Tag Archive | "Parrish Art Museum"

Southampton Students Show at Creative Partners Exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum

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By Tessa Raebeck

Featuring this year’s work from its longstanding collaboration with the Southampton and Tuckahoe Schools, the Parrish Art Museum will present the Creative Partners Exhibition, on view from Saturday, March 8 through April 14.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is “This Is Us,” a photo-documentary created by the Parrish Art Club, the Southampton High School’s after-school group, taught by Southampton art teacher Gail Altomare with help from Cara Conklin Wingfield, education director at the Parrish. Being shown in the gallery through video projection and also via an interactive website, the film is a digital portrait image-and-text exploration of the community at Southampton High School, including students, teachers and staff. Inspired by the Humans of New York project in New York City, the photo-documentary provides a candid view of the everyday lives of Southampton students through the unique, individual portraits they shaped of the people in their world.

The Creative Partners exhibition will also feature work by the schools’ pre-kindergarten, fourth, fifth and sixth grade students, including relief sculptures reflective of an art history curriculum focused on ancient Egypt and paintings inspired by the master landscapes of the museum’s permanent collection.

For more information, call 283-2118 x121 or visit parrishart.org.

Eclectic Music in a Cafe Setting at “The Lounge” at the Parrish Art Museum

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Singer/songwriter Sophia Bastian (photo by Helena Kubicka de Braganza).

Singer/songwriter Sophia Bastian (photo by Helena Kubicka de Braganza).

By Tessa Raebeck

From folk music to Brazilian-infused Jazz, the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill will resonate with tunes this winter during The Lounge, its new eclectic music series presenting an unconventional line up of accomplished singers and musicians in an intimate café setting.

Rather than a traditional auditorium style concert, the Lounge invites the audience to be part of the performance and hear the music up close and personal. The audience is encourages to enjoy drinks at café tables, set up alongside the musicians.

“The cozy atmosphere allows audiences to experience music in a cordial, living room-like setting.” says Andrea Grover, Curator of Special Projects at the Parrish who organized the event with Museum Events Associate Amy Kirwin.

The series kicked off January 31 to a sold out performance by Edith and Bennett, a husband/wife folk and roots music duo.

On Valentine’s Day, the soulful singer/songwriter Sophia Bastian will perform at the Lounge. A New York native, Bastian recently opened for the Grammy-award winning band The Roots. Guitarist Ben Cassorla accompanies Bastian’s strong, sultry voice. Truly contemporary, her original music blends classic soul, jazz, blues and hip-hop.

The third and last act of the series will be the frequent Parrish performer, Richie Siegler All-Star Quartet, on March 14. The organizer of last summer’s highly popular Jazz en Plein Air series at the Parrish, Richie Siegler is the founding director of Escola de Samba BOOM and plays “jazz shot through with Brazilian beats” with his quartet.

The Lounge performances are at 6 p.m. in the Lichtenstein Theater at the Parrish Art Museum, 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. Tickets include museum admission and are free for members and students and $10 for the general public. Space is limited. For more information, call 631.283.2118 or visit parrishart.org.

Annual Exhibitions Showcase the East End’s Young Artists and Their Teachers

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The opening of last year's Student Art Show at the Parrish Art Museum.

The opening of last year’s Student Art Show at the Parrish Art Museum. (Photo provided by the Parrish Art Museum).

By Tessa Raebeck

A giant beehive you can crawl into, a field guide to Sag Harbor’s ponds and the surrealism of Salvador Dali captured on a plastic plate are just some of the projects to look forward to at this winter’s student art festivals.

If you attended public school on the East End, chances are you were featured in the student shows at East Hampton’s Guild Hall or the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill. A new batch of young artists are now getting their turn; the Student Art Festival at Guild Hall opened January 18 and the Parrish will exhibit local students starting February 1.

“The annual Student Exhibition is an important tradition for the Parrish,” said Cara Conklin-Wingfield, the museum’s education director. “It’s a way we honor the work of regional art educators and connect with children and families in the community.”

The tradition started over 60 years ago, although the exact date is unknown. Conklin-Wingfield knows it’s been a long time, as her 70-something year old aunt remembers being in the show as a kid.

In addition to fostering local talent, the student shows aim to support and showcase art educators and highlight the work they’re doing in classrooms across the East End.

