Tag Archive | "LongHouse Reserve"

Alex Feleppa

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Alex Feleppa is the new horticulturist at LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton. He spoke with us about his new position and some upcoming winter events.

How did you become involved in horticulture?

I grew up out here, in Amagansett. As the bad joke goes, I was tired of the service industry. I got my start at Marders in Bridgehampton, doing cashier and delivery work, and every year I slowly built on that. About four or five years later I learned there was a career to have in horticulture. There were so many clever twists of fate over the years, because I thought I was leaving nature behind, and then there was a great green movement taking hold in the city. I was managing a garden store in New York and giving people what I thought was common knowledge. I realized there I had a tendency toward the whole nonprofit thing.

From there I learned about School of Professional Horticulture. The ironic thing about LongHouse, as it relates to my history, I was living in Queens in a mouse-infested apartment, going through this amazing program at the botanic garden, realizing my interest in horticulture and nonprofits when I was invited to a wedding and it was at LongHouse. That was the summer of 2005. It was the first time I’d ever heard of it. I laugh with people that it was so ironic. There I was in the city, and then realized that this oasis existed in my own backyard.

How did you get from a wedding guest at LongHouse to a full-time employee? 

My then girlfriend and I married and came out here and realized over the course of a snowy winter that our city life was up. For me being a horticulturist and her a veterinary nurse, we knew we could go anywhere, it was just a matter of where. In Spring 2012 we moved home. The first thing I did was to write a letter of interest to Jack Larsen [founder of LongHouse Reserve] and Matko Tomicic [the executive director] introducing myself, saying I was local, but I had this formal training. I guess the letter went over well, they had me in for a meeting not long after, and we all really hit it off.

It was a matter of funding. At that time it didn’t exist, but they were persistent and amazing. They worked at it and over the course of two and half years were able to come up with the funding for my full-time, year-round salary. For me it was a dream come true.

What are some of your new responsibilities at LongHouse?

One of the many hats I’m wearing is trying to increase our programming to be on more of a year-round basis, because there are four seasons of interest. . Our season is typically late April until late November. The goal is always to reach out to as many people as we can and invite as many people as we can. One great little insight is that there we’re always open by appointment—people can always call. This Saturday I’m leading a winter garden walk at LongHouse.

What can you actually see at LongHouse in darkest February?

 As I like to say, winter’s a great time to really see the bones of the garden. Because Jack has been building up the garden since he took ownership in 1970, there are trees and shrubs and garden areas that have beautiful structure and texture and grace in every season. For this weekend, we’ll bundle up and we will look at all different kinds of plants throughout the landscape. The emphasis for Saturday will be the witch hazel collection, a number of different evergreen specimens, which are some of the biggest in the North East and which are really mature and exceptional. We’ll look at some of the sculpture and how the snow takes on a very different look. Right after Juno, I had to walk around and survey the scene—the best way to do it is on snowshoes. I definitely want to do snowshoeing or cross-country skiing at LongHouse in the future.

The winter walk at LongHouse will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 7. The cost is $10, and free for members. LongHouse will hold its winter benefit at the Hearst Tower in Manhattan on Wednesday, February 25. Tickets start at $100. For more information about either event visit longhouse.org

An “Explosion” of Outdoor Furnishings Comes to East Hampton’s LongHouse Reserve in ‘exteriors’

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Lips loveseat by Colin Selig. Photo courtesy LongHouse Reserve.

Lips love seat by Colin Selig. Photo courtesy LongHouse Reserve.

By Tessa Raebeck

Whether you prefer sitting on leather or repurposed propane tanks, the exteriors exhibit of outdoor furnishings at LongHouse Reserve—the largest exhibit in the foundation’s history—aims to inspire designers and homeowners of every taste.

Opening Saturday, exteriors will display dozens of pieces across the grounds of the 16-acre East Hampton campus from 60 artists and designers both local and international.

