A Freeport, Long Island native, Andrea Grover is an artist and curator. In 1997 Grover purchased an old church in Houston, Texas. She then founded Aurora Picture Show, a nonprofit that screens non-commercial films in the church building. In 2011, she came back to Long Island as an associate curator at the Parrish; since 2016, she’s been executive director of Guild Hall. She lives with her husband in Noyac.
BTH: When did you first come to the Hamptons? What do you like about it?
AG: I’ve been coming out east since I was a child, mostly to Montauk. My father was a commercial fisherman turned boat builder and boat dealer, and we frequently sailed from Freeport to Montauk and Block Island. We had a big family of seven, plus friends, and we’d all cram aboard a 41-foot Morgan called Hoomanawanui. Don’t ask me what the name meant–my parents were enchanted with Hawaii and tiki bars. It was the 1970s.
BTH: What is your Hamptons home like?
AG: We live in a quaint 1930s cedar-shingled bungalow in the Pine Neck neighborhood of Noyac. The house and neighborhood feel very family- oriented, and a lot of homes have hand-painted signs that read “No shoes, no shirt, no problem,” and “Seas the day,” with buoys and other nautical décor.
Our house is three blocks from Circle Beach, the best kept secret on the bay, and directly across from my favorite little marina, called Hidden Cove.
BTH: What’s your favorite restaurant in the Hamptons?
AG: I have a few depending on my diet. I’m mostly vegan, but I do love fish on special occasions. My favorite spots are Almond for their Artists and Writers Nights–I still dream about the buffalo Chicken of the Woods mushroom dish Chef Jason Weiner concocted last year; Sen for their sushi and especially their oshinko pickles; Bostwick’s for little neck clams and lobster rolls; Rowdy Hall for their Impossible Burger; Nick & Toni’s for their pizza; and Shippy’s for sauerkraut, beer in giant German steins and the old-timey atmosphere.
BTH: Turning to work, you were a curator at the Parrish Museum. What are you most proud of during your years there?
AG: I am proud of so many things from my time at the Parrish–starting PechaKucha Night Hamptons, the Parrish Road Show, and the Platform series. My most treasured experience, however, was curating the 2016 exhibition Radical Seafaring, which was a survey of artists’ projects that were sited on the water or created in relationship to a journey along waterways. That exhibit received two exhibition awards, the Emily Hall Tremaine Curatorial Award and an American Art Dealers Association Curatorial Award. It featured 25 artists from six countries, and it was no small undertaking.
BTH: What’s been your favorite event at Guild Hall since you took over? AG: Having Laurie Anderson in the galleries and on stage this past summer was a dream come true. Her virtual reality experiences Aloft and Chalkroom have forever changed my psyche. I also love the series Questlove brought to us this year: Midsummer Night Conversations on Creativity with Questlove. It’s based on the artist’s recent book called Creative Quest and is structured as a discussion about the creative process; this summer, we had Neil deGrasse Tyson and Jerry Seinfeld participate, and the program is returning in summer 2019! I also really enjoy G.E. Smith’s Portraits, which is a series in which the legendary musician interviews and plays music with other accomplished artists. In 2018, he brought the Avett Brothers who were sensational and sold out in 36 hours with no promo.
My other perennial favorites are the Hamptons Institute, which has been organized by Alec Baldwin and Tracy Marshall for the last few years, and Stirring the Pot, interviews with celebrity chefs hosted by Florence Fabricant of The New York Times. I also adore hosting the Hamptons International Film Festival. And the avant-garde theater work The Summit, by Isla Hansen, Tucker Marder and Christian Scheider, was groundbreaking–this timely and ambitious work about artificial intelligence included inflatables, puppetry and projection, all created by three artists 30 and under. There are many more to list. How can I fit this into a single answer?
BTH: Tell us about some upcoming events at Guild Hall you’re excited about.
AG: We have the community-focused artXchange, a free all-ages program on Saturday, November 25, which includes live musical and dance performances by a wide range of cultural groups, free empanadas, a bilingual gallery tour, and children’s art workshops by Golden Eagle Artist Supply. We’ll also be hosting our first “Last Minute Holiday Bazaar” with artisan goods in the galleries on Saturday, December 22, and an Instagram-worthy photo backdrop, a screening room with holiday movies on continuous loop and giant bean bags for chilling or warming-up, depending on the weather!
BTH: Guild Hall is a great resource for our community. Do you think there are ways in which Guild Hall can reach out to serve more people?
AG: We’re truly a civic arts organization that was designed to improve community life. Our founding mission was to provide a gathering place for the Village where the arts would serve to create “a finer type of citizenship.” In addition to ten exhibitions and over 100 theater programs a year, Guild Hall has provided subsidized rentals for dozens of non-profits and regional associations for over 80 years. We also have longstanding traditions like the
Student Arts Festival and the Members Exhibition which both enable everyone at all levels of their careers to exhibit. What more can we do? I would love to offer scholarships to high school students pursuing degrees in a creative field. We currently offer paid positions to teenagers through our Teen Arts Council, many of whom are looking toward careers in the arts.
BTH: Describe your perfect day on the East End.
AG: It’s September and I wake up early for a swim at Circle Beach. No one is around and the water is placid. I float on my back, looking up at the sky, and think how lucky I am to have the sea. That’s my “reset button” before I head to work for a flurry of administrative and creative experiences and a dense social calendar.
BTH: What is the greatest part about your job?
AG: Having creative playmates is the best part of my job–and that goes for both the artists in the museum and the theater, and the staff. Many of those who work at Guild Hall are artists, actors and musicians. They never turn down an opportunity to perform or brainstorm. It’s a lively lot. I love going backstage before and after performances and chatting with the talent. It’s proof that we are all human with real lives and a sense of humor about ourselves. I also like getting tickets to sold-out shows! And the Friday night Salon Dinners we have with our Artists-in-Residence are always literally and psychologically nourishing. I also adore my Chairman, Marty Cohen. He’s committed to Guild Hall in both practical and visionary ways. He helped us launch the first annual Guitar Masters festival earlier this year–a success to be repeated in 2019.
BTH: If you could have anyone at your Hamptons dinner party–dead or alive–who would you invite?
AG: Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed. I’ve known Laurie since 2003, and for me, she is a sage, a spirit guide. I met Lou (who was from my hometown!) a hand- ful of times before he passed away, but we never swapped stories. The two of them at a dinner party would be riveting for both me and my husband Carlos Lama, a musician and DJ who knows a lot about rock n’ roll. We’d all have so much to talk about.