At the Parrish, teachers for pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade students submit group projects, as a single work or individual works assembled into a mural.

The third and fourth grades from Sag Harbor Elementary School (SHES) will be featured at the Parrish.

Led by art teacher Meg Mandell, “Sag Harbor Ponds – A Child’s Field Guide” incorporates the work of the 3D, 3GK, 3K and 3SC third grade classes. The large mural includes an information key and “other fun facts about our local ponds,” Mandell said, assembled onto a 3D two by four foot replica of the guide, which is now available in the school library.

A 3rd grader hard at work on "Sag Harbor Ponds - A Child's Field Guide" in Meg Mandell's art classroom at Sag Harbor Elementary School.

A 3rd grader hard at work on “Sag Harbor Ponds – A Child’s Field Guide” in Meg Mandell’s art classroom at Sag Harbor Elementary School. (Meg Mandell photo).

“The SHES art department,” Mandell said, “understands the importance of using art as a learning tool for other subject areas…We often collaborate with teachers to help our students understand the curriculum better and make the learning fun.”

Mandell worked with science teacher Kryn Olson and librarian Claire Viola in developing the project and visited the local ponds to collect reference materials.

The fourth grade, led by art teacher Laurie DeVito, has created a large 3D sculpture for the Parrish, made of plates inspired by various art disciplines.

DeVito taught each class about a different style of art, used a game to decide the individual subject matter (animal, vegetable, mineral, etc.), and led the group in creating mixed media pieces on plastic plates, which resemble stained glass windows when held up to the light. The plates will be displayed on pretend cardboard brake fronts supplied by Twin Forks Moving.

After learning about Van Gogh, the 4LS class made impressionistic plates. 4C read a book about Salvador Dali and created plates with surrealistic subjects like flying pigs and other “really imaginative subject matter,” DeVito said. 4S did realism plates and after looking at work by Picasso, 4R made cubist designs.

“I think it makes it more special for them,” DeVito said of the Parrish show. “It makes it more grown up and I think it applies a good kind of pressure.”

Having done a micro biotic organism last year, this year the Hayground School evolved to insects and is assembling a giant beehive on site.

“It’s a beehive that you can go in,” Conklin-Wingfield said, adding Hayground’s projects are always “really ambitious.”

One of Laurie DeVito's 4th grade classes at Sag Harbor Elementary School with their Surrealist Plate Cupboard.

One of Laurie DeVito’s 4th grade classes at Sag Harbor Elementary School with their Surrealist Plate Cupboard.

In its 22nd year, the Student Art Festival at Guild Hall is separated into two parts, high school students and those in Kindergarten through the eighth grade. Sag Harbor is only participating in the high school show.

Highlights include farmland paintings from Wainscott students, Japanese Manga drawings from Shelter Island, Cityscape Line Designs from Bridgehampton and a Monet water lilies triptych made by the Liz Paris’ Kindergarten class at Amagansett.

“That’s really exciting to see,” said Michelle Klein, the Lewis B. Cullman Associate for Museum Education at Guild Hall. “And again, because it’s Kindergarteners, it’s really amazing.”

When you first enter the show, a large 68 by 72 inch nature print made by Montauk students using leaves, sticks, bark and other natural materials is on display.

“It’s our opportunity to really give back to the community and for us to be able to exhibit our local young talent, the possible artists of the future,” said Klein.

“It’s really great,” she added, “to provide an outlet and a space for this exhibition. It’s exactly what we’re here for and why we do it.”

The 2014 Student Exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum will be on display from February 1 to March 2. For more information, call 631-283-2118 ext. 130. The Student Art Festival at Guild Hall is being shown January 18 to February 23 for younger students and March 8 to April 20 for high school students. For more information, visit guildhall.org.

Helping the Museum Grow

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By Emily J. Weitz


The mission of the Parrish Art Museum is to bring art and people together, and as the space expands, so too will the mission’s reach. There are obvious ways that the museum serves as a forum for these connections, from gala events to workshops for children. But one way that the Parrish has really embedded itself in the fabric of the local community is through the Business Council. Established in 1998 by former director Trudy Kramer and trustee Donald Sullivan, the Business Council brings local business owners and managers together under the name of the Parrish.

