Village’s Valentine Surprise

Local artist James Ding installs his latest “XOXO Hugs & Kisses” at Southampton Arts Center.

Southampton Village plays Cupid this year, delivering an original artistic expression of love in the heart of downtown, in celebration of Valentine’s Day. 

Artist James Ding’s philosophy that “love is just as important as air, food and water” made it easy for Mayor Bill Manger to say yes to the North Sea resident and sculptor’s offer to install his “XOXO Hugs and Kisses” sculpture on the grounds of the Southampton Arts Center. The art piece debuted on the 13th and will remain up for several weeks. 

Ding is an artist who taught industrial arts in Connecticut, where he discovered a love of screen printing. He moved to Southampton to start a silkscreen printing business and found a new passion, as well as a new community that he grew to love. He eventually sold the apparel printing business and focused his driving energy into conceiving and creating large sculptures. Calling this his “new love in life,” Ding’s art is autobiographical, and his message: Love. His “XOXO Hugs and Kisses” sculpture is part of his Inspired by Love series and is designed for the community to interact with.

James Ding (left)

“I’ve been a working artist my whole life. Over 40 years ago, I fell in love with Southampton,” shares Ding. “I am very appreciative that Mayor Bill Manger recognized that my “XOXO Hugs and Kisses” would be good for the community. I am grateful to be able to contribute and be part of the village and community that I have loved from the start.”

The impressive sculpture stands 6 feet by 6 feet and will be lit up night and day for what is hoped to be many Instagrammable moments for residents and visitors celebrating love in all forms. 25 Jobs Lane, Southampton.;