Actress Brooke Shields curates a special exhibition focused on animals and nature for this year’s Art Southampton.
Brooke Shields is no stranger to the Hamptons, where she has a home with her husband and their two daughters: “We just realized how happy it made us and what a great respite it was from the craziness of our lives in New York City.”
Brooke Shields—actress, model, author, original Calvin Klein jeans ingénue, and onetime Tom Cruise nemesis—is expanding her repertoire to the visual arts. The Princeton grad has cocurated an exhibit for the New York Academy of Art titled “Call of the Wild.” Featuring more than 60 paintings and sculptures inspired by nature and the animal kingdom by alumni of the Academy (of which Shields is a board member), it will be shown at this year’s edition of the art fair Art Southampton, running from July 7 through 11.
The theme seems apt, as the school’s MFA program has a long history of working with human models as well as exotic animals brought in by handlers; the Academy also partners each year with the Westminster Kennel Club to run its art competition, with the winning work adorning the club’s annual postcard and official promotional poster.
“What I love about the school is that their focus is on traditional training in painting, drawing, and sculpture, so they’re all highly skilled artists,” says Shields. “It’s like learning a language and making sure that the fundamentals and grammar are instilled.”
Shields has another tie to the school, established in 1982: Among the Academy’s founders was Andy Warhol, a friend of Shields beginning when she was a teen model. “What I think Andy would be proud of, probably even more so than just what the school produces, is the supportive nature of it,” she says. “It’s a rigorous training course, but the support that the artists have for one another—I think he would have loved that because it’s very genuine. It’s not a cutthroat environment.”
Untitled, Loretta Mae Hirsch, circa 2016.
On this particular afternoon, Shields is traveling to the Hamptons, where she and her husband, Chris Henchy, have a home. “We just realized how happy it made us and what a great respite it was from the craziness of our lives in New York City,” she says. They share the East End residence with their two daughters, ages 10 and 13. “We have a dog now, and whenever I take the dog on the beach, it is literally one of the most peaceful times that I have.”
The trip out East comes at a perfect time: Shields just finished filming Daisy Winters in Georgia, which she squeezed in between shooting several Dearly Depotted made-for-TV movies in Ontario for the Hallmark Channel. For the latter project, a Murder, She Wrote–style series based on the Flower Shop Mystery books by Kate Collins, Shields plays a big-city lawyer who moves back to her hometown to open a flower shop after the death of her husband. “It’s lighthearted comedy,” says the actress, who is also an executive producer of the films.
And in Daisy Winters, Shields stars alongside a girl who reminds her of herself when she started in the business. “I love the idea that I have this longevity,” she says, “because I do think in this industry there is something to be said for still being around. I don’t know about relevancy per se, but I definitely am stubborn enough to be in the game still.” Art Southampton runs July 7–11 at 60 Millstone Road, Bridgehampton