Parrish Art Museum | Artists Choose Artists 2013

Mel Kendrick, Parrish Art Museum

Mel Kendrick, Untitled, 2013

What could be more intriguing than a show where artists select artists?

Such a format allows for us not only to see new artists and their work alongside their jurors, but also to see the combined curatorial vision of the museum and the artists. Putting on an artist-selected exhibition seems particularly fitting for the Parrish Art Museum; as the institutional representation of the vast-reaching yet closely-knit artistic hub that makes up the East End.

Conceived in 2009, the Parrish Art Museum’s Artists Choose Artists show began with 300 online submissions and a panel of artist jurors—Laurie Anderson, Judith Hudson, Mel Kendrick, David Salle, Ned Smyth, Keith Sonnier and Robert Wilson. From that initial group of seven, each chose two; thus including: Don Christensen, Christine Sciulli, Elise Ansel, Carol Hayes, Virva Hinnemo, Koichiro Kurita, Rick Liss, Rossa Cole, Brian Gaman, Tucker Marder and Ezra Thompson.

David Salle’s “Syrie (Yellow),” and “Syrie (Pink),” both 2013, are among the first encounters. Painterly and confident, both versions of Syrie demonstrate Salle’s mastery of the figure in a certain coolness that brushes up against Alex Katz but departs stylistically in that Salle’s zoomed-in and high-contrast figures are both more confrontational and the temperature is much warmer.

In an adjoining gallery, thematically organized around “American Home Life,” we enter a world with a mildly disturbing sound coming from Robert Wilson’s video with performance artist William Pope and a little lamb puppet who hauntingly sings “Mary had a little Me” over and over again, with an extended and off-key “meeeeee” in utter contrast to the crib-mobile-like instrumental. Directly across from the screen is Tucker Marder’s “Mantel,” in which two ducks were photographed in that typical blue-backdrop we all endured for yearbook portraits and placed over a creamy-yellow faux-fireplace mantel. From the mantel upward, shelves expand, making a V-shape; each shelf longer than the one below it, and each one fitting more of these framed photographs. Methodic and structured, one duck’s photographs are aligned on the left and the other on the right. Beneath the mantel is a hooked rug, the kind you see near sinks or near doors, with two ducks on it. The installation is simultaneously very kitsch and entirely original.

Entering another space, a photograph by Ned Smyth, “Portrait 5,” 2013, stuns. One of a series of rock “portraits,” the enlarged, highly defined image of a stone inspires as the mundane (a typical, unpolished granite rock), is revealed in its beauty—a topographic landscape made up of grooves and differences in elevation—simply upon closer observation. Natural materials are mirrored in works by Rossa Cole—whereby found materials, like twigs and sticks, are the media for eco-centric designs such as “Roundhouse Half Timber Frame Eco House,” 2010. The dollhouse size allows for self-envisioning in a home that would rely on solar panels. Mel Kendrick’s sculptures echo the organic shapes in Smyth’s photographs, the use of wood in Cole’s and the black and white/grey palette of Elizabeth Dow’s vertical works. Kendrick’s shapes are studies in positive and negative space. In “Untitled,” 2012, curvilinear negative-space shapes are carved out from a wooden square and the inverted positive image is recreated and stacked right above it. In the positive image, the shapes are painted white, further questioning which is positive and which is negative.

Other compelling works in the exhibition include Koichiro Kurita’s, “Dark Cloud (Nagano, Japan series from Chi Suiki),” 1987, whereby hair-like grass rolls over a hill with fluidity, while ominous clouds move in an opposite direction, creating a moment of suspension along the horizon line, an installation of designs painted on wooden benches by Don Christensen and two spectacular examples of recent neon-light works by Keith Sonnier.

Concurrent with the exhibition is a documentary film in the Lichtenstein Theater showing the artists in their studios—a personal glimpse inside their creative process that enhances the experience of viewing their work on museum walls and ties together the overarching appreciation for the continuum of artistic creation on the East End.

Artists Choose Artists will be on view through January 19, 2014. The Parrish Art Museum is located at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. Call 631-283-2118 or visit

Continue Reading

Thomas Moran at Guild Hall

There must be something innately human that causes that standstill moment of awe upon seeing something astounding in nature. Late autumn sunsets with their pink and violet streaks across the sky and that bright orange ball filtering through tree branch silhouettes evoke powerful, emotional responses. Landscape painters—from the Dutch Jacob van Ruisdale, figurehead of the Golden Age of painting in the Netherlands, to those of our Hudson River School sought to capture this same intensity using oil on canvas. Thomas Moran (1837–1926), is one such artist. A member of the Hudson River School and of the Rocky Mountain School of landscape painters, Moran is currently featured at Guild Hall in an exhibition titled “Tracing Moran’s Romanticism & Symbolism.” Curated by Phyllis Braff, co-editor of the Thomas Moran Catalogue Raisonée, the selected paintings include several painted in East Hampton, where Moran designed and built his studio in 1884.

Depictions of East Hampton date back to 1878, upon his first visit, which inspired many of his etching motifs. One such etching, a magnificent example, is “The Resounding Sea,” 1880, part of Guild Hall’s permanent collection. Small and intricate, the etching gave the image, the stormy sea on one of East Hampton’s beaches, recognition through wide distribution, as explained in text beside the artwork. Next to the etching is a much larger version of the image painted in oil, titled, “The Much Resounding Sea,” dating to 1884 and belonging to the collection of the National Gallery of Art. In dark blues, greens and black, the angry ocean churns, throwing waves this way and that—splashes of white emerge where they crash—making for a distinctly East End beach scene. The exhibition explains that ocean waves symbolized a constantly renewing force; conceivable for anyone who has jumped in and emerged anew or for those who have stood there and witnessed the continuum in amazement. The title comes from a passage from the Iliad, “boiling billows of the much resounding sea, swollen, whitened with foam.”

Other titles also reveal Moran’s interest in literature and poetry. “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,” a majestic painting from 1859, greets you when you first enter the gallery space. The title comes from Robert Browning’s poem, appropriated from Shakespeare’s King Lear. English Romantic poets, and their American counterparts, play a role in Moran’s subject matter; most of which reveals a deep appreciation for nature and the vastness of Earth. The occasional figure sits small in comparison to the dramatic mountains and valleys before him. In 1872, after acceptance into the Yellowstone Territory with the U.S. Geological Survey Expedition, geologists used Moran’s watercolors to get Congressional approval for Yellowstone as the first National Park.

Scenes like “Glimpse of the Sea, Near Amagansett, L.I.,” 1909, bring about that same type of longing for land preservation on the East End. A vibrant, orange sun sets over the ocean, in a sky of purple leading into a quintessential late summer sky, pale blue with warm tones from the sun reflecting in the drifting clouds. A tiny, lone figure makes his way down a sandy path through a pastoral field, with tall trees in the dunes to the left. The asymmetrical composition adds intrigue and creates a circle, drawing the viewer in to take part in reflection on this incredible landscape.

Landscape continues at Guild Hall with “Landscape Selections from the Permanent Collection,” featuring works by Jimmy Ernst, Robert Dash, April Gornik, Jeff Muhs, Paul Georges and many other well-known East End artists. Both exhibitions are on view through January 5.

A Gallery Talk will be given on Sunday, November 10, also at 2 p.m., with Christina Massaides Strassfield, museum director and chief curator, on the exhibition “Landscape Selections from the Permanent Collection.”

The Museum at Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton and is open Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Call 631-324-0806 or visit

Published in Dan’s Papers, 11/6/13:

Continue Reading