When it was announced philanthropist Agnes Gund had sold a Lichtenstein and earmarked $100 million of the proceeds to promote criminal justice reform, we thought of all the Parrish Art Museum Midsummer Parties at which we had seen Gund and Roy Lichtenstein’s widow, Dorothy. Had the painting been bought from one friend to the other? We fantasized. “Agnes Gund is obviously a very close friend of Dorothy Lichtenstein,” Parrish Chairman of the Board and evening Co-chair Fred Seegal told us at this weekend’s Parrish bash, honoring Gund and artist Clifford Ross. “One of the things that’s great is people like Dorothy, who’ve been with the museum forever, are still with us,” he said.
“Dorothy is on the board with me,” said forever supporter Debra Bancroft. “I’ve known her for a long time and I’ve met Aggie through the years. To me, Aggie’s not just an art goddess but a morality goddess, an extraordinary woman. And Dorothy’s the same way. She’s so involved in stem cell research, women’s choice and things that matter way beyond art.”
In fact, Gund acquired the painting in the 70s from a California collector’s estate, Lichtenstein told us, adding, “I think what she’s doing is wonderful. [Criminal justice reform] is one of the most important issues of our times. I mean mass incarceration is really horrible: It’s a continuation of slavery!”
Yet our Attorney General wants more people in jail and is looking to turn back the clock on decriminalizing marijuana. “Talk about stiffening the drug and the prison laws!” Dorothy sniffed. “That is the crime: Jeff Sessions. So, Aggie is there whenever there’s injustice.”
As is Dorothy, with her support for stem cell research. “These are really important matters that our government doesn’t support,” Lichtenstein said. “So, it’s important, if one can, to give support.”
We asked Parrish Curator of Special Projects Corinne Erni about this year’s Platform Artist and Honoree Clifford Ross’s Light | Waves installation. “Platform is our annual program of the Parrish where we invite an artist to engage with the building and the nature, so that people can see art in different ways,” she explained. “Clifford has had a longtime fascination with waves. He started photographing hurricane waves in the 90s. Only recently, he started applying the prints on maple veneer wood panels he hand selects. He creates a really nice contrast of the crispness and sharpness of the photograph with the warm and grainy wood. We have six large scale prints of his hurricane waves in the double wide galleries.”
The exhibition also includes a new medium Clifford has been experimenting with. “He also started creating artificial waves through LED and computer generated video programs. The first one is here in the lobby. There is a double LED wave on the outside wall as well. So you can see it as you drive by. I think this creates a very nice interaction of the museum with a very important element out here, which is water and the ocean. You see it inside and outside. He also wanted to recreate that feeling of standing in the water and capturing those hurricane waves. It also makes you think about the ocean as a resource that is threatened and can be threatening.”
Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, and Dorothy Lichtenstein were Honorary Chairs. Museum Director Terrie Sultan hosted this year’s Midsummer soiree, which raised more than $1.25 million.
The museum was the recipient of a $500,000 gift by Agnes Gund creating a new initiative: the Dorothy Lichtenstein ArtsReach Fund, established by Agnes Gund. Dorothy Lichtentstein, a Life Trustee of the Parrish, contributed an additional $100,000 to the Fund. The initiative recognizes that the Parrish serves a year-round community that encompasses the social injustices that pervade our society, addressing this inequity through the artist’s voice. ArtsReach will, with a renewed sense of urgency, engage in dialogue with local communities, collaborate on focused, meaningful programming both at the museum and beyond, and foster the community in the broadest sense to transcend geographic, racial, and socioeconomic barriers, affirming the power of art to transform lives and challenge prevailing narratives.
Parrish Art Museum is located at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information, call 631-283-2118 or visit parrishart.org.