Fine and Dandy

Left: Dealer Andrea Glimcher with artist Chuck Close. Right: Parrish Art Museum director Terrie Sultan with Anke Jackson and Helen Warwick. (All photos: Owen Hoffmann/Patrick McMullan)

RECOUNTING THE HORRORS of public transit to the Hamptons for New York magazine, Caroline Bankoff paints an unappealing picture in which drunkenness, entitlement, and self-absorption form an unholy trinity. The whimsically named Jitney—aka the bus—at least disallows the first of these, but a neighboring passenger’s irritation at not being able to exchange a crisp hundred-dollar bill for his ticket before anyone else had paid said something about the attitude at large as I hunkered down for the three-hour trip to Southampton. Once in town, my target was the Parrish Art Museum’s Midsummer Party, the institution’s last annual fundraiser before it ups sticks to a brand new Herzog & de Meuron–designed hangar in nearby Water Mill come November.

I arrived on the early side for the event’s 6:30 PM kick-off—too early even for a look around the museum’s current exhibitions, according to an officious attendant. Of course, people-watching from the sidewalk is not without its appeal in this neck of the woods, where passersby tend to have a degree of polish observed less often in downtown Brooklyn. As it turned out, I wasn’t missing much inside. “The Landmarks of New York” is an extended parade of black-and-white shots picturing, without much poetry, well-known buildings around town, while “Liminal Ground: Adam Bartos Long Island Photographs 2009–2011” (gotta love that superfluous span of dates) is a marginally more engaging selection of color shots celebrating picturesquely shabby local backstreets.

Of course, art is just something to look at while waiting for the hors d’oeuvres at an event like this, but fashion is perhaps a more effective diversion. Among the distinctively decked out at the Parrish were National Arts Club curator Stacy Engman in a voluminous golden brocade number, local artist Kevin Berlin in a top hat (worn without clear irony), and socialite Di Mondo in a suit that looked to have been illustrated by John James Audubon. There were a lot of enhanced figures poured into flowing pink and orange gowns, and a lot of überpreppy affectations of the fuchsia socks–and-braces variety that would be a distinctly risky choice on Main Street, USA (or anywhere). Honoree Chuck Close seemed, worryingly, to have hit the town in his PJs again—a tribute, perhaps, to the original millionaire art lounge lizard, Julian Schnabel.

Left: The Midsummer Party. Right: National Arts Club curator Stacy Engman.

After a chat over beers with LA artist Andy Moses (son of Ed) about the relative strengths of the West and East Coasts, I took my seat for dinner between Californian Land art pioneer Michelle Stuart and East End photographer John Jonas Gruen. As Stuart and I bonded over a shared appreciation for W. G. Sebald and an abhorrence of nonsocialized health care, Parrish director Terrie Sultan announced that Close, along with director-choreographer Patricia Birch, choreographer Paul Taylor, writer Barbara Goldsmith, guitarist G. E. Smith (absent with a decent excuse—on tour with Roger Waters), and interior designers Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper (luminous in matching white gear), would each have a tree planted in their honor outside the museum’s new premises.

Dinner and speechifying over, the dance floor filled up fast and that familiar wedding-disco embarrassment settled over me again. I don’t mind seeing Pace Gallery’s Marc Glimcher doing Pace Gallery stuff, but I don’t want to watch him pogo. Back in the cocktail tent, more dignified guests made the rounds again; I clocked painters Eric Fischl and Dorothea Rockburne, curator Klaus Kertess, and unvanquishable commentator Anthony Haden-Guest buoyed up by the shrill sea of tycoons and heiresses. Come elevenish, I was ready to roll, and a car home with, among others, Herzog & de Meuron associates Sara Jacinto and Philip Schmerbeck was more than welcome. Had I known that new Knicks point guard Jason Kidd would be arrested that night after wrapping his SUV around a local telephone pole, I might have ducked out sooner yet.