“Trudy Kramer made it a priority to reconnect with the local and regional business community,” says Sullivan, who in addition to being a trustee of the Parrish and Chairman of the Business Council, owns the Southampton Publick House. “It helps the Parrish get its mission out to the business managers and owners, who are normally very busy people and are continually asked to support a myriad of associations and charities.”

Creating the Business Council has allowed the Parrish to be an integral part of the local business community.

“It’s a way to create an identity for the Parrish as a member of the community that reaches all audiences including students, student parents, 2nd homeowners and summer visitors,” he said.

In addition to the benefits the Parrish gleans from the support of the community, the businesses have a lot to gain from joining.

“The Business Council is designed to give members the opportunity to increase their visibility by linking their name with the Parrish,” says Melissa Gatz, membership manager at the Parrish. “Business Council members receive recognition for their support on the museum’s web site, through a listing in the Midsummer Gala Journal, and in ads.”

The support they lend is used for educational programming at the Parrish.

“Plus,” adds Gatz, “Business Council members receive free or discounted tickets to our three networking events per year. And the events are fun!”

One of these events is coming up. Two Forks and a Cork, the Business Council’s annual wine tasting and networking event, is a chance for business leaders to get together.

“This event is important to the Parrish,” says Gatz, “because it gives local business professionals the opportunity to reconnect. I’m always surprised to see who attends our events… Don Sullivan always emphasized the importance of these events, and he thinks the reason they are so successful is they are short and sweet, and that appeals to the busy professional trying to do it all.”

This year, the event will showcase seven wineries from the North and South forks. Channing Daughters, Croteaux Vineyards, Duck Walk South, Jampesport Vineyards, Peconic Bay Winery, and Wolffer Estate will all participate. The Riverhead Project will provide hors d’oeuvres and Mali B Sweets will provide desserts.

“A few of the wineries will actually be debuting some of their 2011 creations,” says Gatz.

In the meantime, the construction of the museum’s new home in Water Mill is proceeding “apace,” says Mark Segal, marketing director at The Parrish.

“Wiring, plumbing, insulation, framing… much of the roof has been finished, including a large section of the south roof visible from Route 27,” he said. “The parking lot is being laid out, the floors have been sealed, and landscaping is underway. All glass has been installed except for the café’s window wall. We are anticipating a mid-October opening, though we do not have a specific date as of yet.”

Other noteworthy aspects of the design of the new building include “the presentation of art in naturally skylit galleries, which replicate the conditions of the artist studios that inspired the design,” says Segal. There will also be “on-site amenities, including a café,” says Segal, “and the opportunity to enjoy the landscape from both within and outside the building.”

As the Parrish Art Museum grows into the new space on Route 27, their visibility will inevitably increase.

“The most obvious change,” says Segal, “[is that] due to the tripling of our exhibition space to 12,000 square feet, [we will be able to] present the first-ever installation of our permanent collection at the same time as temporary exhibitions.”

xIn addition, programming will grow as they make use of “a state-of-the-art multipurpose space for films, lectures, performance, and other public programs. Galleries will be designed to enable the presentation of the full range of contemporary art, including time based and high tech media. The building will allow for an expansion of all our programs,” says Segal.


Students Offer Their Take on Portraiture

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By Emily J. Weitz

For the past six weeks, the Parrish Art Museum has showcased “American Portraits: Treasures from the Parrish Art Museum.” With portrait paintings spanning the 19th and 20th centuries, the museum delves deep into the riches of its own collection.

But on the tail end of this exhibit, another body of work will be revealed. Inspired by American Portraits, school age children across the East End have created their own portraits, and these wildly colorful and energetic pieces will be on display in Students View American Portraits, with an opening reception this Saturday, December 3 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Laurie DeVito, art teacher at Sag Harbor Elementary School, adores this opportunity to work with the Parrish.

“We have such a rich artistic community here in Sag Harbor,” she says. “And it’s a great opportunity to tap into some of our resources.”

DeVito believes that when the students go to the Parrish and other cultural institutions on the East End, they are inspired in their own work to then go back to the classroom and create; the creative juices flow.

It’s one thing to go to a museum and look at the work on the walls. But with an effort like Students View American Portraits, “The experience is interactive,” says DeVito.

