Parrish Art Museum unveils new $26M space

21. "Max, Sam and Edo," 2011

21. "Max, Sam and Edo," 2011 (Credit: Parrish Art Museum)

Among the main attractions at the Parrish Art Museum, which premieres its bright, new $26.2-million Water Mill space this weekend, is the recent-acquisitions gallery.

Despite cancellation of previews of the museum due to superstorm Sandy, the building is undamaged, and the public debut will proceed as scheduled -- Saturday through Monday.

Considering the torrent of art being donated to the Parrish, the gallery will be one of its most dynamic rooms.

SLEW OF DONATIONS

"Meteoric" is how Parrish director Terrie Sultan describes the surge in gifts to the museum. "We noticed an increase when the building started going up," Sultan says. But since the Parrish moved in September from its longtime Jobs Lane location in Southampton Village, "we've been inundated." More than 75 pieces of art have been received in 60 days, according to a museum spokesman.

The permanent collection at the Parrish was its chief motivation to build a larger space with the versatility to show new exhibitions while keeping works from its vaults on display.

Among the most recent Parrish acquisitions -- all were gifts, either by collectors or the artists themselves -- are Bryan Hunt's 2005 "Veil Falls," Jack Youngerman's 2003 painting "Conflux II," a 1986 David Salle costume sketch and an untitled 1985 charcoal by April Gornik. (As a matter of policy, the museum doesn't comment on the dollar value of donations, a spokesman said. But auction sales this fall of other works by contemporary artists represented in the Parrish's recent-acquisitions gallery have ranged from $1,500 to $15,000.)

"In just a week," Sultan said, "we received six more gifts."

The influx of acquisitions presents a pleasant challenge to curator Alicia Longwell. "We're getting these works because people realize there's a very good chance they'll be shown," she said, "whereas before, they'd just sit in storage."

OPENING WEEKEND

Many East End artists have RSVP'd for opening weekend at the Parrish; among them are several who have works in the collection: Chuck Close, Ross Bleckner, Dorothea Rockburne, Donald Sultan, Keith Sonnier, Hunt, Gornik and her husband Eric Fischl. Also attending will be Malcolm Morley, the Bellport-by-way-of-Britain artist whose colorful show of paper works is the first special exhibition in the new Parrish.

Speaking of fundraising and other support for the new Parrish -- no public funds were used -- Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said, "I think the new museum and all that has gone into making it a reality is a testament to the significance of the area and to the culture and creative spirit that is a part of this place."

Pat Snyder, executive director of the 1,000-member East End Arts Council, says, "A world-class cultural attraction helps us all. Everybody wants to be part of that."

The Parrish boasts one of the world's top collections of art by William Merritt Chase, a pioneering American Expressionist who painted and taught art at Shinnecock Hills beginning in the 1890s. "I Think I Am Ready Now (The Mirror, the Pink Dress)," an 1883 Chase painting (not in the Parrish collection), sold for $6.6 million in 2008, just before the economic collapse that also collapsed the art market for a time. That broke the previous Chase record of $3.9 million.

Roy Lichtenstein's "Apple With Brushstrokes," 1984, was donated to the Parrish by the artist and his wife, Dorothy. In May, Lichtenstein's "Sleeping Girl" sold for $44.8 million in a Sotheby's auction -- a record for works by the late Pop artist.

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