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Women’s History Month Kicks Off At The Parrish Art Museum Representing Diverse Generations, Cultures, And Practices

Sydney A. Braat

Kusama at Orez. (Photo: © Harrie Verstappen)

The Parrish Art Museum is presenting three programs featuring women artists of diverse generations, cultures, and artistic practices in honor of Women's History Month. On Friday, March 8, Mary Heilmann and Mel Kendrick will give a talk on fellow artist Louisa Chase; on Sunday, March 24, the Water Mill-based Museum will screen a film on Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, followed by a conversation with Parrish Director Terrie Sultan and collection artist John Torreano; and on Friday, March 29, German-born artist Bastienne Schmidt will be in conversation with Sultan and sign her new book, Grids and Threads.

"This is a terrific lineup of women artists who have a connection to the Parrish," said Corinne Erni, Senior Curator of ArtsReach and Special Projects. "I much look forward to an illuminating discourse about what it means to work as a woman artist today."

The first event, Artist to Artist: Mary Heilmann and Mel Kendrick on Louisa Chase, will feature internationally acclaimed artists Mary Heilmann and Mel Kendrick. The duo will discuss the life and work of their friend and fellow artist, Louisa Chase (American, 1951-2016), whose work is on view in Louisa Chase: Below the Surface. The survey features 18 paintings and works on paper dating from 1972-2011 by the artist. Chase provided a view into the diary of her inner life through the bold use of color in her abstract works. Below the Surface includes Yellow Spooks, 1986; and Untitled, 1988, two paintings in the Parrish collection, in a compendium of works on paper and large-scale paintings that provides an in-depth look at the artist's creative approach.

Heilmann ranks among the most influential abstract painters of her generation; her practice overlays the analytical geometries of Minimalism with the spontaneous ethos of the Beat Generation. She is influenced by 1960s counterculture. Kendrick is primarily known for his sculptural work in wood, bronze, rubber, paper, and cast concrete, which reflects his deep fascination with process, space, and geometry.

The Parrish Art Museum will screen Kusama—Infinity: The Life and Art of Yayoi Kusama (2018, NR, 80 minutes, Director: Heather Lenz) during The Artist's Lens: Kusama—Infinity, a program that includes a conversation by Terrie Sultan and John Torreano, on Sunday, March 24 at 2 p.m.

Yayoi Kusama, born in 1929, is now the top-selling female artist in the world. She has pushed boundaries that often alienated her from both her peers and those in power in the art world. Despite challenges of racism, sexism, and mental illness, Kusama endured. She has created a legacy of artwork that spans the disciplines of painting, sculpture, installation art, performance art, poetry and literary fiction. This film follows the artist's extraordinary trajectory from arriving in New York in 1957 to moving in avant-garde circles that included Donald Judd and Eva Hesse. A precursor to Pop art, Kusama is often considered to have had a major influence on Andy Warhol, one of the most timeless and beloved artists in history.

Attendees will hear from John Torreano in a conversation post-film with Terrie Sultan. Throughout his career, Torreano has investigated the properties of real and fake gemstones and jewels—a metaphor for Vigil lights—in the differing contexts of lighting, placement, and materials. Sultan and Torreano (Director of the MFA Studio Art program at NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development) will discuss Kusama, her work, and her artistic journey.

This screening is part of THAW (The Hamptons Arts Weekend) and The Artist's Lens, a new documentary series on artists co-presented with Hamptons Doc Fest.

Bastienne Schmidt: Grids and Threads, the final part of this Women's History Month celebration, will be on Friday, March 29 at 6 p.m.

Bastienne Schmidt is a Bridgehampton and New York-based multimedia artist who has lived and worked for many years in Greece and Italy. Schmidt explores concepts of identity and place through photography and painting. A former Road Show artist and Artist-in-Residence at the Parrish, her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, and International Center of Photography, New York; and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among many others. She will discuss her artistic practice with Parrish Director Terrie Sultan, followed by a book signing of Grids and Threads - a minimalist meditation on the concept of white space and its perception inspired by Marcel Duchamp's Three Standard Stoppages.

The Parrish Art Museum is located at 279 Montauk Highway, Water Mill. For more information, call 631-283-2118 or visit parrishart.org.

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