LAST FRIDAY, having spent a couple of days in my adopted community of Springs (East Hampton), N.Y., and filled with Long Island pride, I resolved to stop at the Parrish Art Museum on my way back to the city. I’d been sucking up a lot of received opinion (overwhelmingly positive) since the contemporary art museum opened in its long-awaited new digs last November, and I wanted to see for myself.
I liked it, too. The museum relocated from its former cramped quarters in a Victorian brick building in the Village of Southampton to a startlingly elongated shed-like structure with a double hipped roof, set in a vineyard off Montauk Highway in Water Mill. Just looking from the outside at the 34,000-square-foot museum, designed by the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, was enough to give me “museum legs” (that tired feeling you sometimes get from schlepping around looking at art), but in fact, its galleries comprise only 12,000 square feet and are so stimulating and open that it wasn’t fatiguing at all.
I found the art bracing, including the many abstract works, though my conservative preference is for local landscapes and paintings by realist Fairfield Porter and American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. The Parrish has extensive holdings of both in its permanent collection, and each has a dedicated gallery.
Howard Kanovitz’s airbrushed 1974 Hamptons Drive-In is easy enough to appreciate.
Local artist April Gornick’s 1984 Light Before Heat puts me very much in mind of my beloved Louse Point and Accobonac Harbor.
Fairfield Porter’s depiction of rural Calverton, L.I., in the 1950s.
With a pleasant cafe overlooking the grape arbors and an easy-to-swallow admission fee of $10, the Parrish is well worth the stop, coming or going.