Brothers In Arts
So many of the artists we claim as our own here, particularly the noted ones, are from somewhere else. Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Dan Flavin, Chuck Close, April Gornik, Julian Schnabel, Mary Heilmann, all were born elsewhere and moved here to live and work.
But there’s a growing crop of innovative, creative, young, native talent. Jake and Tripoli Patterson, brothers raised in Sag Harbor, are at the top of that class. They were immersed from birth in the local art scene. Lisa de Kooning, Willem de Kooning’s daughter, was their godmother and good friends with their mother, Terry Patterson. Their father, Leonardo, is an art dealer living in his native Costa Rica. In a few short years Tripoli has thrust his gallery in Southampton into prominence, and Jake has melded music, art, and the internet to create an avant-garde hybrid. Jake and Trip requested that their interviews be conducted via iMessage.
After living in Bali with his brother and mother for a few years in his early teens, Tripoli, known locally as Trip, returned to New York City and went to work in the gallery world, watching and learning from the likes of Glenn Horowitz. When he opened his own space, the Tripoli Gallery, in Southampton in 2009, it could have been dismissed as a faddish pop-up, one of those that come and go every summer; he was a 24-yearold professional surfer with wild hair and little business experience. But he’s outlasted the fads and is now in his eighth season. (For a brief period, he also had an East Hampton gallery on Newtown Lane.) On July 8, an Ashley Bickerton show entitled Wall-Wall is opening, and on August 20, the gallery will unveil a show of never-before-seen work by Susan Tepper.
While Trip was becoming a local art-world celebrity, Jake was making a name for himself in a different universe: the internet. He’s a rapper who performs under the name Yung Jake, and his inventive YouTube videos have been going viral since 2014. While internet fame is hard to measure (thousands of Instagram followers doesn’t always mean thousands of fans), his recent performance at MoMA was so well attended that security lost control of the crowd. In June, Jake dropped a mixtape called USB that you can buy on his website. It’s a physical flashdrive that pops out of a reproduction of Jake’s California driver’s license.
Like Trip, Jake grew up in Sag Harbor and Bali and went to Bridgehampton High School before studying at the California Institute of the Arts (a.k.a. CalArts) in Valencia, California. Now living in Los Angeles, he says the L.A. scene has made him “open up,” realize that he can “do anything, and, like, no one cares. More hippies.”
Still, Jake frequently returns to the East End, and when he’s around he’s easy to spot at the Hayground Farmers Market or walking around Sag Harbor with friends. He’s a soft-spoken guy in person who seems like he would be more comfortable behind his MacBook coding than participating in the late-night antics he raps about.
His fans include Kanye West and Theophilus London, but he’s best known for online portraits of friends and celebrities that he “paints” with emojis, using an app called emoji.ink developed by a friend. Time magazine was one of the first to write about his emoji art and, soon after, Miley Cyrus posted her own portrait by Jake on her Instagram. Most of Jake’s work exists in the virtual world, but he also creates more traditional art that is sold in galleries, including his brother’s. He is fascinated with branding, logos, and luxury iconongraphy, and uses it in his art and his rap videos — digitally morphing and twisting Fiji Water or Grey Goose vodka bottles and transferring them onto found metal surfaces.
Additional reporting by Lang Phipps