THE SITE features the home and studios where James Brooks and Charlotte Park lived and worked for over four decades as well as eleven acres of unspoiled woodlands, hiking trails, flora, and fauna. After years of neglect, the buildings have fallen into disrepair. Our mission is to protect and restore this important historical site, rehabilitating it for the education, inspiration, and enjoyment of our community.
The artist Scott Bluedorn has imagined the site in its refurbished, future state to help visualize its potential:
The vision of the Brooks-Park Arts and Nature Center is to reunite the original function of the property with its natural beauty and expansive habitat - similar to the way Charlotte Park and James Brooks experienced this special place in their lifetimes, refining their lifestyles to fully enjoy the environment. Brooks designed and built a 1,300 square foot studio - a modern masterpiece - fitted with tipped skylights to optimize the natural light. Park saw a distinctive shift in her palette once living and working here - her paintings, once monochrome, began to burst with color and light.
THE NARRATIVE associated with the Brooks-Park Arts and Nature Center is to preserve the residence and studios of artists James Brooks and Charlotte Park, who were key to the development of Abstract Expressionism in New York and the United States. As abstract painters, their foundational role in the advancement of the visual arts in post-World War II was critical, placing them within the center of its apotheosis alongside friends and fellow artists Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning, and many others. As such, this historic property is one of the keystones in the story of Long Island’s east end – a renowned artist colony and bucolic oasis nestled between ocean beaches, bays, wetlands, and wildlife habitats.
Located in the Springs area of East Hampton, the home and studios of Brooks and Park are a vital part of our local history, taking their place among the legendary visual artists that have migrated to Long Island’s south fork since the late 19th century. Springs offers a unique constellation of historic homes and studios representing visual artists Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, (the Pollock-Krasner House), abstract painter John Little (the John Little Barn at Duck Creek Arts Center), Judith and Gerson Leiber, (The Leiber Collection), as well as Willem de Kooning’s studio, and Ruth and Costantino Nivola’s home, grounds, and studio, among others. These artists are representative of post-war America’s dramatic rise to global prominence in the world of art and culture.
The structures on the Brooks-Park property, designated a town historic landmark in 2014, tell a compelling story of the couple’s life and practice. They moved to East Hampton in 1949, creating a home and studio on a bayside bluff in Montauk, part of an historic fishing village that overlooked Fort Pond Bay there. When the studio was destroyed by Hurricane Carol in 1954, they picked up the surviving cottage and relocated it by barge to Neck Path in Springs. The new property offered sanctuary while placing them within the vibrant artist community in Springs. In 1959, Brooks built the 1,300 square foot studio in which he would work throughout the remaining years of his career. Later, a small wood frame building was moved to the property and eventually served as Charlotte Park’s studio. All three buildings still stand; each of them is in dire need of restoration and preservation. The first mission of the Brooks-Park Art and Nature Center is to restore the properties.
Click here to visit Preservation Long Island and their description of the Brooks-Park property.
Among the principal concerns of the Brooks-Park Art and Nature Center are ecological sustainability and the use and implementation of systems that ensure the protection of wildlife habitats and our eco-system utilizing best practices: biodegradable materials, the utilization of solar power, eco-friendly water use, and energy efficiency.
The images below provide a glimpse at the deteriorating condition of this vital historic compound as well as its potential for restoration:
click on Jonathan Foster's site plan below
THE HISTORY OF CHARLOTTE PARK AND JAMES BROOKS ARRIVAL IN MONTAUK
photo by Ibram Lassaw
photo by Ibram Lassaw
photo by Ibram Lassaw
The Brooks-Park property represents a unique opportunity to examine the lives of two of our country's most significant artists whose lives and artistic practices commingled with the beauty, refuge, and grandeur of the natural world. Their migration from East 8th Street in Manhattan to Neck Path in Springs illustrates aspects of the east end that have called so many artists to its shores. In celebrating the lives of Charlotte Park and James Brooks, we hope to engage the public in the simple reverie, cultural richness, and flora and fauna the that surrounds us here.
Through engagement in the environment as well as programming that explores the artist's home, studios, social life, and history, our community will be invited to view archival films, videos, and photographs, to hike within this protected wilderness, to participate in workshops, exhibitions, seminars, and presentations, and to expand their knowledge and appreciation of the cultural sanctuary found in Springs.
Please join us in our efforts to reclaim this vital property and its indispensable character and historical relevance.