“Prices vary widely, so do styles,” said Jack Lenor Larsen, the textile designer, author, collector, owner of LongHouse, founder of the foundation and co-curator of the exhibit. Wendy Van Deusen, Sherri Donghia and Elizabeth Lear are also curating.

R & Company, "Calunga" Chaise, Designer: Hugo Franca. Photo courtesy LongHouse Reserve.

R & Company, “Calunga” Chaise, Designer: Hugo Franca. Photo courtesy LongHouse Reserve.

“We hope viewers will begin to collect art and furnishings for their exteriors—not suites of matching pieces but those which will, above all, personalize their spaces—encouraging users to be more themselves,” Mr. Larsen added.

A number of furnishings, but not all, will be available for purchase after the show and sources such as Design Within Reach, Mecox Gardens and other participants have pieces available in their “great Hamptons showrooms,” Mr. Larsen said.

Globally sourced, the exhibit will display all aspects of outdoor living, with shelters, fabrics, lighting and other furnishings on view.

Local designers like Silas Marder of Springs and Sag Harbor’s Nico Yektai will show pieces, as will international designers and manufacturers from as far away as Colombia, France, Italy and Sweden.

Through exteriors, LongHouse hopes to show all the opportunities for outdoor living, instilling the idea that the backyard, patio or garden can become rooms in and of themselves, natural extensions of the home.

The exhibit is sponsored by Sunbrella, a design firm that encourages customers to channel the style and palette of the nearest indoor room when planning their outdoor space, in order to ensure the transition from indoors to outside is a smooth one, but not be afraid to make bold choices in design.

One such bold choice is the lounger “Fortune Cookie,” shaped like the crescent cookie lying on its side, made by Johnny Swing. The lounger, thick on one side and thin on the other, is made entirely from quarters welded together with stainless steel legs. An attention-grabbing bright red loveseat by California artist Colin Selig is in the shape of lips, with the arm rests making the curve of the mouth. The pouty love seat is made of repurposed propane tanks, but appears comfortable nonetheless.

"Fortune Cookie" by Johnny Swing. Photo courtesy LongHouse Reserve.

“Fortune Cookie” by Johnny Swing. Photo courtesy LongHouse Reserve.

Fitting for the springtime, the furnishings at exteriors allow one to be closer to nature and spend time within it, while still maintaining the comfort and style of the indoors. The outdoor furniture relates to the environment surrounding it, enhancing its natural beauty and allowing the viewer to enjoy nature without disrupting it.

One way the pieces relate to and work with the nature surrounding them is through “fire and water,” Mr. Larsen said. Items like fountains, showers, stoves and outdoor bonfires and fire pits recreate the natural elements without overshadowing them.

The “bench place” on site has up to 20 benches and there will be a dozen sun beds to choose from at the “lap pool.” There will be 12 sites at the exhibit, each with a distinctive style. Two of the rooms, the garden rooms, are under cover.

LongHouse encourages visitors to design their outdoor space at “a fraction of the cost” of furnishing an indoor room—or to splurge.

“There are such blockbuster pieces as a giant leather and steel hammock from Ralph Pucci for a tasteful 1-percenter,” Mr. Larsen said.

Lounge pieces from Brazil, which Mr. Larsen called “heroic,” are carved from heavy hardwood roots. Dozens of Pet Lamps, colorful, woven lampshades, will also be on display. Always unique, Pet Lamps are created by artisans in Colombia, Spain and Chile, complemented by cylindrical adornments made of mechanized iron and colorful textile cables designed by Alvaro Catalán de Ocón. From the American branch of the Italian design company Moroso, two dozen “wildly flamboyant” chairs will adorn one of the LongHouse lawns, Mr. Larsen said.

Likewise wild, the quartet SOUNDWALL will play during the opening reception. An extension of the sonic architecture company of the same name created by artist/musicians John Houshmand and Edward Potokar, the musicians play on inventions that are “sound architecture,” essentially pieces of furniture that function as instruments.

