Midsummer Party Marks Final Hurrah at Parrish Art Museum Before New Building Opens

From left: Chuck Close, Terry Sultan, Patricia Birch, Barbara Goldsmith, Paul Taylor, Taylor Barton-Smith, Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper
(© Patrick McMullan/PatrickMcMullan.com)

SOUTHAMPTON, New York — July 14 marked Bastille Day, but in the Hamptons it wasn’t the French holiday – but rather art – that was a predominant theme over the weekend. ArtHamptons, a three-day international fair, held court at the Sculpture Fields of Nova’s Ark in Bridgehampton and at the Parrish Art Museum’s Midsummer Party in Southampton, which took place last Saturday evening.

Partygoers slogged through the notorious Hamptons traffic before arriving at the Parrish Art Museum, the oldest cultural institution on the East End, to attend the gala, which honored seven luminaries across several cultural disciplines: director/choreographer Patricia Birch, artist Chuck Close, author/historian Barbara Goldsmith, interior designers Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper, musician G.E. Smith (whose wife accepted his award), and choreographer Paul Taylor. The party also served as the last summer hurrah for the museum before its new Herzog and de Meuron building opens on Route 27 this fall.

Once inside, guests stopped to view the museum’s two photography exhibitions that paid homage to its surroundings – “The Landmarks of New York” and “Liminal Ground: Adam Bartos Long Island Photographs.”

Ingrao and Kemper, who were receiving congratulations from their friends, wore coordinating white suits.

“It’s the middle of summer, we wanted to show off our tans,” Kemper told ARTINFO.

“We made the long journey from East Hampton to Southampton, so we thought we’d be formal,” chimed in Ingrao.

After surveying the photographs, attendees ventured into the vast tents that were set up in the museum’s grounds for cocktails and dinner.

Close reminisced to us about his old friend Yayoi Kusama, whom he saw earlier that week.

“Before I was in a wheelchair, I was there [in Tokyo in 1980] and I sprung her from the asylum and took her out on the town for the night,” he told ARTINFO, before going on to talk about her happenings. “She got other people to be nude, which has always been my approach too. I don’t want to be nude, I want other people to be nude.”

And what about being honored that night?

“Ask me after it’s over,” Close chuckled.

In between a first course of shrimp, papaya, honeydew melon, and hearts of palm in lime cilantro sauce, and an entrée of grilled tournedos of beef with a purée of potato and carrot, museum director Terrie Sultan addressed the swank Hamptons crowd and then presented bouquets of white flowers to the honorees.

“We hope you think the Parrish Art Museum is the next great new landmark of New York,” she said.

The 950 guests who attended the cocktail hour, dinner, and after-party probably have faith it’s in the running — their donations raised $650,000.

Click on the photo gallery to see guests at the Parrish Art Museum Midsummer Party.