November 14, 2012

New Parrish Gets Big Welcome

(click for larger version)
Thousands of people both young and old gathered in Water Mill for the opening of the new Parrish Art Museum on Montauk Highway this past weekend.

Parents, children, residents and tourists came out to feast their eyes on the 14-acre parcel of land with a 34,000 square foot museum housing thousands of paintings, sculptures and multi-media artwork.

Construction on the project began in July 2010 and this weekend was the museum's big debut in the community. Several exhibitions are on display in the galleries and a new cafe is serving food and drinks. Friday and Saturday hosted live entertainment in the Lichtenstein Theater with the legendary Joshua Light Show, a musical tribute to Charles Burchfield by Nell Shaw Cohen, and a performance by the band Gray. On Sunday the museum hosted its annual Fall Family Festival, where children enjoyed face painting and arts and crafts.

This weekend saw nearly 5000 people walking within the horizontal, Herzon & de Meuron designed structure, consisting of two parallel wings joined by a central circulation spine running the length of the building.

The new space offers 4600 square feet for special exhibitions, with 7600 square feet dedicated to the museum's permanent collection. The latter is composed of 2600 works dating back to the 19th century, with some of the pieces never shown on museum walls due to space constraints of the old Jobs Lane facility (which had about a third of the exhibition space of the new museum). And now, with the museum heading into its 115th year, that's all about to change.

The new Parrish is the first art museum built on the East End in over a century, with a budget of $26.2 million, according to a press release from the museum.

"This is going to be a center for cultural engagement of all kinds," said Andrea Grover, Curator of Programs.

The new museum holds 12,200 square feet of exhibition space, a 200-person theatre, and nearly a dozen galleries for exhibitions, broken down into 500, 1000, 2000, and 2500 square foot increments. This will allow for the display of intimate as well as large exhibitions.

The poured-in-place concrete walls are deeply recessed under a long, white corrugated metal roof, incorporating large sections of glass permitting views through the museum and into the surrounding landscape.

The outside portion of the 14-acre property will include indigenous plantings and tall grass for both the north side and south side "meadows," according to Anke tom Dieck Jackson, the museum's Deputy Director.

"There's a great efficiency to the way in which it's built," said Jackson. "It was really about building a functional space."

Jackson also explained the building is oriented to the north, taking advantage of the light and evoking the notion of the artist's studio, where the conditions were the same as when the work was created.

"It's quite extraordinary to see it filled with people now," Jackson said. "This is truly a wonderful moment for us."

The opening exhibition "Malcolm Morley: Painting, Paper, Process" will be on view through January 13. Morley has maintained a house and studio on eastern Long Island since 1983. The exhibit features the artist's working method of paper mediums, including watercolor, lithography, etching and monotype.

The Parrish Art Museum will be open five days a week from 11 AM to 6 PM, and from 11 AM to 9 PM on Fridays. Closed on Tuesdays.

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