‘Parrish Perspectives: New Works in Context’ on exhibit in Water Mill

March 23, 2017

by Steve Parks

Parrish Art Museum curator Alicia Longwel with a work featured in the exhibition “Parrish Perspectives: New Works in Context,” Sheila Isham’s “Cosmic Flight,” 1987. The show runs through April 23, 2017. (Credit: Alana Mercurio)


In case you were wondering what the Parrish Art Museum has been up to behind the scenes since the celebrated opening of its new space in 2012, check out “Parrish Perspectives: New Works in Context.” While most of the Parrish’s skylight-filled galleries in Water Mill have been devoted to special themed exhibits and greatest hits from its permanent collection, “Perspectives” features recent additions to the Parrish’s impressive collection of East End-related art.

The exhibit provides a glimpse into curatorial decisions that go into building a collection, not to mention a first-time view of 70 works of art among more than 300 acquired — nearly all by donation — since the Parrish’s relocation. These include paintings by Jennifer Bartlett, Theodore Stamos, Lindsay Morris and the late Water Mill neighbors Jane Freilicher and Jane Wilson, plus sculptures by Bill King, plaster figures by Elie Nadelman and a Larry Rivers drawing.


“Moving here to this greatly enhanced space is what inspired collectors to donate more than they had in the past,” says Alicia Longwell, chief curator of the museum and of this exhibit. “We had no dedicated space in our former home to display our permanent collection,” now exceeding more than 3,000 works dating from 1833 to the present. “With our new home, donors have a reasonable expectation that the works will be seen, instead of remaining in a vault.”

One collector, Richard Kirshenbaum of Manhattan and Sagaponack, said of the Rivers “Dutch Masters” drawing he donated, “I just felt it belonged here.” The late artist was a longtime Southampton resident.

The museum space itself represents what could be a large-scale artist’s studio — a renovated barn with natural light from the north — which, Longwell says, has “really prompted people to think about sharing their art with the community.”


The exhibit is divided into four contextual themes. “Representing Abstraction,” writes Longwell in the exhibit text panels, “reveals the way in which artists explore how the physical and philosophical universe is perceived” — ranging from layers of abstract grid in Ati Maier’s “More” to Malcolm Morley’s photo-inspired paintings.

“Humor and Irony” is evident in King’s “Untitled (Male Figure),” evoking the ancient and the modern, along with Nadelman’s series of figurines (all female) that are a cross between Kewpie dolls and mythological goddesses.

“Face to Face” reflects artists’ interpretive portraiture, from Tina Barney’s photos of children on the brink of adolescence to Joe Zucker’s “Ravenswood Series” laced with such personal icons as a martini glass and a pet cat. “Horizon Lines” features art that freezes a moment in time as in Jane Wilson’s “Near Midnight” or Renate Aller’s Atlantic Ocean photos shot from the same vantage point over the years.

You have an opportunity to see and hear “The Curator’s View” Friday evening March 24, strolling through the exhibit while sharing your thoughts with her. Says Longwell, “I really try to make it a conversation.”

Renate Aller, “Ocean | Desert # 60, Atlantic Ocean, November 2013”
archival pigment print, 59” x 91”


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