The SOUNDWALL drum wall is a wooden partition with 11 tuned drums of various shapes and styles incorporated into it. A triangular harp coffee table of cherry wood and steel also functions as a three-person stringed electric instrument, and psychedelic “thunder panels” made of aluminum and Mylar serve as a percussion room divider.

The exteriors exhibit opens Saturday, May 17, and runs through October 11. The LongHouse Reserve at 133 Hands Creek Road in East Hampton is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2 to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 per person. For more information, call 329-3568, or visit longhouse.org.

Relationship Building at LongHouse

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web LongHouse Students perform

by Emily J. Weitz

Last Monday afternoon at Longhouse in East Hampton, hundreds of students from across Long Island gathered for an awards ceremony honoring creative work inspired by the grounds. The submissions, 215 in all, spanned across media, from printmaking to sculpture, landscape architecture to dance.

Jack Lenor Larsen and the dedicated team at LongHouse have been committed to forging a relationship with schools across the region since the beginning. Selena Rothwell, the chair of the Education Committee at LongHouse, spends much of her time on the phone, talking with teachers about what they need. She organizes staff meetings on the premises, and talks to administrators about integrating the curriculum into the garden.

“Before a school comes for a field trip,” said Rothwell in an interview last week, “I am generally writing back and forth with the teacher to get a feel of the students. We try to address what they need.”

This is an important part of the philosophy at LongHouse.

“Not to sound corny,” said Rothwell, “but they are our future. There are many children who are not exposed to artists, children who have never left the area, who have never seen something unfamiliar to them. We want to open their eyes, have them think and see in new ways, and create a connection that will be a part of their lives forever.”

Clearly, students have felt the impact. Cars were parked up and down Hands Creek Road with parents, teachers, and supporters of the students involved in the exhibition.

One group from the Ross School performed a song, with guitar and voice, accompanied by a trapeze artist in a costume designed by another student. Together, they brought in the award for best performance act. Gabrielle Ment, who was on the trapeze, created the routine after being inspired by LongHouse.

“Someone once told me,” said Ment, “that when nature’s taken care of, nature spirits come out and play. That’s what I felt here. I had never done single point trapeze before, but everything here is so circular, so many spirals. I wondered how I could represent nature with this costume and this routine.”

Another Ross student, Emily Watson, won Best in Show for her short film, “Icarus,” which consisted of original dance, videography, and film editing.

“It’s based on a poem called ‘Icarus’ by Edward Field,” said Watson. “I read the poem as I dance. Based on the space, I tell the story. LongHouse is a good backdrop to tell this beautiful, tragic story.”

Sheryl Hastalis, their teacher, was amazed with the full access the people at LongHouse granted to her students, as well as all the other students who entered the contest.

“Once they met them,” Hastalis said, “they told them they could come any time. They let Emily swim in the pool as part of the project. As serious a museum as it is, they are always open. They do not treat them like children. They treat them like artists.”

While students from all over Suffolk County brought home awards, other local first place-award winners included Daniel Denton of Bridgehampton, who won in Landscape Architecture and Design, and Thomas Ludiker of Pierson High School, who brought home the award for Best Photography. Many other Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton students, both elementary and secondary, received recognition as well.

After the awards were handed out, Jack Lenor Larsen, who established LongHouse Reserve, stood up to speak.

“I’ve never seen such remarkable students,” he said. “They seem as put together as their work. I welcome these artists and their teachers.”

He went on to talk about art as a great learning tool to better understand the world.

“We see in nature what we learn in art,” he said. “Through observing art, we learn how nature works. Art teaches problem solving, creativity, and sensitivity.”

After honoring the importance of tying art into education and offering LongHouse as a resource for students and teachers, Larsen handed out a surprise award, The Founder’s Award to Selena Rothwell for her tireless work as the Chair of the Education Committee.

“She has the vision, caring, and all it takes to bring this together,” Larsen said.