Around the Island

Artist in Residence: Finding his own way

Caleb Weiss’ art comes to life in his Congdon Road studio, brimming with color and energy.

The 28-year-old found his own path to becoming an artist, as a young teenager whose world revolved around skateboarding. “There was an artist community” that surrounded skateboarding, he recalled, so it was a natural entryway into art for him.

He continued its pursuit, without traditional training at first. “I was inspired by folk art,” he said. “A young kid could see and do what I was seeing.”

He described it as a “do-it-yourself” philosophy, as articulated in punk rock: “It’s not what you play, it’s how you play.”

Eventually Mr. Weiss went on to serious art studies, at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. He received his BFA from Parsons in 2014. In 2017, he decided to drive across the country and began a stint in Los Angeles, working in a framing shop and as a graphic designer.

Day of the Sun (Credit; Lorin Klaris)

He enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Delaware next — “I was really able to focus, with no distractions” — until it was interrupted by the pandemic last year. With school shut down, he concentrated on his painting, working part-time at a gallery.

Although Mr. Weiss came to art on his own terms and through his own route, it was not entirely surprising to his family. His grandmother, Lillian August, is a noted textile and furniture designer, who encouraged his interest in abstract art.

“She told me de Kooning was the best,” Mr. Weiss said.

Rooftop Party (Credit: Lorin Klaris)

His maternal great-grandmother was a landscape artist, and his grandmother, Alice Klaris, is a ceramicist. It was at her Westmoreland home that Mr. Weiss spent summers on the Island, growing up in Connecticut. Although his art is more abstract, “I was inspired by the nature around me, especially the light,” he said.

Like other Island artists, he’s made the most of his isolation during the pandemic, concentrating on his work without distractions and taking inspiration from the world around him.

“I’ll be glad to get back into the community,” he acknowledged. Not overlooking the opportunities offered by living on the East End, though, his time here hasn’t been all work and no play. “I’ve taken up surfing at Ditch Plains,” Mr. Weiss said.

His works are currently on exhibit at VSOP Gallery (vsopprojects.com) in Greenport, where they will be shown until May 23. He will have another show at Harper’s Gallery (harpersgallery.com) in East Hampton, opening on May 22. More information about the artist is at calebweiss.com.

Before and After (Credit: Lorin Klaris)