- East Hampton’s Guild Hall caters to wide range of NYC tastes
- Gala draws art world and debuts new executive director Grover
It’s the Lincoln Center, the Carolines comedy club and a wing of MoMA in the Hamptons. It also brings a bit of Broadway and the 92nd Street Y. It’s Guild Hall, a quintessential cultural venue in the country.
It’s the place Louis C.K. called up to book two surprise shows to try out new material -- the second night with Jerry Seinfeld in tow as opening act. And that was during the off-season of November.
In that almost too-charming theater -- with its blue- and white-striped circus tent of a ceiling -- performers during the summer months have included Blythe Danner, Steve Martin, the New York Philharmonic and the New York City Ballet.
This weekend, the old-fashioned sign boards with their retro, hand-arranged black letters will tout Leslie Odom Jr., the Tony-winning Aaron Burr of “Hamilton," performing Saturday night. On Monday, Alec Baldwin is set to moderate a (sold out) panel on the Supreme Court, part of a series on presidential politics.
The big exhibition of the season, “Aspects of Minimalism,” opened last weekend. Largely drawn from the collection of Barnes & Noble founder Leonard Riggio, here are intimate encounters with Dan Flavin light sculptures and paintings by Gerhard Richter and Blinky Palermo.
The stature of the programming draws supporters of stature. The crowd at Guild Hall’s Summer Gala on Aug. 12, which offered the first look at the minimalism exhibition, naturally featured art world players like Lisa Phillips, director of the New Museum; Brett Littman, executive director of the Drawing Center; and gallery owners David Zwirner and Helene Winer. Collectors Michael Lynne and Barbara Lane were chairmen of the auction, which included works by Robert Motherwell, Ed Ruscha, Vik Muniz and Dustin Yellin.
Attending the gala were artists Eric Fischl, April Gornik, Chuck Close, Cindy Sherman and a newcomer to the scene, Arcmanoro Niles, who lives in Brooklyn and participated in Guild Hall’s first artist-in-residence program this year. The residencies were made possible by the purchase of a five-bedroom house on Dunemere Lane in East Hampton.
After seeing the show, guests moved to Mulford Farm for a reception and dinner. Under a tent decorated with Flavin-esque colored lights, Fischl and Sherman lauded collector Neda Young for her support of artists. Young in turn praised Ruth Appelhof, executive director of Guild Hall for 17 years, for her inability to accept “no" as an answer (including when she asked Young to be honored and when she helped raise $15 million for a capital campaign). It was Appelhof’s final gala as executive director; she is returning to a book project about Lee Krasner.
As he greeted guests at his very long table, it was clear Marty Cohen has settled into his role as chairman of Guild Hall, a post he started almost three years ago. One of his chief pleasures is building a sense of community around the institution: He and his wife have hosted many dinners at their home, conveniently located down the street from Guild Hall, where patrons mingle with artists on their ample back porch.
Cohen said his first big move was pushing to buy that house for artists (both for a residency program and to put up performers during the summer). He’s also keen on adding late-night programming like the Louis C.K. shows, which started at 10 p.m.
As for helping to choose a new executive director: At the gala, Cohen introduced and spoke enthusiastically about the board’s pick: Andrea Grover, plucked from her job as curator at the Parrish Art Museum in nearby Water Mill. Grover has founded a nonprofit cinema in Houston, and documented the rise of hacker culture and computational art while on a fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Grover, who starts on Sept. 1, cheekily told the gala crowd that she’s going to change nothing and everything, and has only one firm agenda item so far: picking out flooring to replace the carpets in the galleries.