I was disappointed when we drove past the new Parrish Museum of Art on our way into East Hampton, but we were too scared to stop. Who knows how heavy the traffic will get on a Friday afternoon? Hopefully we will make it back soon to see it.
East Hampton, when you get there, is lovely. We enjoyed the beach and a beautiful sunset excursion to Shelter Island. Everything in East Hampton is pretty. On Saturday we left the beach early and took in Longhouse Reserve, Jack Lenor Larsen’s jewel of a home, and garden, that has been turned into and art center. It seamlessly combines three of my favorite things – art, design, and garden.
I have seen Mr. Larsen over the years, at openings and events, always wearing a smile, most recently at the NY Botanical Gardens Plant Sale. I even think we have been introduced once or twice. I admire the brand he built and his love of his craft. Larsen was one of the first design brands I was aware of, and my recent residency at Haystack Mountain School of Craft made me aware of his involvement there. He is the man on the deck, weaving, in this famous vintage poster for the school.
At Longhouse, the first thing we encountered was Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome. It set the mood. I love the fact that it exists somewhere between art and design. Its obvious that Mr. Larsen loves it all.
The blurring of boundaries happens again by the lily pond where an installation of Dale Chihuly’s Glass Reeds strike an impossibly intense shade of blue. I don’t even really like Dale Chihuly, but this installation blew my mind.
All around the property there are benches and structures, and you realize it is a collection in and of itself. (I’m sorry, but I did not get all of the designer’s names, but the stainless steel chair is Daniel Libeskind.) I loved the use of the Asian orange-red amongst all the greenery.
And then there is the art. Its a major collection. I think my favorite piece was this fabric totem by Mariyo Yagi, the NAWA Axis for Peace. I love the way the landscape and sculpture are integrated, and the fact that it is made of Sunbrella fabric and just wrapped around a pole is perfect in light of Mr. Larsen’s trade. Plus, it is just so delicious.
There are many spectacular examples around the 16 acre property, but I think my favorite landscape/art integration is Willem de Kooning’s Reclining Figure in front of a very mature weeping Blue Atlas Cedar. Everywhere you look in this garden you see excellent planning and the payoff of time.
Mr. Larsen still lives in the house, and a peek in the window next to the gallery space reveals that the collection continues inside…
Hats off to an amazingly successful career, a deep understanding of art design and craft, and a powerful crossroad of wealth, taste and philanthropy. Thank you Mr. Larsen for sharing your world.