The Hamptons has more art and culture than most similarly sized and populated regions, and as 2016 comes to an end, we’re looking back at some of the most memorable and important moments from the past 12 months. It’s been a year of groundbreaking shows, unforgettable works of art and big changes in the places we enjoy them. Our top five Hamptons art moments includes triumphs, bittersweet goodbyes and even hopeful mission to keep one artist’s vision alive for future generations.
5. Changing of the Guard at Hamptons’ Best Museums
This year was full of exciting changes at area museums, as existing talent found new homes and new blood stepped up to fill their vacant positions. After six years of working at the Parrish Art Museum, performing arts veteran Amy Kirwin joined the Southampton Arts Center as its new director of programs in May. In July, Parrish Curator of Special Projects Andrea Grover announced she would be leaving the museum to replace Guild Hall’s Executive Director of 16 years, Ruth Appelhof, starting on September 1. In Grover’s stead, the Parrish Art Museum appointed Corinne Erni as the new Curator of Special Projects. Erni was the creative force behind the New Museum of New York’s IDEAS CITY—a ground-breaking, collaborative arts initiative and internationally recognized biennial—and the co-founder of a seminal global curatorial platform on art and climate change, ARTPORT_making waves.
4. Peter Beard Gives ‘Last Word from Paradise’ at Guild Hall
For fans of Peter Beard’s densely collaged and bloodied photographs, his summer exhibition at Guild Hall was a blessing, a triumphant return and something to celebrate after 15 years without the artist having a museum solo show in this country. For those lucky enough to be discovering his work for the first time, Peter Beard: Last Word from Paradise was a revelation, an exaltation—a moment to be remembered. This was an excellent show by one of the East End’s greatest living artists.
3. Radical Seafaring at the Parrish Art Museum
On display at the Parrish Museum in summer 2016, this multidisciplinary exhibition curated by Andrea Grover featured the work of 25 artists tracing pieces from the 60s and 70s that are more conceptual and performance based, to contemporary works involving site-specific art and the relocating of the artist’s studio or performance space to the water. The show was a true marvel to behold and probably the season’s number one must-see show. It was also Grover’s swan song before her move to become Guild Hall’s new executive director (see the #5 moment in this post).
2. Grant Haffner Says Goodbye
Dan’s Papers cover artist, co-founder of the Bonac Tonic art collective, and so much more, Grant Haffner’s painting career went into the comparative stratosphere in 2016. After years of hard work and a perfect wave of social media love and luck, the artist’s colorful and propulsive paintings of local roads and utility poles set him on a path most artists only dream of in 2016. Haffner, who made the transition to painting full time, was sitting poised on the edge of what could be widespread international recognition and, possibly, art stardom, when he decided to relocate to Massachusetts. And—with a lot of help from his twin sister Carly Haffner, their artist friends and Hampton Photo Arts—he said goodbye (for now) with one more “Bonac Tonic” exhibition, Bonac Tonic Rising, in March at his favorite local space, Ashawagh Hall in Springs. Read our interview with Haffner as he discussed the move and all the amazing changes in his life.
1. Plan Hatched to Restore Linda Scott’s Stargazer
For 25 years artist Linda Scott’s iconic, 50-foot sculpture, “Stargazer,” has been a beloved unofficial welcome sign to the Hamptons for drivers heading east in Manorville. But, as many drivers have begun to notice, this treasured landmark is in desperate need of repair, and unless someone, or everyone, steps in to help, it could end up being one more fading memory of the bygone Hamptons. Now a plan is in place to restore the sculpture to its former glory, but it’s going to take $100,000 and the help of the community to make it happen. Learn more about Linda Scott and donate to keep “Stargazer” standing, at lindascott.org.
RELATED: Top 10 Hamptons Art Moments of 2015