After visiting the museum, Sag Harbor Elementary students went back to the art room to make their own portraits. Each grade tackled a different assignment. Kindergarteners utilized shells and seaweed and other treasures that Meg Mandell, the other art teacher, had gathered on the beach.

Mandell gestures to the dozens of giant clam shells on one table in the art room.

“I’ve been going to the beach to collect things since the summer, knowing we would use them for our projects,” she says.

The students decorated the clam shells to make little faces, complete with seaweed hair, stone noses, moustaches, and googly eyes. Older kids worked on more traditional portrait paintings, or sculptures, or collaborative pieces. All the projects fall under the umbrella of portraiture, and the students were able to explore different interpretations of that idea.

In the art room at Sag Harbor Elementary, students’ work is bursting from the walls, filling the tables, and standing in the middle of the room. Their work is displayed throughout the school.

“And at the end of the year, we also have an opportunity for the kids to show their work in the school, when we invite parents to see what they’ve been doing,” says DeVito.

But this is different. The Parrish is a real museum, where work of some of the greatest artists in history has been showed.

For the students, “This is a real sense of pride,” says DeVito. “When they see their work displayed in the museum, it gives them a lot of confidence.”

Mandell chimes in that “It’s an affirmation of what they’re doing.”

Students’ work will be carefully shipped over to the Parrish in time for opening day, at which time students, families, and friends will be invited to a free reception to view the work on display for the first time.

“The kids always run right over to see their work, first, of course,” says DeVito.

In addition, there will be food, drinks and entertainment, including a juggler, face painting, and other kid-friendly activities. This event is open to the public, and it’s a chance to see the work that Sag Harbor students are doing as well as kids from other districts.

“We definitely get ideas from other schools,” says Mandell.

“And they get ideas from us,” adds DeVito. “I think it’s a great time to see the amazing work our students are producing. We’re a very artistic community and that is evident in the work.”

This exhibition was open to all Pre-K through 8th grade students in Riverhead, Southampton, East Hampton, and Southold townsips. In another upcoming exhibition, high school students from Brookhaven, Riverhead, East Hampton and Southampton will have work on display, and there will be a competition for high school seniors.

The student art show is “one of my favorite exhibits that the Parrish does,” says DeVito. She adds slyly that she’s “not at all biased. But seriously. It is so incredibly colorful and creative. It’s a lot of fun.”










Sicilian Marionettes Have a Story to Tell

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By Emily J Weitz

As long as there has been language, there have been stories. Passed down from generation to generation, these stories are the legacy of our ancestors. One family, which came from Sicily and thrived in New York, became remarkably good at telling stories in a unique way, and therefore, they kept their heritage alive.

Since 1918, the Manteo family has told and retold their stories through meticulously constructed marionettes. These nearly-life-sized puppets, some of which stand five feet tall and weigh 125 pounds, come to life under the guidance of a skilled puppeteer.

The stories they tell are the universal tales of good and evil.

The values that the marionettes demonstrate are about “fighting the demons of the world, fighting for love or honor, the triumph of good over evil,” says Tony DeNonno, award-winning TV producer-writer-director and historian who has studied and worked with the Manteo family extensively. “The elements in these stories are timeless.”

DeNonno points out that the puppeteers who created these marionettes and who told these stories again and again were “Not only great actors; these marionettes are also works of art. The puppeteers could carve and paint faces, they could draw scenery and bring characters to life. Audiences were enchanted with the characters and the believability and the drama.”

The stories were told again and again by several generations of the Manteo family in Little Italy, from 1918 until the late 1990s. The family has since dispersed to Florida and other locales, but historians at the Italian American Museum and devoted folklorists and filmmakers like DeNonno have committed themselves to keeping the tradition alive.

“The marionettes are part of the Italian American Museum now, and we are in the process of preserving the tradition,” says DeNonno. “We’re preserving the librettos, and translating these timeless priceless stories. These are the only librettos in the world of this amazing Sicilian marionette tradition, and we are working with folklorists and historians to learn to translate these librettos and re-present them.”

In the meantime, DeNonno devotes himself to making the Manteo story known. His award-winning documentary, “It’s One Family: Knock On Wood,” was nationally broadcast on PBS and captures the story of five generations of the Manteo family making marionettes and performing together in New York City. He travels to museums and other venues around the country sharing the story.

