The best summer memories are often the private family ones. But that does not make a column. Fortunately for this scribe, and for you, the East End spews out two of the most reportable events of the summer: colorful, important, glamorous and unique. I speak of course (and yes, again), of both the Midsummer Party at the Parrish Art Museum and Robert Wilson’s 23rd annual Watermill Center Summer Benefit & Auction.
Art seems to coalesce the ingredients for a great party: creative design, eclectic costumes, the collectors and collected, and a general sense of artistic abandon. At least that’s what it does for me. The Midsummer Party at the Parrish brings together all that in the still newish and much admired Herzog & de Meuron–designed building. This year, the exhibit “Radical Seafaring” inspired Ron Wendt Design’s rope-strewn tables and fluttering sails overhead. The entire museum served as inspiration for Jonah Bokaer’s inaugural “Platform” exhibit, combining choreography, art and film. Barbara Slifka was honored for her philanthropy, and when Robert Wilson began his introduction with yips, woofs and barks, I reminded my dinner partner, Eric Fischl, that she is a board member of the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. Emily Mortimer and Alessandro Nivola were honorary chairs, and had special connections to the museum—his sculptor grandfather, Constantino, is in the permanent collection, and their children participate in the children’s programs. A rousing auction featured a private Jean-Georges dinner at Topping Rose and a Bulgari Lucea watch. A bevy of artists always support their institution, among them this year Geoffrey Bradfield, Alice Aycock, April Gornik, Donald Sultan, Donald Lipski, Dorothea Rockburne, Clifford Ross, Malcolm Morley and Bryan Hunt. And many of the guests are also artistically inclined: Nicole Miller (fashion), Ala Isham (art into fashion), Billy Rayner (watercolors), Dorothy Lichtenstein (living art) Jimmy and Margo Nederlander (theater), and more: Chad Leat, Veronica Atkins, Peter Haveles, Fred and Robin Seegal and Parrish director Terrie Sultan.
Creativity peaked at Robert Wilson’s 23rd Annual Watermill Center Summer Benefit & Auction, this year appropriately titled FADA: House of Madness. The largest crowd ever coursed through the famed outdoor installations, this year including feathered fellows titled “Angels of Apocalypse” accompanied by Oscar-nominated Anohni “sounds,” Pussy Riot’s “Make America Great Again” reacting installation and John Margarita’s one-ton water tank, containing a very game gent in a Speedo, held down by weights. Suffice to say, there was no dearth of dinner topics, not that supper slowed it down. Norwegian performer Tori Wrånes was lowered from the tent ceiling, undulating and emitting lovely noises. Auctioneer Simon de Pury, emanating perhaps a little less lovely, provided highly effective noise, resulting in $1 million toward the $2 million raised. And, as if in contrast, the demure honoree, Giancarla Berti, was introduced by a beaming Bob. While Kanye West postponed his appearance till next year, rapper Ja Rule performed what I’m sure is your favorite ditty, “Put It on Me”, and DJ Mia Moretti spun. Among the stimulated crowd: Shaikha Paula Al Sabah; Katharina Otto-Bernstein and Nathan Bernstein and their boys, Joni and Nicky; Anne Hearst McInerney and Jay McInerney, Carola and Bob Jain, Carol Mack, Kim Heirston Evans and Richard Evans, Kelly Behun and Jay Sugarman, Audrey and Martin Gruss, Kathy (in a clever, 100-percent-humidity-defying turban) and Rick Hilton, Inga Maren Otto and Holly Peterson.