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Priceless art you can see for free in the Hamptons

Discover Watermill Day at The Watermill Center brings

Discover Watermill Day at The Watermill Center brings artists and the community together. Photo Credit: The Watermill Center/Maria Baranova

People come from all over the world to visit the Hamptons, and not just for its beaches. One of the area's biggest draws has always been art, and fortunately, you don't have to spend a lot to see it. In fact, to visit these renowned havens for great art, you don't have to spend anything at all.

The Dan Flavin Institute

WHEN | WHERE 12-6 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, 23 Corwith Ave., Bridgehampton

INFO Free; 631-537-1476, diaart.org

The Dia Art Foundation's Dan Flavin Art Institute is dedicated to the work of Wainscott artist Flavin. In the 1960s, while some artists did away with all but minimal colors and lines, Flavin even did away with paint and canvas, employing pure color and light. Nine of his kaleidoscopic fluorescent installations are on permanent display.

Visitors pass through spaces flooded with intense candy-colored hues and literally become immersed in art. "It breaks out of its own physical boundaries, and holds you in, at the same time. You're enveloped. You're wrapped in it, but you're also transported outside of it. Flavin's work is unlike anyone else's in that capacity," says Dia curator Alexis Lowry.

Flavin chose his best works as a gift to the public. "It's a joyful experience and one of the most fun spaces to go see art," Lowry adds. "It's complex. It's intellectually engaging, but it's also just really beautiful and fun."

Guild Hall

WHEN | WHERE 12-5 p.m. daily, 158 Main St., East Hampton

INFO Free; 631-324-0806, guildhall.org

Guild Hall's summer exhibitions feature sunshine and water through works by two prominent local artists. Southold artist Tony Oursler's "Water Memory," including the first-ever presentation of his imagery projected onto mist runs, through July 21. "Sunny Days" from Mattituck's Ugo Rondinone follows Aug. 10-Oct. 14.

"We always try to mix it up," says museum director Christina Mossaides Strassfield. "Tony's show is very technical with his innovation of projecting onto mist. It's art at the forefront of its technological aspect, pushing the boundaries."

Rondinone's show brings paintings and sculptures inspired by golden sunshine. "Ugo's work is coming from more traditional media. . . . People interested in something a little bit more avant-garde will be fascinated by Tony's work, and people interested in something that's not as technological will just love Ugo's work, because of its sensuality."

Discover Watermill Day

WHEN | WHERE 3-6 p.m. Aug. 11, The Watermill Center, 39 Watermill Towd Rd., Water Mill

INFO Free; 631-726-4628, watermillcenter.org

At the end of a narrow, woodsy path in Water Mill, quietly humming with activity, is the Watermill Center, an incubator of art, literature and performance. Artists from around the world apply for a coveted summer residency to brainstorm, work and experiment with artist, theater director and author Robert Wilson. Once the home of a massive Western Union facility, now, every summer, it's bustling with 60 to 80 artists of all disciplines. Says director Elka Rifkin, "The international summer program has been going on since Robert Wilson purchased the property. For 26 years, he's invited artists from all over the world to come and work with him."

Activity focuses on completing works, then sharing with audiences on two special days — one a pricey gala, and the other the free Discover Watermill Day. "You wander through the woods and gardens, and you'll come upon installations of art, or you'll run into performers. Sometimes they're on a stage; sometimes they're in the middle of the woods. Sometimes they're on top of one of our buildings. You never know, that's part of the fun," says Rifkin. There are art workshops for families, music, performances and even an ice cream truck. "We always end the day with Robert Wilson showing rehearsals of things that he's been working on that will then be produced somewhere else in the world. . . . It's a magical day."

Summer is the high season for art galleries in the Hamptons, too. All are free and ready to welcome visitors.

Chase Edwards Contemporary

WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily; 2462 Montauk Hwy., Bridgehampton

INFO 631-604-2204, chaseedwardsgallery.com

The Drawing Room

WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Monday, 55 Main St., East Hampton
INFO 631-324-5016, drawingroom-gallery.com

MM Fine Art

WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, 4 N. Main St., Southampton

INFO 631-259-2274, mmfineart.com

Grenning Gallery

WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, 26 Main St., Sag Harbor

INFO 631-725-8469, grenninggallery.com

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