Even though the Manteos started performing in New York in the early 20th century, the tradition reaches back centuries earlier.

“The origins are from Charlemagne,” explains DeNonno. “He was a legendary emperor known for his benevolence, and the legends of Charlemagne (Carlo Magno in Italian) became part of Sicilian tradition. The stories were told by troubadours in rhyme and verse, and they captivated people. The troubadours brought these stories to life up until the emergence of Sicilian marionettes in the 18th century.”

DeNonno will be coming to the Parrish Art Museum on Saturday, September 24 at 3 p.m. to share his film, “It’s One Family: Knock on Wood,” to do a short marionette presentation, and to speak about the subject. His presentation is made possible by the Speakers in Humanities Program of the New York Council for the Humanities.

“It’s not a lecture,” he explains. “It’s geared towards young children. I engage them in the process by bringing the marionette to life.”

The marionette he’ll bring with him on Saturday is one that was made by the Manteos in the 1980s, although some of the marionettes in the Italian American Museum are up to  120 years old.

“If there are young people in the audience, I bring little marionettes for them to manipulate and work on,” he said. “I engage the audience to make them a part of the story.”

The goal is really to make people aware of this precious form of storytelling that has carried stories through generations.

“The European Union just designated marionettes as a priceless art form and treasure and they are preserving them,” says DeNonno. “I am trying to get this preserved in America too. To bring these sagas to life because they are timeless stories that tell aspects of great works: the stories are eternal. The marionettes are captivating.”


Parrish Art Museum at the Halfway Mark

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By Claire Walla

I’m standing with Terrie Sultan, director of the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, on top of loose soil, while wearing a hard hat and close-toed shoes. No more than 30 minutes prior, the ground beneath our feet was a shallow ditch where electrical conduits had recently been placed.
“Things change so quickly here!” Sultan exclaimed.
It’s Tuesday, July 19, one year to the day since the Parrish Art Museum broke ground here in Water Mill at the site of its future location.
With a skeleton largely in place and concrete walls and flooring already poured, Sultan said construction is “more or less” where they had planned for it to be by now. Though she admitted this winter’s prolonged bout of snowstorms halted construction longer than site managers had projected, the project is still on-track for completion by summer 2012.
The grounds are still more dirt than anything else, and stray pieces of building materials — wood, nails, concrete slabs and Styrofoam — lie in piles waiting to be placed. But, the steel frame of the 12,300-square-foot long structure hints at what the final product will eventually look like.
Sultan takes me on a tour of the barren building while narrating form onto its steel ribs with a description of what the museum will entail.
“One of the points of the design is to actually show the process of how the building is put together,” she said.
Once we step around to the long, northern wall and stand where the main entrance to the structure will be, Sultan points to where the inside walls meet the ceiling. This is where the construction crew is placing light-colored perlins, practicing with ways to transition from what will be white, sheet-rocked walls to a ceiling composed of exposed wooden rafters and the corrugated metal that makes up the roof.
In addition, Sultan explains that a long, rectangular window inside the main entryway will not only peer into the museum, but will create a view that bisects the center of the structure and continues through the south wall and out onto Route 27 and the fields beyond.
“One of the major directives of the building design was to continue to emphasize the relationship of the inside to the outside, which was a major part of the architecture of the early East End because the light and the atmosphere is so beautiful here,” Sultan continued.
The original blueprint for the project called for several smaller buildings, all of various shapes and sizes, a concept that finds its roots in the potato barns that were once almost superfluous here, but eventually came to function as studios for many artists. Sultan said members of the museum’s board traveled to the working studios of such local artists as Fairfield Porter, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Chuck Close, Eric Fischl and Julian Schnabel.
“We wanted to absorb the atmosphere of how these artists work,” she said.
While the original concept of building several separate studio spaces was largely quashed by the down-turn in the economy (it included 64 walls of varying sizes — the current plan only has four), Sultan said the same concepts are still present throughout.
Plus, with this new model, the new Parrish will have what’s now being referred to as The Spine Gallery. This long corridor — literally, the spine of the museum space — will be used as the main artery channeling people and paintings through the museum, but it will also be used for exhibition space. In all, the museum will have about 12,300 square feet to use for gallery space, as opposed to the 4,500 it currently has in Southampton Village.
“The real dream has been to have the opportunity to work with the [museum’s] permanent collection and to demonstrate to this community just how much a part of this community we are,” Sultan continued. “And it’s happening.”
For her part, Sultan cannot seem to begin to express the level of enthusiasm she has for this project.
“This is better than everything I’ve ever done,” she exclaimed. “I’ve been in the museum business for more than 25 years and I’ve worked with some of the world’s great artists; and I have to say, nothing compares to this project, for the joy of the creativity involved. There are all these great minds … and I don’t just mean the architects or the landscape architects. It includes the builders and the structural engineers and the concrete people, everyone came to the table and talked about how this building was going to go up.”
“It’s a large-scale work of art,” she continued.
“This is every museum director’s dream, somehow: to have the opportunity to realize something that’s lasting,” she added with a smile and an air of appreciation. “Long, long after I’m gone, this building will still be here. And it will still be a part of this community.”

