality that is primarily focused on surf-centric pursuits, Trip is quite the exception. Born and raised surrounded by artists his whole life, creativity and an eye for good aesthetics are in his blood. Since starting the Tripoli Gallery Southampton in 2009, he has hosted visionaries such as Julian Schnabel, Ashley Bickerton, Michael Halsband, Harmony Korine, Roy Lichtenstein, and Ryan McGinley, to name a few. As you might expect, Trip definitely brings his work home. His pad in Wainscott is cozy and filled with art by friends and cohorts he has collected over the years.

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Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I was born in Sag Harbor, New York. Growing up I spent a lot of time in Bali and went to BIS (Bali International School) with surfers like Marlon Gerber and Lee Wilson, then did homeschool with Lorca Lueras and Sean Thomas. I also lived in Ragland, New Zealand, for a couple years where I learned to go left and was blown away by all the unknown rippers. I spent a lot of time on the North Shore of O’ahu where the late Rory Parker took me under his wing and introduced me to all the locals. When I was a super grom, like 12, I stayed with Jamie O’Brien—pretty sure it was summertime around the USA Championships at Ala Moana Bowls. I was always traveling though on smaller, shorter trips as well throughout that whole time growing up. My mom was a big surfer who was the impetus for all the travel. She ran the ESA [Eastern Surfing Association] for the New York district for about five years and had a big impact on the New York surf community. She organized the first contest that Unsound Surf did and grew this district from something like 90 kids to over 400 during her tenure as director.

How did you first get into the art world?

Being born in this area, I’ve always been amongst it. My father was a pre-Columbian art dealer; he met my mother through a very well-known artist. My mom has been coming out to the Hamptons since the 1950s and this has always been an area with a lot of artists, whether it be writers, painters, sculptors, poets, visionaries, et cetera. So just growing up in this environment had a big influence on me. As a kid you’re like a sponge, just absorbing what is all around, what you are connected to, and the people who your parents are friends with. My brother and sister are both artists themselves; my grandmother was a painter. I’ve just been lucky enough to be submerged in it all throughout my life.

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Are you an artist yourself as well as a curator?

No, I’m an art dealer. My interest has always been on creating platforms for artists to show their work. My role is really to be on the business side so artists don’t have to talk about their work from a monetary perspective. I’m more of the in-between role for the artist and the buyer. I help establish specific markets for the artists’ work so their energy and focus can be based in the work itself. At the same time, I also have to work with people and make them feel comfortable buying art so that they know that the inherent value and what they are spending are being maintained and appreciated. It’s a balance of both roles. My priority is always the artist though.

How did you first start your own gallery?

I did my first art show when I was 20 years old. I was already promoting, having parties, and bringing like-minded young people together at that time in my life. Out east, people were always complaining that there was nothing going on in the off season, but I always knew that it was just because no one was making anything happen or putting fun things together. A lot of my good friends were artists, so it just sort of naturally came together. That first show I put together with my good friend James Cruickshank, and it opened Thanksgiving weekend at a new local gallery—a group show that featured four artists I had met from all different walks of life. It went really well, so the next year I did it again, but threw it at my own space, which was a barn I rented in Bridgehampton, and it all snowballed from there. I started taking it a little bit more seriously after I hosted a solo show for a Puerto Rican artist named Félix Bonilla Gerena who I brought up here. To see how having a show in the Hamptons really affected his career and what it meant to him personally was really inspiring for me. Shortly after that experience, I opened my own gallery.

What have been some of the biggest challenges in you having your own gallery?

Delegating is a big one. Understanding that you physically can’t do everything. Letting go of responsibilities after doing things myself for so long has been difficult. Paying for everything is also a constant challenge, and not letting the money get in the way of organic growth. We often get in our own way, letting things like monetary restrictions dictate how we operate and work toward our goals. Once you have a vision, the universe kind of facilitates that reality to happen.

On the flipside, what have been your greatest joys and successes so far?

Just seeing that happiness and joy in an artist’s eyes after we do a big show together. Knowing that I helped them achieve their vision is super rewarding.

What are your favorite parts about the area in which you live?

Definitely nature. From the ocean to the woods, to the bays—clear skies. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by so much natural beauty out here. But ultimately it’s home. It’s where I’m from, it’s where I was born, and there is a lot of pride I feel for this place. There is deep, rich history here. This is sacred Native American land and there is definitely still some of that magic here today. It’s so important that we remember them and re- spect and give back to the Shinnecock Reservation and its people. There is enormous art history in this area and I want to add to it and be a part of that history. Furthermore, on a perfect day, you can have an art show and catch some world-class waves! I’m five minutes from the beach here, so that is a huge bonus for me.

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Discover more creative surfers’ homes in our books; Surf Shacks® Vol. 1, and Vol. 2 available now!


Matt Titone

A goofy-footed graphic designer who hails from the first state, Delaware. After attending Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL then graduating from SCAD in Savannah, GA with a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration, Matt moved to NYC and found work as a freelance designer and art director. In 2006 he moved west to Venice, CA where he co-founded ITAL/C Studio and now resides a bit further north in Oxnard.

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