Mixing it Up at the Parrish


By Marianna Levine

Terrie Sultan, the director of the Parrish Art Museum, decided to do something a little different with the museum’s up-coming show, “Mixed Greens: Artists Choose Artists on the East End” which opens with a reception on Saturday April 18 at 6 p.m. Instead of presenting a traditional juried art show she decided to have local artists choose one artist each to co-exhibit with at the Parrish. The end result is a show that is not thematic but rather a mixture of artists working in a variety of media united only by their choice of location, hence the title “Mixed Greens.”

Sultan explains, “I generally don’t like to title exhibits, but I considered how we could describe putting a variety of things together in one show, and also wanted to use the color green since it is my understanding that green is one of the most difficult colors to work with, and I wanted to allude to the difficulty of working and living as an artist.”

The idea of having local artists handpick another perhaps less well-known artist to pair their work with was inspired by a comment Sultan heard artist April Gornik make about how she enjoys the artistic community on the East End, because people have the time and space to work and play together. Sultan tried to think of a way the Parrish could foster that community and facilitate introductions among artists who lived here. In the end, the Parrish decided to put out an open call for submissions from local artists and received over 260 responses. They then asked nine established East End artists to review all of the work.

Sag Harbor resident and artist, Gornik, turned out to be one of the jurors for the exhibit. Having to choose from the large number of submissions turned out to be a daunting task, she explained, but she was extremely happy to be exposed to so much excellent work. “It increased my admiration for the wealth of talent that’s out here.”

Gornik ended up selecting the work of Lucy Winton, in part because she felt Winton’s work hadn’t been given a lot of exposure so far, stating, “The great potential of a show like this is to introduce people to art they might otherwise not be aware of.” However, she also chose Winton’s work, which is primarily figurative, because she was really taken with her use of what Gornik refers to as an “animal consciousness.”

Donald Sultan, another Sag Harbor resident and artist, agrees that being a juror for this show was tough as the amount and quality of the work was so high. He decided to pick Steve Laub, an artist who currently works with shoes and teaches at Rutgers University. Like Gornik he ended up choosing an artist whom he felt could use a little more exposure.  However, Sultan stresses ultimately he went with the work he found the most interesting.

Donald Sultan, who is Terrie Sultan’s brother, enjoyed the selection process stating, “This type of process is more inclusive. It’s a good way for museums not to create hostility but rather to create inclusivity by allowing artists to be more involved in the (selection) process.”

Noyac resident and artist Kevin Teare was one of the nine artists selected to exhibit. He is showing a piece entitled “The Beatles Will Save Us” which is one of several pieces he has created around the concept of the Beatles. Teare explains a lot of his work is about cultural obsessions and clearly the Beatles are the ultimate “cultural Rosetta stone.” He also says he felt drawn to the Beatles as a young student in the 60s because “they were an artier group, but unfortunately a lot of the art related to the Beatles in the past has been pretty bad.”

His work was selected by artist John Torreano. Teare wasn’t familiar with Torreano prior to this endeavor and enjoyed the experience of meeting and working with him on “Mixed Greens.” As a matter of fact, Teare explained that they were selecting the work to be hung in the show together, and trying to relate it to each other’s pieces with the assistance of the show’s curator, Alicia Longwell.

All of the artists are looking forward to the opening party this Saturday (which is open to the public), as they’ll have a chance to see all the work hanging together as well as have a chance to hang out with one another. Three of the jurors will join the three artists they selected in a panel discussion at 6 p.m., followed by a performance by the experimental punk band the xframes. Peter Dayton, one of the artists selected to exhibit, is actually in the band along with artist Jameson Ellis, and Stan Stokowski.

Terrie Sultan, who took over as director of the Parrish Art Museum a year ago says, “I’m looking forward to the show as I’m new out here and I was amazed at the high level of art created in the area. I hope we’ll do this type of show again. Maybe we’ll do it in another three or four years, but I’m still waiting to hear from everyone involved if they liked this process. So we’ll see.”

 “Mixed Greens” will exhibit the works of John Alexander, Michael Combs, Mary Heilmann, Richard Kalina, Michelle Stuart, Joe Zucker, Jessica Benjamin, Randall Rosenthal, Frazer P. Doughterty, Jody Pinto, Ellen Wiener, as well as the artists mentioned above.