Rethink the Parrish

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Scheme C: The third concept for the Parrish Art Museum property envisions the creation of a horticultural center and greenhouse, as well as a 350-seat theatre space, courtyard and large multipurpose rooms connecting to the existing Parrish Art Museum building. A fourth scheme was also presented showing two additions at the rear of the property, connecting to the building via pergolas through the arboretum.

by Kathryn G. Menu

Southampton Village officials unveiled plans last week for what it hopes to do with the village-owned Jobs Lane property currently occupied by the Parrish Art Museum. That property will become vacant next summer when the museum moves to its new home in Water Mill.

The “Southampton Center for the Arts” is conceived as a visual and performing arts center. Combined with a conservancy dedicated to the preservation and improvement of the existing Parrish arboretum, the development as a whole is meant to nourish and celebrate the history of art and culture on the East End. It’s also designed to draw in artists of all disciplines from around the world to Southampton Village.

On Thursday, July 7 the Southampton Village Planning Commission held a forum meant to update the public on proposed plans for the Jobs Lane property.

Working with consultants Webb Management Services, planning commission chairman Siamak Samii said the village and a founders’ committee formed last year to look at the future of the property. The aim was to present a project that could address the needs of the village as a whole.

Duncan Webb, president of Webb Management Services and Douglas Moss of ForeSite Facility Planners presented four scenarios for the development of the property to the planning commission and a large crowd gathered at Thursday’s meeting.

Webb said the meeting was intended to gain community input on the concepts, all of which involve adding new structures to the Parrish Art Museum property.

In all four schemes, the existing 9,000 square-foot building would be restored and renovated and feature three entrances, a grounds exhibit, espresso bar, gallery space, a lobby and an exhibition gallery as well as a multipurpose room at the rear of the facility.

The village envisions a separate conservation organization would also be created, no matter which project is selected, aimed at preserving and improving the existing arboretum on the grounds.

The first concept presented was the smallest in scale, showing the creation of a 3,000 square-foot horticultural center and greenhouse in the northwest portion of the property. Directly adjacent to the horticultural center would be a 7,500 square-foot outdoor amphitheater.

Moss called this scheme “very minimal.”

The second proposal is larger in scale, calling for a two-story 25,000 square-foot addition in the same northwest corner of the property. That addition would house a 350-seat theater space, as well as a lobby, theater support room, multi-purpose room and horticultural center. It would connect to the existing building via a large plaza that Moss said would be shaped so it could also operate as an amphitheater.

The third concept calls for the horticultural center and greenhouse, which would connect via a walkway to a large two-story addition at the northwest corner of the existing building. That building would host the theater space, a theater support room, two multi-purpose rooms surrounding a courtyard, as well as a lobby.

The last scheme presented shows three new structures on the property. First, in the northwest corner sits the horticultural center. Next to that a 20,000 square-foot building would be constructed to host the theater, theater support room, a multipurpose room, classroom and a catering support room. Next to that building, directly behind the existing Parrish Art Museum, would be an outdoor performance space. On the other side, a 5,000 square-foot building hosting a multipurpose room would sit on the northeast corner of the property.

The two structures would be connected to the existing building, said Moss, through pergola walkways.

Moss added the disadvantage of the last scheme is that the structures begin to close off visual access to the arboretum, something the village is trying to promote, not detract from.

