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Andrew Blauschild, Color Ghost Board

Andrew Blauschild, Color Ghost Board

Andrew Blauschild announces in one of the parking lots at the East Coast surfing Mecca of Ditch Plains in Montauk, eyeing a mansion in progress going up next to the lot. What that emphatic it means can be touchy when it comes to Montauk, especially when paired with an emphatic here. Over the past two decades, an explosion of humanity has hit the hamlet like a hurricane, transforming it from a sleepy fishing village and working-class summer retreat to a bustling hangout for the young, the hip, and the extremely wealthy.

On that same site a few years ago stood an unassuming ’50s-style motel on 5 acres of lawn and dunes that offered reasonably priced rooms on the beach. On this July day, however, dozens of construction workers scramble around the multimillion-dollar project towering over the busy parking lot: surfers and families preparing for the beach, people coming and going in every kind of vehicle—on foot, on bikes, and on skateboards.

The Montauk boom has brought all the usual changes: wildly unaffordable housing, displacement, crowds and traffic, and ecological woes from all the development, including toxic algal blooms and high fecal coliform bacteria counts in local waters that have closed shellfishing grounds. And, of course, there are the changes in the lineup. Waves are crowded like never before, and surfing—the “surfer” self-designation, the apparel, the equipment—is now apparently a brand, a lifestyle, “an accessory,” as longtime Montauk surfer and local business-owner Lee Bieler mused in an interview recently. Some locals have decamped (Bieler relocated to Kauai), and those who stay are often scrambling to make their way.

It’s all too familiar for Blauschild, who long ago decided to adopt Montauk as his home. For 30 years, the photographer has been knocking on proverbial doors in town and in the quieter nearby hamlet of Springs. In that time, he’s made a community of friends and earned local bona fides in part through a lifetime of chronicling the region and its people in photographs that express his deep affection and devotion and his search for answers to life’s most profound questions. Taken as a whole, they also chronicle his evolution as a photographer.

“It has surprised me, and it’s been kind of beautiful to watch his process,” says respected New York photographer and photographic printmaker Charlie Griffin. “He’s followed his heart and he’s done his own thing. He doesn’t track others’ work.”

Blauschild, represented by galleries in Connecticut, Nantucket, Florida, and East Hampton, appeared most recently this past summer in a show devoted to nature and landscapes alongside both contemporary and twentieth-century luminaries, including the painters and photographers Milton Avery, Rockwell Kent, Raymond Pettibon, Richard Estes, Donald Sultan, Caio Fonseca, Mia Fonssagrives-Solow, and Massimo Vitali.

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