Stars and Stripes

Southampton
07.25.13

Left: Parrish Art Museum director Terrie Sultan with artist Josephine Meckseper. Right: Collector Kyle DeWoody and artist Richard Phillips. (All photos: Frank Expósito)


“I HAVE MY BIRKENSTOCKS in the car,” said Josephine Meckseper as she compared her high heels with Terrie Sultan’s. “The designer of my dress made me wear these,” replied the Parrish Museum director, looking down at her feet. Sultan’s dress was dark blue and had a print featuring celestial constellations. “I really wanted it to be a clear night so we could see the stars,” she said. It was 6:30 PM and already a thick fog was descending on the Parrish’s new Herzog & de Meuron building, set on fourteen acres off the Montauk Highway. But while the weather that Saturday threatened to shift the museum’s annual “Midsummer” party toward April showers, the event promised (as always) to bring out the most illustrious of the art world’s summer Hamptonites, including Cindy Sherman, Ross Bleckner, Agnes Gund, Dorothy Lichtenstein, and Beth Rudin DeWoody—with a few Hiltons, Laurens, Bronfmans, and Wambolds also on the list. Sultan would surely get her stars, one way or another.

“The last building didn’t have much space,” Sultan explained. “It didn’t have enough room to show our permanent collection and our special exhibitions at the same time. We always had to choose one.” The new Parrish can now show three times as much of its collection while still having residual space for two special exhibitions, such as the new Platform program, which was being inaugurated that evening by Meckseper. I ran into the artist, with fiancé Richard Phillips and Andrea Rosen in tow, as she posed for photos in front of her Corvette, one of the exhibition’s three wall-mounted panels, which refract the museum’s proximity to the automotive thoroughfare. “Did you see Meckseper’s piece in the back that’s plugged into the Flavin?” Bill Powers later asked me at the dinner. “Meckseper is being powered by Flavin. Isn’t that great?”

Though her work employs the veneer of Minimalism with a splash of Oldenburg, the artist doesn’t take comparison lightly. “I’m not influenced by other artists,” she said. For her “Platform,” the artist also installed vertical vitrines—about the size of a magician’s water tank—on the museum’s plaza-like patios, visible through the lobby’s floor-to-ceiling windows. “Together, they create a museum without walls,” she said, though they reminded me more of the Seagram building back home.

Left: Curator Klaus Kertess. Right: Dorothy Lichtenstein; artist Alice Aycock; and Agnes Gund, MoMA PS1 chairman and MoMA president emerita.


The other special exhibition opening that night was a stolid retrospective of Alice Aycock’s isometric drawings, “Some Stories Are Worth Repeating,” which showcases the origins of her large-scale installations and outdoor sculptures. Relegated to the museum’s interior exhibition spaces, the works reverberated in their room’s insulation like Escher roller coasters. “That one’s still my favorite,” said DeWoody, pointing to one of the few sculptural models included in the show. “I love when you can see which of your favorites from an artist’s career becomes history in one room.”

Meckseper’s site-specific engagement, however, seemed a better match with the guests’ energy. “These rooms were made for parties!” Britta LeVa squealed as she circumambulated the precarious metal edges of the lobby’s freestanding John Chamberlain. “That’s why these spaces were made the widest and have the best views in the building. In my opinion, the galleries have suffered because of it. It’s hard to appreciate Aycock’s retrospective in there because those rooms are too narrow.” Distance, it seemed, was the Parrish’s true vantage.

“Let me see that serving dish,” Deborah Kass said to a waiter holding one cleared of glasses, a sign of the cocktail hour’s denouement. Kass raised it up, held it to her face, and fixed her curly hair in the hazy silver. “Is there a Housewives of Southampton yet?” someone asked.

Left: Writer Paul Laster and artist Deborah Kass. Right: Scott Rothkopf, curator and associate director of programs at the Whitney Museum, and designer Joseph Logan.


The rest of the art world came for dinner. Under the patio’s overhang and red lanterns, the air was noticeably thicker. Sultan gave a brief speech, thanking Fred Seegal for his patronage. A ballet of three courses ensued. “They have to have performances out here,” said Jonah Bokaer. “It’s like a football field of opportunity.”

When the plates of chocolate and rhubarb emerged, the night’s guests rose to enjoy the dimly lit vista. “It feels like the traffic is going into the museum,” Meckseper said as she took one last look at the speeding highway in the distance. The artist was right; a new group was indeed entering the museum—the “After Ten” crowd—for the party hosted in the museum’s Lichtenstein Theater and organized by Kyle DeWoody and Tripoli Patterson.

“Isn’t it horrible about the deer out here?” I heard Aycock say to Dorothy Lichtenstein as I came back inside. “You know, they’ve started to put deer on birth control because they’re overpopulated in New England. I have a soft spot for them when they’re young; they look like Bambi. But when they’re older—well, you never see Bambi caught in headlights.” The scene unfolded like those nostalgic boy-girl dances from sleepaway camp; the kids stared blankly at a screen projecting overhead, while the chaperoning adults took their turns studding.

“I don’t know why we’re still here,” my friend said as he was eyeing the door. “The house we’re staying at is having an awesome party.”

Frank Expósito

Left: Dealer Friedrich Petzel (center). Right: Collector Beth Rudin DeWoody.


Left: At the Parrish Art Museum party. Right: Artist Steven Ladd with choreographer Jonah Bokaer.


Left: Curator Gianni Jetzer with dealer Barbara Corti. Right: Dealer David Maupin with W editor Stefano Tonchi.