Textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen emerged from his house in East Hampton, New York, Saturday night sporting a blue shirt with polka dots and a white cap.
In his gardens, waiters passed basil ice cream cones and lobster rolls. Circus performers juggled, blew bubbles and hula hooped. The occasion was the annual fundraiser for LongHouse Reserve, the 16-acre art and nature retreat that Larsen founded 20 years ago, and where he makes his home.
The nonprofit organization invites the public to tour the grounds and participate in “sound meditation” sessions during the summer season. On this evening, most guests stuck to cocktails and a stroll.
James Watson, co-discoverer of the double-helix structure of DNA, walked past a Buckminster Fuller sphere, and then headed to the pond to view a Dale Chihuly work -- a whimsical tangle of blue and purple glass sticking out of a boat. Watson is a Chihuly collector.
“We have an 18-foot-tall chandelier based on dendrites,” Watson said, referring to a piece that hangs in his laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.
Architect Richard Meier sat on a bench looking through the auction catalog, which included a lithograph he donated, depicting one of his designs.
“I’ve lived in East Hampton for 40 years, and I don’t know anybody here,” Meier said. Later he encountered familiars Robert Menschel, a senior director at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., playwright Edward Albee and theater director and playwright Robert Wilson.
The event honored Chihuly, a college classmate of Larsen’s who was unable to attend, and LongHouse Reserve board member Barbara Slifka, president of the Joseph and Sylvia Slifka Foundation.
“The garden reflects Jack’s personal taste,” said Slifka, the sister of the late financier Alan Slifka, whose sons, Randy, Michael and David were all present.
Before night fell, New York City Ballet dancers Daniel Ulbricht, Rebecca Krohn, Erica Pereira and Amar Ramasar performed in a clearing of the gardens.
“We’re used to dancing on a stage six to seven times smaller than this one, so we’ll just have to jump six to seven times higher,” Ulbricht said. He proceeded to vault to the treetops in George Balanchine’s “Tarantella.”
Over dinner of hen, with a side of corn pudding, Nicholas Lowry of Swann Auction Galleries, his hair dyed blue in keeping with the party’s “White Hot and Blue” theme, conducted an auction.
An original composition by Laurie Anderson went for $4,500; ceramic dinner service for 12 by Yoshiaki Yuki went for $19,000.
Larsen for his part cut through the party hoopla. “Do come back,” he told the 400 guests. “I prefer it without the jazz. That’s the way you’ll find it on any other day of the year.”
The event raised $400,000, LongHouse Reserve publicist Bruna Martins said in an e-mail.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)