Meet Carolyn Beegan, Painter of Fruits and Lover of Billy Joel

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Sad People Ask: Where’s Winter?

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According to Michael Terman, director of the Winter Depression Program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute of Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, up to a quarter of the city is afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D., during the winter months. You know those people: pale, lumpy types who buy special sun simulation lamps and talk about moving to California a lot.

But what about the reverse problem? Some of us feel down when it’s warm out, particularly when it’s warm out when it’s supposed to be cold and snowy, like as of this writing. The perky local news people bantering about how “nice” it is outside, when something is clearly wrong, make us mad.

“It’s sort of depressing; it’s like nothing makes sense,” said Monica Sheldon, 28, a publicist who lives on the Upper West Side. “The city looks pretty with all the lights and everything, but when you go outside it’s just-I don’t know what the feeling is, but it’s not a good feeling.” With its unseasonable warmth, she added, the city felt “dirty” to her.

Lynn Harris, a 30-year-old producer at Oxygen Media, is another discomfited by the balmy winter. Returning from a single-digit ski trip in Stratton, Vt., she was alarmed to find the crocuses outside her Park Slope, Brooklyn, apartment making a premature appearance. “I have something coming up that’s not supposed to be coming up,” she said. “And I feel sluggish, I definitely feel sluggish. I really love winter. I like that brisk feeling. I like that feeling that I’m warm inside of a cold world. When I feel a little bit of red in my cheeks, it’s refreshing and invigorating.”

Also, said Ms. Harris, who plays amateur hockey and once nicknamed a boyfriend “L.L. Bean,” “I love accessories and I love layers.”

While this season’s chunky sweaters were languishing in drawers, Lenny Golay, 59, co-owner of the Corner Bookstore and the Lenox Hill Bookstore on the Upper East Side, was sending out a holiday newsletter to her customers bemoaning the warm autumn. The newsletter was hopefully festooned with illustrations of snowflakes. Alas, except for one bracing week around Christmas, most of December felt like … April. “Given the choice,” said Ms. Golay firmly, “I’d rather be too cold than too hot. Everybody on my staff feels this way. I like the seasons. I liked it when we had three months of fall, three months of winter, three months of spring, and three months of summer. There were nice, gradual changes. And we don’t have those anymore. We’re confused. What season are we in right now when winter is like fall, when spring is like summer, and summer is like another country?”

The thing about this depression is that, in addition to many people thinking you’re a freak and should just go sit in the park at lunch or whatever, there’s really nothing you can do about it. Being glum when it’s warm out goes against conventional wisdom. So you’re not just depressed, you’re frustrated, isolated, enraged.

Dr. Terman, whose Ph.D. is from Brown University and who denied having S.A.D. even though he sounds like Ben Stein on a very slow R.P.M., warned that things could be worse.

“There are actually some people who get a double whammy,” he said. “They’re bad in July and August, they’re bad in December, January and February; essentially they’re well only around the equinoxes.”

-Alexandra Jacobs

Mrs. Billy Joel, Artist Without the Suffering

When Carolyn Beegan met Billy Joel, she was a painter who’d never sold a painting; he was a rock star who felt like starting an art collection. It didn’t hurt that Ms. Beegan came with long, flowing, lustrous red hair, bright blue eyes and a figure that made her look like something out of a jeans commercial.

“I was catering tons of concerts and going out to watch the shows in between,” she said. “We made eye contact, and I got to know the guys in the band. I had no intention of having a relationship with him. He came to my studio in Long Beach.”

Ms. Beegan lives in a loft, an oversize Portico fantasy, that overlooks the Sag Harbor marina with views of Tommy Mottola’s former home-the one he sold for $8.5 million-and Billy Joel’s self-designed boat, the Big Red . The vast space, which she rents, is stuffed full of her art and leather furniture, all under a high white ceiling. The walls are painted what she calls “Veuve Clicquot yellow”-the color on the label of the Champagne bottle. “I took the label into the hardware store and we matched it,” she said.

At 33, Ms. Beegan takes her craft seriously. Her show last summer at the Arlene Bruegge Gallery got the East Hampton arterati talking when they got a load of her subject. It seemed to be overtly sexual, or surgical. Everyone wanted to know which. She acknowledged that surgery was an inspiration. But the long blue tendrils crawling through human innards also suggested a phallus on the prowl. Not exactly a Jamie Wyeth hanging at the Maidstone.

“I was going to call the show No Guts, No Glory or Madame Ovary or A Womb with a View ,” she said.

She grew up in College Point, Queens, under the La Guardia flight path. Her dad worked in the printing industry as a buyer. Her strict Catholic parents, who were born in Ireland, “thought art was a hobby,” she recalled, “and not something you could live and breathe.”

She did not go to art school, but rather to Manhattan College, which led to a good paying job as a computer and systems analyst. But she wasn’t happy. So at 26 she quit her job, left the boyfriend, packed herself up and moved to Long Beach, L.I. All for art.

“I gave myself until I was 27. I was in really small shows at libraries and restaurants. Nothing prestigious. I sold to neighbors for practically no money at all. I was completely happy doing what I was doing, but my mother kept saying, ‘If you call your old boss I’m sure you can get your old job back.'”

Then Mr. Joel came to her studio, and everything changed. On the upside: She made her first real sale, ever. “He paid $1,000-which was a lot of money for me then. I was very thrilled.” Since her arrival in the Hamptons, her collectors have come to include Ronald Perelman, Spaulding Gray, Larry Gagosian, Mickey Schulhof and John Eastman.

Last summer, when John F. Kennedy Jr.’s plane was first reported missing, she and Mr. Joel answered a Coast Guard call and went out to patrol Long Island Sound. “They ask you to pick an area, make a grid and check it out,” she said. “We were out past Montauk when they told us to forget it. It’s too bad: I kind of wanted to go up there, to Martha’s Vineyard.”

Her favorite Billy Joel songs: “The Downeaster Alexa” and “Summer Highland Falls.”

One of her most successful projects was a series of coffee-table-height wooden cubes on which each panel is a separate and self-contained painting. Mr. Perelman bought one of those, she reported. They’re sort of perfect for an upscale Hamptons summer home. She has done a number of still lifes, particularly grapes and legumes. “It appealed to me for a while,” she said. “If fruits and vegetables were good enough for Cézanne, they’re good enough for me!”

-Roger Friedman

Meet Carolyn Beegan, Painter of Fruits and Lover of Billy Joel