Publish or Parrish

Long Island
08.22.10

Left: “Underground Pop” curator David Pagel with Parrish Art Museum director Terrie Sultan. Right: Artist Glenn Goldberg. (Photos: Ginger Propper)


“YOUR FREE SPIRIT needs a different arena,” says my horoscope in the latest issue of Hamptons magazine. “Think Formentera, not Ibiza; Arles, not St. Tropez.” I was thinking Montauk, not Queens, as I set off for the far side of Long Island last Saturday to take in a couple of seaside exhibitions. Resort art: It’s got to be smaller than a suitcase, lighter than a Segway. Glenn Horowitz Bookseller—a purveyor of rare editions that maintains a dignified distance from the J.Crew and ice cream of downtown East Hampton—was presenting twenty modestly sized works on Peter Saville–designed plinths. Made of foam-core, the columns were shipped flat and assembled by bookstore staff: a portable way of attaining the “transformative energy of the plinth” that, according to a statement released by the bookseller, Saville observed at his 2005 museum retrospective. Indeed, had the works been laid on the floor, it would have been harder to appreciate Richard Prince’s shoe soles, Matthew Higgs’s plaster mound, and Josephine Meckseper’s hosed mannequin haunch. Two artists declined to make objects to set atop the plinths: Tauba Auerbach sent a wedge that pushed her plinth to a precarious tilt, while Nick Relph instructed the store to cut a slot in his, yielding a donation box for a to-be-determined charity. These stood in corners of the office. Turnout was thin. Most of the artists’ weekend itineraries didn’t include the Hamptons, but television personality Bill Powers was there, as was Will Cotton, whose tower of cakes was so lavish it needed a metal stud to prevent the plinth’s collapse.

Next on the agenda was Southampton, for the opening of “Underground Pop” at the Parrish Art Museum. What with traffic on Rte. 27, I arrived at the Parrish only as the crowd of silver-haired, white-shoed guests spilled out, to partake of hors d’oeuvres and live music on the lawn. But a brisk walkthrough was enough to grasp curator David Pagel’s thesis: handicrafts, knickknacks, and souvenirs could fit the same slot in Pop art as mass-produced kitsch. Glenn Goldberg’s quiltlike paintings and Leia Jervert’s spectral wreath and trellis were striking, but the show was dominated by the bold lines and colors of James Gobel’s portraits of girlish, bearish men, inlaid with felt and yarn. (A little girl pet them when she thought no adults were watching.) The security guards started turning off the lights, and I made for the lawn, where I chatted with Lina, a local artist who said she worked with model trains. She may have been the most underground one there. Anxious not to miss my ride back to the city, I left the Parrish as the quartet struck up variations on Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” and darkness fell over the Hamptons.

Brian Droitcour