Albert Sharp, Painter

July 26, 1922 - Sept. 29, 2012
Albert Sharp

    Albert Francis Sharp, a painter who lived on Buell Lane in East Hampton, died at his home studio on Sept. 29. He was 90.
    “His love of life, his love of his many devoted friends, and his love of the arts and nature was his essence,” an obituary prepared by Carroll West Jones and several other of his friends said. “His sense of humor was hilarious and he was a raconteur par excellence, ever ready to regale us with amusing stories from his wide and colorful experiences.”
    “He lived every day with a smile on his face and joy in his heart,” they said.
    Mr. Sharp was born in Newark, N.J., on July 26, 1922, to Myrtle and Albert Francis Sharp Sr. He attended Rutgers University and the Newark School of Fine and Applied Arts. He went on to study at the Art Students League in New York and at Syracuse University.
    After his studies, he had a brief stint in the Army and later spent years in Hollywood’s golden age film industry, where he knew many of the great stars of the time and landed roles as a dancer in several musicals.
    Mr. Sharp described his early professional wanderings in a 1970 interview in The East Hampton Star. He said he had had as many as 200 jobs, which included painting ties, addressing fan mail for the actress Joan Fontaine, appearing in a movie starring Judy Garland, driving a two-ton junk truck, farm work, and making blueprints of submarine engines.
    He traveled extensively in Europe with close friends and spent many months painting and living in France, Italy, and Spain. In 1962, in New York City, he met his partner of 50 years, Gordon Peavy, a ballet dancer and teacher, who would for many years run a dance studio in East Hampton.
    In the late 1960s Mr. Sharp and Mr. Peavy moved into their East Hampton cottage and art studio, where they cultivated surrounding flower gardens reflecting their love of light and color.
    East Hampton, he said in 1970, reminded him of the best qualities of European life: “the philosophic attitude, the friendliness, politeness, the organization of the seasons, and the pace of life.”
    Mr. Sharp painted every day until the end of his life. His most popular paintings were seascapes and vibrant, light-infused landscapes of Italy, France, Spain, and East Hampton. His work has been shown all over the world, primarily in New York, Paris, Boston, San Francisco, and throughout Long Island. He had been in Vogue, House and Garden, House Beautiful, and Town and Country magazines.
    Mr. Sharp’s painting earned him the Grand Prix de Paris in 1960, the Long Island Painters Award in 1970, and the Parrish Art Museum Award in 1974. He was also instrumental in bringing internationally known musicians and dancers to East Hampton, including the Budapest String Quartet and the dancers Edward Villella and Patricia McBride.
    As an artist, he told The Star in 1970, “When I paint I want to do something that will make someone happy 50 to 100 years from now.”
    It was in the 1970s that he and Mr. Peavy opened Gallery East on Main Street in East Hampton. The gallery was subsequently relocated to the then-new Amagansett Square. Mr. Sharp ran the first-floor gallery, and Mr. Peavy ran a successful framing business upstairs.
    During this period Mr. Sharp designed costumes and sets for a production of “The Fantasticks” at Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater. He created a poster for the Hampton Classic Horse Show and a painting of East Hampton’s Ladies Village Improvement Society house from which posters and stationery were printed.
    He was Buddhist for all of his adult life, a world view reflected in his views of gardening, which he described in the 1970 interview: “Flowers have to die to be reborn; they die and seed and come to life again. I suppose that’s why I believe in reincarnation — a fingerprint, a soul must be duplicated in time.”
    On Aug. 6, 2011, soon after the New York State Marriage Equality Act was passed, Mr. Sharp and Mr. Peavy were married in their blooming pergola garden. Mr. Peavy died four months later, on Dec. 6.