While Duncan and Moss did not present financial figures, on Monday Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley said the project would likely cost around $20 million, with $10 to $15 million needed in the renovation and expansion of the site and an additional $5 million meant to cover the operating costs of the facility for five years after it opens.

A capital campaign would be used to raise the funding privately.

The facility, according to Epley, would be run wholly by the not-for-profit Southampton Center for the Arts, which has already been incorporated, and is in the process of filing for not-for-profit status. It would rent the property from the village.

Residents at the meeting were divided in their support of the plan, some stating its necessity not just economically for Southampton Village, but also to make the village more of a destination. Others feared it would be in competition with existing organizations like the Southampton Cultural Center, Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theatre and yes, the Parrish Art Museum.

“We don’t want to be in competition with the Parrish Art Museum or any other existing organization,” said Epley on Monday. “We have no desire to do that, which is why we are trying to create something a little different.”

Epley said the multi-disciplinary arts organization could host not just visual arts, but theatre, dance troupes and even technological art.

“Another component I would like to see is space for traveling exhibitions,” he said. “We can host different shows there, programming that involves not just art, but history, sports. We can develop relationships with organizations like The Smithsonian.”

Epley noted the founders’ committee has already been successful in reaching out to groups from New York City like Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Public Theatre and Shakespeare in the Park. They have all expressed excitement at the prospect of being able to bring programming to a space like this in Southampton, he said.

Locally, the center could also partner with groups like the Southampton Cultural Center, the Hamptons International Film Festival and even the arts program at Southampton College.

“There are so many different things we can do here,” said Epley. “And it’s extremely important we do something. This is the centerpiece of the Village of Southampton. We must have active, viable entities occupying this space 365-days a year. The idea is to create a destination point, which will be an economic driver for the village.”

The Parrish: What Have You Got When It’s Gone?

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By Helen A. Harrison

The thump of Governor Paterson’s shovel breaking ground on July 19 for the new Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill must have sounded to the Southampton village elders like a wake-up call. The very next day, they announced the creation of an “arts district” in beautiful downtown Southampton, embracing the Cultural Center, the Rogers Memorial Library, Peconic Public Broadcasting, the Historical Museums and the Parrish, which is its anchor and raison d’etre. The district’s first annual fall festival, billed as its “coming-out party” and dubbed Arts Harvest Southampton, is now underway, and not a moment too soon. That line, “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone,” from the old Joni Mitchell song, comes to mind. What happens to the arts district when its chief attraction leaves town?

As reported in July, the arts district is a key element of the village’s so-called vision plan, which recommends making art “a defining characteristic” of Southampton. So now the planners and officials are scrambling to figure out what to do with the building when the Parrish vacates it in 2012. They should have thought of that back in 1998, at the time of the museum’s centenary, when ambitious expansion plans were unveiled. That proposal, which called for an aggressively modern glass pavilion and demolition of part of the Job’s Lane garden wall, was met with hostility from several quarters, including the village board. No construction could be done without their approval, and not only because of zoning restrictions.

The village actually owns the Parrish’s building. Originally called the Southampton Art Museum, it was deeded to the village by Mrs. Samuel Longstreth Parrish, the widow of the museum’s founder. In short order the collections of art and antique furniture were relegated to the basement and the galleries were used to store plumbing fixtures (the mayor at the time was a plumber). When it was learned that the next step was to demolish the building and replace it with a parking lot—shades of Joni Mitchell again—a group of concerned citizens formed a private non-profit board of trustees and revitalized the museum, renamed in Parrish’s honor, in 1952.

But although the collections, governance and funding are private, the trustees can’t touch the building without the village’s say-so, and that wasn’t forthcoming. Hence the decision to move, first to the Southampton College campus, and when that fell through, to the Water Mill location.

On a smaller scale, this echoes the struggle to relocate the Barnes Foundation from its original home in Merion, Pennsylvania to Fairmont Park in Philadelphia, although in the opposite direction—from in town to the outskirts, whereas the Barnes will move from the suburbs to downtown. If you’ve seen the film, “The Art of the Steal,” you know that this plan has caused a titanic controversy, fueled in part by charges of mismanagement that bear no resemblance to the Parrish’s situation. But what strikes me as similar is the turnaround of the good people of Merion. For decades they wished the place would disappear, prevented it from expanding, and resented its parking problems, litterbug visitors and annoying tour bus traffic. Now that it’s leaving, however, they’re wringing their hands, howling in protest and passing resolutions demanding that it stay. Too little, and way too late.

