Following the reopenings of many East End art institutions, Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill is set to open its galleries to visitors on Friday, August 7 with three new gallery shows and more. “We decided that this wasn’t an area where we needed to be trailblazers,” Parrish Communications Director Susan Galardi says. “We were looking at the comfort level of our community, staff and members, so we didn’t want to rush anything for anybody.”
The first exhibition is titled HOUSEBOUND: Fairfield Porter and his Circle of Poets and Painters and provides a glimpse into the eccentric lives of Southamptonite artist Fairfield Porter, poet Anne Channing Porter and their inner circle from the 1950s through the ’70s. Nearly 40 paintings by Porter, Robert Dash, Jane Freilicher, Alex Katz and Larry Rivers have been paired with SQR codes for poems by Anne Porter and New York School poets John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara and James Schuyler. “It’s a new way of looking at it. It’s not always a one-to-one comparison, but you see these ways of thinking that make very strong relationships in the sense that the poets really looked at everyday life in the same way that Porter most often painted his friends and family and the objects left on the table after breakfast,” says Alicia Longwell, Ph.D., Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator, Art and Education, adding that once SQR codes have been scanned to a smart phone, the poems can be saved and read time and time again.
The next show is Lucien Smith: Southampton Suite, the Montauk artist’s first institutional exhibition, which brings Smith’s Rain Paintings series to conclusion. The collection includes 10 large paintings created with paint-filled fire extinguishers in a Southampton plein air studio in 2013. “He’s an extraordinarily creative and inventive young artist,” Longwell says.
The third indoor exhibition is Shelter Island-based artist Jackie Black’s thought-provoking Last Meal series, for which she researched 23 Death Row prisoners’ last meal requests and restaged them to create a striking collection of macabre food photos. “It’s a response that shows much of what’s going on in this country with capital punishment, police, Black Live Matter—all these things that have come to the forefront during the pandemic but were always there,” Longwell says, noting Black’s immense empathy for each name listed next to the photo of their last request. “It’s one of the most powerful statements about social justice that I have ever seen!”
All three indoor exhibitions are primarily drawn from the Parrish’s permanent collection and remain on view from August 7 through January 31, 2021. The museum galleries are open Friday through Monday in three 90-minute time slots scheduled between sanitizations, and visitors must purchase tickets for a slot in advance.
The Parrish reopening features more than indoor shows, however, as Art in the Meadow is going to cover the property’s three meadows in stunning sculptures, with new installations being added through mid-August. “It really seemed like the moment to be able to engage and enliven the outdoors of the museum,” Longwell says.
Reopening day, August 7, will be celebrated with this week’s Jazz on the Terrace guest flute/sax player Julie Bluestone in a socially distanced outdoor concert at 6 p.m. and with five powerful videos on Black issues throughout history by 2020–2021 Platform artist Tomashi Jackson that will be projected on the south wall of the Parrish from 9–11 p.m.
Art lovers looking to support the Parrish during their reopening can do so with the cleverly-named Save the Plate fundraiser, which has replaced this year’s installment of the annual Midsummer Party. People who donate $500 or more will receive a limited-edition plate that features the design of Bridgehampton artist Mary Heilmann’s 2020 painting “Waimea,” which she painted from her memory of a 1995 trip to Hawaii. Set up like the gala’s sponsor table levels, Save the Plate offers levels for larger “Waimea” sets ranging from one or two plates to a set of 20. “We tried to come up with a more creative, innovative fundraising solution, and we wanted to keep our supporters and the community engaged as much as we can, and in a way that makes sense for us as an art museum,” Galardi says. “There are a lot of artistic legacies out here, and we feel like we’re creating a new one with Save the Plate.”
Visit parrishart.org for information on donations, museum tickets, upcoming events and more.