In the Hamptons, Few Party-Goers Will Admit to Playing Pokemon

  • At LongHouse Reserve party, guests focus on real surroundings
  • One guest hopes to find ‘water-oriented Pokemon’ at the beach

Do you play Pokemon Go?

"Excuse me? No," Nico Muhly, the composer of contemporary classical music, said Saturday night. "What an absurd question. What on earth is wrong with you?"

Muhly, 34, had just performed at the annual benefit for LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, his concert hall a lawn, after a day of practicing and dodging sprinklers to keep cool in the heat.

Nico Muhly performs.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Soon he’d be sitting for dinner under the stars next to the artist Cindy Sherman, where the conversation turned to cars (she recently bought a Tesla), chickens (she has five, which she spoils by giving them diced pancetta to lure them back to their coop) and SoHo (her first advertising commission in the ’80s was from a fashion boutique there owned by Dianne Benson, LongHouse’s president and the driving force of the benefit).

Nico Muhly and Cindy Sherman

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Muhly’s lack of interest in Nintendo’s mobile gaming sensation was shared by other partygoers. None were spotted wandering around the grass, scanning the scene with their phones to look for virtual creatures -- perhaps out of politeness, though most were keen to disassociate themselves from the fad.

Nathaniel Felsher and Gigi Kukhta

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

"I’m resisting it," said Michael Rubenstein, president of AppNexus, a Manhattan-based technology company with an advertising platform, as he walked toward the lap pool. After all, coming out to the East End is supposed to be about "getting off of my phone."

"Haven’t tried it, and I never will," said artist Scott Bluedorn, whose drawing series "Forbidden Islands" was featured in the Parrish Art Museum show "Radical Seafaring," which closed Sunday.

"I like real time and space," said architect Lee Skolnick, who designed the DiMenna Children’s History Museum at the New-York Historical Society and serves on LongHouse’s board.

All of which is fine by Matko Tomicic, executive director of LongHouse.

"I don’t want it here," Tomicic said of Pokemon Go. "I like this place to be tranquil."

Instead of Pokemon, the party offered telescopes set up by the Montauk Observatory, through which guests gazed on Saturn.

The home designed after an Ise shrine.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

LongHouse is the creation of textile artist Jack Lenor Larson, 89. It contains his home, modeled after the Ise Grand Shrine in Japan, as well as acres of landscapes dotted with sculptures, like a geodesic dome by Buckminster Fuller, "The Arch of Life" by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, and Dale Chihuly cobalt reeds.

Sounds like a Pokemon-seekers’ paradise. But to its supporters, LongHouse is a refuge of art, nature and design.

Michael Sonnenfeldt, left, with his son, Forest Sonnenfeldt and Emily Levy

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

"There are few places like this in the world," said Michael Sonnenfeldt, founder of Tiger21, a membership group for wealthy individuals.

Larson said he never had a master plan. "It’s a vision. I dreamed about it at night. It’s about nuance and understatement," he said.

Benefits, of course, are not subtle affairs. Guests dressed in glittery attire to adhere to the theme "Serious Moonlight." Many raised their hands over the meal Alice Waters inspired to donate money to support scholarships for creative children.

Martha Stewart introduced the honorees, sisters Molly Chappellet and Luanne Wells, with a personal touch. She called Chappellet a "secret mentor," noting her skill gardening the rocky soil of Napa Valley’s Pritchard Hill, where she and her husband founded a vineyard. Her spark with Wells, meanwhile, comes from a love of animals, especially their miniature donkeys.

Lys Marigold, Dianne Benson and Angela Mariana Freyre

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Then Larson surprised Benson by announcing that she too was an honoree this year. He said he’d never been successful at fundraising until she arrived with her "smarts and savvy."

There was at least one Pokemon Go enthusiast in the crowd: freelance stylist Phoebe Miller, 24, a New York City player who was hoping to discover some rare Pokemon in the Hamptons, provided her cell phone reception was strong enough. (Unfortunately, it wasn’t at LongHouse.)

Phoebe Miller

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

"The environment by the beach -- there could be more water-oriented Pokemon, like seahorses, versus ones you’d see in the city which are generally rats and pigeons," Miller said.

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