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Parrish Art Museumís Midsummer Party Quite The Bacchanal

Originally Posted: July 18, 2010

Douglas MacKaye Harrington

Honoree Ross Bleckner, Congressman Tim Bishop, honoree Beth Rudin DeWoody and Parrish Director Terrie Sultan. (Douglas Harrington)

NYS First Lady Michelle Paterson at the Parrish Midsummer Party.

Southampton - Considered one of "the" parties of the Hamptons season, the Parrish Art Museum's Midsummer Gala brings out old money and new, celebrities and politicians, merchants and artists, both young and old in support of one of the oldest and most influential cultural institutions in the East End.

This year was no different as between the gala and after party over 1,000 supporters turned out to raise $700,000 for a museum that can trace it roots back to 1897 and its original founder Samuel Longstreth Parrish (1849-1932). The museum has changed dramatically since it founding, but the passion for this institution has not diminished over its storied history.

It is a history that is about to experience its most dramatic change as the Parrish will soon begin construction of its $25 million new museum at its future location in Water Mill. It will undoubtedly change the complexion of Southampton forever and was indeed the central topic of conversation at this year's gala.

Director Terrie Sultan with world renowned American artist and Hamptons resident Chuck Close.

This year's honorees were art patron/curator Beth Rudin DeWoody and artist Ross Bleckner, both are also humanitarians, philanthropists and ardent supporters of the Parrish. DeWoody serves as a trustee of the Whitney Museum, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and New Yorkers for Children, a charity of which she is a founding member. For his part Blecker was the youngest artist ever to have a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim and his paintings are in collections throughout the world. He also serves on the board of AIDS Community Research Initiative of America and his work with Ugandan children has garnered him the honor of being the only artist ever to be named as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador.

The evening began with an arrival reception in the museum itself amid the art of its present exhibition "Rackstraw Downes: Onsite Paintings 1972-2008" and a step and repeat for the notables in attendance. Many notable Parrish supporters and patrons indeed as attendees included Congressman Tim Bishop, NYS First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson, Whitney and James Fairchild, Jay McInerney, Donna Karan, James and Charlene Nederlander, Rufus Wainwright, Nicole Miller, Darren Star, Maurice DuBois, Isaac Mizrahi, Ira and Gale Drukier, Philip Isles and Adam and Lenore Sender, among many others.

Fashion designer and Parrish supporter Donna Karan.

Artists in attendance included Billy Sullivan, whose special portrait of the honorees graced the cover of the gala invitation, Chuck Close, April Gornik, Michele Oka Donner and Michael Combs, to name but a very few.

After the cocktail hour guests entered the dinner tent for a fabulous meal prepared by Glorious Foods Catering and the awards ceremony and remarks. This year's benefit co-chairs were Deborah Bancroft and Dorothy Lichtenstein, both acknowledged by Parrish Museum Director Terrie Sultan during her opening remarks.

Touching and at times humorous introductions of the honorees were delivered by Anne Pasternak, President and Artistic Director of Creative Time, in the case of DeWoody and artist Eric Fischl in the case of his dear friend of 40 years Bleckner. Clearly moved, the honorees eloquently accepted their awards and acknowledged the impact and importance of the Parrish in both their lives and the life of the community.

Novelist Jay McInerney, seated next to benefit co-chair Deborah Bancroft, checks the vintage during dinner.

Following dinner the 10 p.m. after-party officially started and attendees danced in the dinner tent to the music of DJ Tom Finn and feasted on scrumptious desserts in the cocktail tent. The bacchanal lasted long into the night with the last of the party goers leaving at around 1 a.m.

An extraordinary evening in support of an extraordinary art and cultural institution whose year-round line-up of events includes not only art exhibitions but music, dance, theatre, lectures and educational programs for both young and old. The Parrish Art Museum is a rare and precious jewel in the diverse cultural necklace that is the Hamptons.

For more information go to www.parrishart.org.

Frequently mistaken for the "Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials and the iconic gray-bearded Sean Connery, DMH is the Senior Contributing Editor at Hamptons.com. www.hamptons.com Hamptons HamptonsOnline HamptonsOnline

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