Beth Rudin DeWoody Opens Her Southampton Home

by r. couri hay | August 13, 2012 | Past Events

1 - Beth Rudin DeWoody Opens Her Southampton Home
Beth Rudin DeWoody's exhibit is on display at the Parrish Art Museum this summer

Renowned philanthropist and art collector Beth Rudin DeWoody has had a lot to celebrate over the past few months. Recently engaged to acclaimed photographer Firooz Zahedi, she also had the first exhibition staged entirely from pieces from her collection at Southampton’s Parrish Art Museum this summer. Entitled EST-3: Southern California in New York, the exhibit, curated by the Parrish’s Los Angeles– based adjunct curator David Pagel, focused on California artists like Dennis Hopper, Ed Ruscha, and Beatrice Wood. “It was the first time I had a collection shown. I’ve loaned to collections in museums, but only one or two pieces—not 150,” says DeWoody. “David did such a great job, and it was wonderful to have someone else look at my collection and interpret it.”

DeWoody has been coming to the Hamptons since the late ’70s, and in 1986 she purchased her current home in Southampton. “Everyone who lived here seemed to have an artistic connection,” she says about the hamlet, a natural fit for DeWoody, who first became interested in art as a student at the Rudolf Steiner School, which emphasizes art in its curriculum. While she briefly considered becoming an artist herself, she admits, “I didn’t have the creative edge you need.” Instead, DeWoody’s career began in the film industry, where she worked on some of the most iconic movies of the late-1970s, including The Front and Annie Hall. All the while, though, she was collecting art. “I got addicted to it,” she admits. “I realized my talents were in placing art and networking with art organizations.”

When it comes to deciding what to collect and in which artists to invest, “It’s based on what I like—but I look a lot,” she says. “I go from gallery to gallery and to museum shows. I listen to people and absorb what they’re saying. And part of collecting for me is also about helping young artists. To mix up art, more established with less established, older art with younger art, that’s how I like to curate.”

Going from collector to curator was a natural transition for DeWoody. “It allows me to put together what I’ve collected, to visualize and see themes,” she says of the process. “I’m enjoying myself, and the galleries seem to like the shows. And it’s great for the artists because they’re getting exposure.” Her shows’ titles tend toward the intriguing: past exhibits have included It’ll Cost You, A House is Not a Home, and the January White Sale. Her next show, Bad For You, will be exhibited at the Shizaru Gallery in London in October, to coincide with the Frieze Art Fair.

When she’s not working on her own projects, DeWoody gives her time to a long list of charities, including local organizations like the Parrish Art Museum and The Watermill Center. As for her favorite places to see art out East, “There are a bunch of interesting galleries right now: The Fireplace Project, Vered Gallery in East Hampton, and Eric Firestone’s Gallery.” She’s also excited for the new Parrish Art Museum space in Water Mill, opening in November. “It’s about time there’s a world-class museum in the Hamptons,” she says. “It’s going to be great for the region. I’d love to do a show here of the drawings I’ve collected.”

Categories: Past Events

photography by Firooz Zahedi (Dewoody); ERIC STRIFFLER (slideshow)

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