On this very same weekend five years ago — Nov. 10 to 12 — the Parrish Art Museum opened its new home in Water Mill, changing the landscape of how art is viewed and appreciated on the East End, if not all of Long Island.
To celebrate, the museum opens its doors for a free-admission day on Sunday. On Saturday, artists will offer gallery talks, a members reception preview of a new exhibition, and a party to benefit the museum. Friday night will feature a conversation with Parrish director Terrie Sultan about the space’s architectural inspiration.
“I can’t believe it’s been five years,” Sultan says. “This has been a transformational experience for us at the museum and for the whole community. The legacy of creativity in the Hamptons, as reflected in our permanent collection, now presents a context for our special exhibitions in a way that it never could before.”
“We have exponentially more opportunities now to have our collection on view in tandem with art from outside,” says Parrish chief curator Alicia Longwell.
In its former home, the jewel-box space on Jobs Lane in Southampton, now occupied by the Southampton Arts Center, the museum’s extensive regional collection was only sporadically displayed, most of it locked away in vaults.
“We’ve exhibited more than 500 works from our collection” — now numbering about 3,000 pieces — “as opposed to fewer than 100 before,” Longwell estimates.
No other Long Island art museum has several galleries permanently reserved for exhibiting its permanent collection alongside rotating themed exhibitions.
The five-year anniversary exhibition “Five and Forward” pays homage to that collective legacy with “The Shinnecock Years” (1880-1900), paintings by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) from the time of his plein-air art school in Shinnecock Hills; by abstract expressionist James Brooks (1906-1992), part of the movement rooted in the Hamptons; and Alan Shields (1944-2005), who wove his lifelong fascination with fabric and needlework into fine art.
In the show’s “Forward” category, the Parrish launches an initiative to invite guest curators to select pieces to liberate from the vaults. First up is Rashid Johnson (1977-), an artist best-known for room-sized installations with a home in Bridgehampton.
“Our intention is to find working artists who will look at our collection in a different way than we would,” Sultan says.
Rounding out the seven-gallery exhibit are “History Paintings,” a new look at the genre of historic paintings, and “WOOD(S),” a wordplay on the traditional fifth-anniversary gift, which explores the subject both as humble material and high-grained inspiration through the works of Robert Dash and Esteban Vicente, both late of the Hamptons.
A PARRISH PREMIERE
The Brooks paintings, making their Parrish debut, are part of a major gift by the James and Charlotte Brooks Foundation — among 421 donations since the 2012 opening. James and Charlotte Brooks, both known for abstract expression paintings, lived in the Hamptons for decades. Shields, the fabric artist, moved to Shelter Island in the 1970s. “The Bayberry Bush,” one of the most beloved of the Chase paintings that anchor the early Parrish collection, makes a homecoming appearance in “Five and Forward” after a world tour on loan to the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Ca’Pesaro Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna in Venice, Italy.
The 5-year-old Parrish museum was designed by Herzog & de Meuron on a 14-acre parcel. With architecture emblematic, on a much larger scale, of studios of such East End artists as Chuck Close (converted barn) and the late Roy Lichtenstein (converted garage), the Parrish captures great natural light. As with a studio, the key question is: Does it work? With 330,000 visitors since it opened in 2012 — 70 percent of them newcomers — Sultan thinks the answer is: Yes.
See what you think.
WHAT | WHERE Parrish Art Museum
279 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
“The impact of architecture” lecture
6 p.m. Friday
Museum director Terrie Sultan and Architectural Record editor-in-chief Cathleen McGuigan discuss how the museum’s architecture has enhanced its mission. $12.
Members preview reception
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
Parrish Members are invited to preview the “Five and Forward” exhibition of nearly 100 artworks. Guest artists will speak in each of the seven galleries. Light fare and beverages available. Free to members. Membership starts at $40, parrishart.org/join
5th anniversary cocktail party
5 to 8 p.m. Saturday
Benefit begins with Quintet of the Americas performing “Watercolors,” composed by Sag Harbor native Nell Shaw Cohen for the Parrish’s 2012 grand opening. Specialty cocktails and hors d’oeuvres follow. Then guests get to view “Five and Forward” and mingle with 50 invited artists. $200.
Free community day
Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday
Admission to the Parrish Art Museum and all activities are free. These include techniques on the theme of building, including “UpSculpting” (making wreaths out of found materials) and making large-scale structures out of cardboard and boxes. Also live music, book signings, haiku writing inspired by works on view and light refreshments.