I have been coming to Longhouse, the residence and art habitat founded by textiles designer Jack Lenor Larsen, for longer than I care to admit. I met him through Elle Décor, and was at first a wee bit scared… he took a business lunch in a very casual outfit that was more revealing than I think he realized.
But soon I came to relish any chance to visit this intensely creative preserve he had established east of town in East Hampton. This year’s gala, in a season when the Wall Street crybabies are ruining the summer by not buying tickets or auction items, just lobster salad (and I thought I hated Streeters when they were showing off with their money), was one of the most impressive visually I’ve attended.
For starters, they wisely chose Roberto Dutesco photographs of “Wild Horses of Sable Island” as the opening act. (I’m familiar with Roberto Dutesco’s work because I had two of his photos once for an auction chaired by Sting and sponsored by Calvin Klein. Surprisingly, Donna Karan crossed branding lines and bid furiously and successfully for both pictures while her loyal henchwoman, Patti Cohen, berated me for not having brought the sponsorship opportunity to her first—go figure.)
In a simple yet dramatically effective entry arbor, a 30-foot-high stitched scrim with a projection of one of Dutesco’s romantic photos of a horse was hung above the entrance on the wall. Two smaller, haunting, horsey scrims, curated by Larsen and artist Peter Tunney, echoed the effect elsewhere.
The long tables were bisected by logs (a first for me), which were mounted on little aluminum feet. I’m not a big conservationist; I say it’s way too late to reverse man’s effect on the environment, so why not relax? (Though, conversely, I created a mathematical formula that calculates when the Earth will no longer sustain large-scale human population. The year is 2058—sorry—revised downward just recently due to the depletion of honey bees. Call for details.) I didn’t worry about where the logs came from or where they were headed (the fireplace, dummies) and avoided those who did.
I ran like a zillion art auctions in my day, and this one seemed just right. First, rather than locking themselves in to a lengthy list of live auction items in the program, which could kill any party, they kept an eye on the silent auction bidding, then handed auctioneer George McNeely of Christie’s a list of the hot tickets.
There was a really mixed bag of items—Aalto chairs, ancient Asian textiles, furniture made from (more!) logs, art glass, a striking ceramic ram’s head called “Dream of Africa”—many of which looked like they would disintegrate upon first glance or if touched by bubble wrapping. Yet the auction fulfillment table was calm and cool (disclaimer: my aunt Marcia was a volunteer), which is reassuring when you’ve just dropped 10 G’s on who the hell knows what. (Been there, done that, sadly.) But this was nice stuff and I’m jealous I came home empty-handed.