Like Merion, Southampton is soon going to have a big, beautiful but very vacant building in the heart of town—not exactly a tourist attraction. Mayor Mark Epley has acknowledged that the Parrish’s departure will “leave a hole for a long time,” unless some alternative is found, preferably one that’s compatible with the arts-district concept. One proposal is to make it a multi-use facility for visual and performing arts, a kind of village cultural center. Oops, wait a minute, isn’t there already one of those just down the block? Let’s think again.

Remember the Long Island Automotive Museum that used to be on the highway, next door to the tombstone shop? That was so cool. Why not revive it, and put it into the Parrish building? I think it could work. They had an Avanti in the transept gallery not long ago, and it looked pretty good in there. Roll in a few dream boats and cream puffs for visitors to drool over, show car-chase movies in the concert hall, and problem solved. Not a good fit for the arts district? Anyone who thinks cars can’t be works of art didn’t see that Avanti.


Veering From Pop Art’s Traditions

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web "Portage" by Scott Anderson

By Ellen Frankman

Pop art simply isn’t what it used to be. At least not according to David Pagel, Los Angeles art critic and adjunct curator at the Parrish Art Museum. Pagel curated this month’s “Underground Pop” exhibit at the Parrish, assembling 35 works by 10 artists who all share a quirky new perception of the Pop tradition, a development that is in fact the inspiration for the show itself.

“I was noticing a dark tone or kind of a dark strand running through a lot of work I was looking at,” recounts Pagel. “I think Pop is getting kind of streamlined and slick and corporate and prepackaged.”

Pagel chose the pieces based on his recognition of their “greater emotional range,” despite their existence within a genre of art notable for its glossy, rather shallow aesthetic produced admist a craze of consumerism in the ’50s and ’60s.

Pagel noticed that much of this nouveau-Pop he was drawn to, despite all having been made in the last five years, in fact reflected back in artistic history – to early Pop and beyond early Pop, but also to folk art.

“They found that freedom in folk art where it was more handmade, more experimental,” explains Pagel. “The freedom and the idiosyncrisy in the individuality that comes with folk…I think that’s what I’m most interested in.”

For Pagel, the dark brooding mood that first intrigued him appears to be a product of this freedom, quietly lurking behind the “scrappier, funkier, more playful” tradition of folk art.

As a result, a sense of slowness emerges, a low-tech drawling composure that can’t be captured by computer pixels. “I think people are increasingly impatient to know things and to get results and I think a lot of the artists in my show are interested in slowing that process down,” says Pagel.

In choosing the works to include, Pagel didn’t discriminate according to medium. The exhibit showcases collage, bronze sculpture, oil on canvas, acrylic on canvas and even a projected video, exhibiting a range of artists while still allowing the viewer to get a sense of each artist’s individual aesthetic.

“I think it emphasizes the openness, it’s kind of anything goes. The meaning doesn’t reside only in the material, but what one does with the material,” Pagel says.

His only requirement was that the work captivate him and that the range in art be diverse.

“I had to be keenly interested in the work and I didn’t want any of the artists to be showing something similar to another artist in the show. I wanted everyone to be doing their own thing.”

And with an end goal in mind of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, Pagel appears satisfied with the collection. He loosely grouped the works by artist, but ultimately arranged to look best in his own mind. “I wanted to give each piece its own space so it didn’t look crowded, and I wanted each piece to talk to its neighbors.” In this careful attention to placement, Pagel finds the works resonate most strongly.

Though he insists he cannot take credit for eliciting any greatness not already within the art, as a curator Pagel feels he can “bring out” what may be hidden. “I can make a viewer see something he may not have expected to see,” he says.

Though the audience’s reception is kept first in mind, the process also brings joy to the curator himself. “One of the things I most enjoy is that I’ll put things together and I will see connections between the artists that I hadn’t seen before,” Pagel shares excitedly.

“My great love of Pop art is its accessibility. I’m interested in art that you don’t need to get a PhD to understand,” he laughs. “I would just hope that people take the time to look at it and think about and enjoy it – it’s a pretty fun show,” Pagel shares before chiming in finally, “and also a dark show!”