May 28, 2014

New Growth

A late spring's visit to LongHouse, the residence and 16 acre East Hampton gardens of Jack Lenor Larsen

Just inside, the dunes: one sees LongHouse itself beyond the Japanese gate bell; to the right are cobalt blue glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly

Emerald, chartreuse, celadon, apple green – much of this weekend was spent admiring Spring's new growth. After a harrowing winter, these leafy spurs do as much to revitalize the spirit as they do our environs. It is because of this rejuvenation* that I return to this page.

On Saturday afternoon, Mr EEE, sister-in-law Marianne and I visited acclaimed American textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen's LongHouse Reserve. Only open to the public two afternoons a week, we made sure to to organize our day around it.

The gardens are intended to be interacted with and Mr. EEE gleefully signals our arrival

Larsen regards landscapes as an art form. And just as shrubs, groves, and perennials are artfully massed, contemporary works by 20th and 21st century artists including Yoko Ono, Willem de Kooning and Cy Twombly are thoughtfully installed to interact with the natural setting.

Contemporary sculptures of wild game bathe in Peter's Pond adjacent to the house

The apparent "undone-ness" of Larsen's gardens is reminiscent of his textiles, many of which are random by design. In the 1950s, when he first founded his firm, his work featured natural yarns handwoven in random repeats. The abstract designs were contemporary, even modernist, yet also timeless in their celebration of the art of the hand. Larsen has ever since been a beacon of the craft movement and is one of only four Americans to have had a one-man show at the Louvre.

The red garden, left, and Remoulade, 1954–1967, by Jack Lenor Larsen

Undoubtedly Mr. EEE's favorite moment was the Geodesic Dome designed by Buckminster Fuller and originally intended to be used as a residence. (To my Neoclassical horror, it is his dream to one day build and live in one. But perhaps with a columned portico?) Boulders of mesh, wire, styrofoam and concrete by artist Grace Knowlton echo the dome's shape.

A David Hockney moment

Each orifice frames a view or painting, explained a wandering guide.

Gaston Lachaise's work enclosed by Hornbeams above reminded us of Kimye's nuptials that same weekend.

Because I firmly believe in the experiential dimension of shopping, I paid a visit to InHouse, the reserve's gift shop which is stocked with handmade fashions and wares, many only available there. In a blink of an eye, I was newly enrobed in Penhaligon's peppery floral Bluebell and this smashing raffia tote.

I look forward to the darling buds of May unfurling into June blossoms here with you. Thank you for continuing to visit and come back soon.

*AND because of the wise words of GG, to whom this is dedicated, who is always faultless – except for his dislike of The Hare with Amber Eyes. Sharawadgi!
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When asked to select my all-time favorite American interior, one room has always sprung to mind first and foremost: Mr. and Mrs. John Gutfreund’s “winter garden” sitting room at 834 Fifth Avenue. In this lush oasis of fresh lettuce greens and delicate pinks, the hustle bustle of New York’s concrete streets outside those silk -festooned windows melts away.