On the eastern end of Long Island, New York, lies a trove of art venues and a rich cultural scene to explore at leisure. You can find works in lush gardens and meadows, on manicured lawns, around ponds with waterlilies, by marshy creeks, and in historic Hamptons buildings.
The list of galleries and arts centers has grown longer just in the last few years.
The area, a few hours east of New York City, has drawn artists since the 19th century. It thrives on summer tourism, so the art season kicks off in spring and peaks in late autumn. Indoor and outdoor exhibits change regularly, and some venues are open year-round.
Many also include the performing arts, as well as educational programs.
This 16-acre sculpture garden, museum and nature reserve was founded by the late textile designer and collector Jack Lenor Larsen. His house, inspired by a shrine in Japan and designed by Charles Fourberg, sits near the edge of a waterlily pond. Prominently displayed is Dale Chihuly’s “Cobalt Reeds,” of blue blown glass. At the entrance to a garden sanctuary, you can ring Toshiko Takaezu’s “The Gateway Bell,” of bronze and wood. The resonant sound creates a mindful state. Other works among the nearly 60 on display include Daniel Arsham’s “Bronze Eroded Venus de Milo”; Buckminster Fuller’s “Fly’s Eye Dome,” in fiberglass; Marko Remec’s “Would That I Wish For (Tall Totem),” in mixed media; Jun Kaneko’s glazed ceramic “Dango”; Ai Weiwei’s bronze “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads”; and Sol Lewitt’s minimalist “Irregular Progression High #7.”
POLLOCK-KRASNER HOUSE AND STUDY CENTER
A National Historic Landmark in The Springs, a hamlet in East Hampton, the shingled house overlooking a salt marsh was home to Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock and his wife, artist Lee Krasner. Pollock’s jazz record collection and the artists’ library are intact. Visitors can reserve tickets for a docent-led tour. In the studio, you can walk, in protective slippers, on the paint-splattered floor that preserves Pollock’s footprints and evidence of his most famous poured paintings, created between 1946-52, such as “Autumn Rhythm,” “Blue Poles” and “Convergence.” Preserved and developed by the Stony Brook Foundation, this is immersive, artistic experience.
A Palladian-style building houses the collection of Hungarian-born handbag designer Judith Leiber. On display are elegant, couture handbags made with Swarovski crystals and semi-precious stones, and other accessories, as well as paintings by Leiber’s husband, Gerson Leiber, a modernist artist. An adjoining sculpture garden hosts exhibitions, currently featuring East End artists.
THE WATERMILL CENTER
An interdisciplinary campus with studios for the arts and humanities, open year-round. It sits on 10 acres of Shinnecock ancestral territory with manicured lawns and gardens in Water Mill, New York. The center was founded in 1992 by theater director and visual artist Robert Wilson, and includes a curated art collection, artist residencies and educational programs. Works currently on view include Adam Parker Smith’s “Standing on the Moon,” with sarcophagi in the woods, and a Christopher Knowles exhibition, “Stand.”
PETER MARINO ART FOUNDATION
The Peter Marino Collection includes contemporary and modern art and furniture; Old Master paintings and drawings; antiquities; Renaissance and Baroque bronzes; rare books and more. It opened to the public in Southampton in 2021. Marino, an architect, collected art for over 40 years. There are more than 150 works on display, including, recently, 10 by German artist Anselm Kiefer. Marino purchased the former Rogers Memorial Library, restoring its historical façade and redesigning the interior to showcase his collection. A guided tour is recommended.
The global auction house expanded its business in 2020 to move closer to its New York-based clientele after many wealthy people left New York City because of COVID. The gallery occupies the historic Southampton Town Hall. Works on view include furniture, jewelry, prints and photography, and are available for purchase. Special events and rotating exhibits support the work of local artists. On Sept. 9, the day after Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II died, the first art seen from the street here was Andy Warhol ‘s “Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, from Reigning Queens (Royal Edition),” a screenprint finished with diamond dust.
PARRISH ART MUSEUM
Founded in 1898, this is the oldest cultural institution on the East End of Long Island. It’s more than 3,000 works range from early 19th century landscape paintings through American Impressionism and on into the present day. The museum sits on 14 acres of meadows; outdoor installations include tall sculptures by Roy Lichtenstein and Isa Genzken. Upcoming exhibits: “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things” opens Nov. 6, on view through Feb. 19, 2023, and “Frida Kahlo” opens Nov. 20, on view through March 2023.
SOUTHAMPTON ARTS CENTER
Admission is free to this center, nestled among eateries, shops and galleries. A multimedia show, “A Celebration of Trees,” is open through Dec. 18. A recent show, “Figures Transformed,” included work inspired by the figure, and can still be seen on a 3-D tour in a Virtual Gallery presentation.
This arts center, in a former 19th century Methodist Church, was co-founded by artists Eric Fischl and April Gornik in Sag Harbor and opened in 2021. It’s a light-filled, flexible exhibition space, with artist residencies and a garden. Windows feature Fischl’s portraits of local architects, artists, writers, inventors and other creatives. Recently on display were works by Louise Bourgeois, Hank Willis Thomas, Laurie Lambrecht, Kiki Smith, and others, now available for viewing on the website. “Hand Made: Guitars, According to G.E. Smith and the American Artists’ Hand Archive,” an exhibit with 16 rare, classic guitars and a collection of bronze-cast sculptures of visual artists’ hands, is on display through Dec. 22.
A new indoor-outdoor exhibition space and gallery that sits on an active horse farm and showcases contemporary art. Horses, geese and other wildlife might be present while you view the art in a picturesque environment. The current “Frank Stella: Sculpture” show, which ends Nov. 1, comprises five monumental works made from 1993 to the present.