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Hamptons Report: The Art of the Beach…and Bring Me the Head of Caesar!

The Parrish Art Museum's Midsummer Party
The Parrish Art Museum's Midsummer Party
Photo: Blanche Williamson

It had been years since I’d been to Parrish Art Museum or its annual Midsummer Party, so when I was at the event last Saturday, I went to the rear entrance, thinking I could stroll through the statuary of the 18 Caesars. If you’ve never seen this small but majestic garden, you are missing out. 

But alas, one of the marble busts is missing! Was it stolen? Vandalized? Out for cleaning? I wish there was at least a sign. If anyone has any information about the missing Caesar, please let me know so I can sleep. [The museum's director of public relations confirmed that the missing bust is currently in conservation. —Ed.]

For as many years as I can remember, my friend Debbie Bancroft has either chaired or worked tirelessly for this art repository, so I wondered if I’d see her. Sure enough, there she was, dutifully shaking the hand of every guest, including me, as if they were her nearest and dearest. I like it when people do that, don’t you?

In the galleries, which are deceptively large, I was delighted that the exhibit, dubbed “Sand: Memory, Meaning, and Metaphor,” was all about the beach. Half of the artwork was made of sand (hence the title). So right for the season. Bill Cunningham took a picture of almost every installation; maybe you’ll see them in The Times this weekend.

But the real revelations were the cocktails and dinner tents, designed by Antony Todd Inc. Both were big and roomy, and, better still, dark and cool.

The cocktail tent was awash in yellow and orange with bamboo and palm trees everywhere. It straddles the museum’s existing outdoor fountain—which I always thought of as dinky, but the set-up made it seem like a cozy center. Everything appeared to be working—waiters were waiting, guards were directing and guarding (no drinks in the galleries, please), and the endless bar seemed always to have a free bartender. 

I forget what snacks they were passing, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t good.

The dinner tent was more of the same, only more—and more is more at a Southampton gala, right? More trees between every table. Even though the tent was huge, you forgot you were on Main Street, steps away from gaudy dress shops, aggressive weekenders, and the unending battle of the parking killers. More gurgling water? I wanted to lie down in the grass.

I forgot my camera, and Susan Murphy, my faithful friend, tried a few snaps, but it wasn’t until professional Blanche Williamson came along that I was confident I’d capture the cool and greenery of it all. Take a look and wish you were there, and next year buy a ticket.

On the way out people said goodbye as if they meant it. If I gave stars, this would get them all. But I don’t. Should I start?