Exhibit Watch: The Parrish Art Museum
By Michael Bruno
Summer is full of great outdoor activities, but whenever I can I make a point of heading over to Job’s Lane in Southampton and ducking indoors at the Parrish Art Museum, one of the East End’s most treasured cultural institutions. Filled with exceptional works of American art from the last two centuries, the Parrish also possesses an ambitious exhibition schedule and a diehard group of supporters, including art world insiders like Dorothy Lichtenstein, Ira Drukier and Adam Sender. When you stop by to take in all the glorious Fairfield Porters and William Merritt Chases, make sure to spend some time at “Dorothea Rockburne: In My Mind’s Eye” (June 19 through August 14), the museum’s current exhibition of works by Dorothea Rockburne.
Now nearing 80, Rockburne studied in the 1950s at the legendary Black Mountain College in North Carolina alongside fellow students Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly. Her paintings—geometric, often brightly colored and deceptively simple—are grounded in big concepts, like the golden section, the solar system and the writings of Pascal. I simply like the way she creates these seductive, indelible images, often out of humble materials (tar, graph paper, watercolor, wood) with seemingly minimal effort.
“Beginning in the middle 1970s, Dorothea spent numerous summers at a house in Bridgehampton where she could pursue her deeply abiding interests in astronomy, nature and math in her art,” says Dorsey Waxter, the executive director of New York’s Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, which represents Rockburne. “It’s thrilling that her work is now being seen in depth in the community in which it was conceived.”
The show coincides with the museum’s Midsummer Party on July 9, which is always a highlight of the season. This year, I’m excited that the always-rollicking After Ten party is cochaired by 1stdibs.com’s own Serena Stanfill Tufo. The event will be raising funds for the Parrish, which is opening a new building, two miles away in Water Mill. Evoking the farm buildings and sheds that have long dotted the local landscape, the structure will triple the museum’s current exhibition space.
“This will be a watershed moment not only for the museum, but also for the community,” says Parrish director Terrie Sultan of the facility designed by the dynamic Swiss duo Herzog & de Meuron and slated to open its doors in 2012. “With this new building, the Parrish will take its rightful place as a major museum and a center for cultural engagement.” Something to look forward to, certainly. In the meantime, let Dorothea Rockburne engage you. Parrish Art Museum, 25 Jobs Lane, Southampton, 283- 2118; parrishart.org
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BILLY JIM (EXTASIE); SCHECTER LEE (GEOMETRY); EVIN RYAN (THREE)