RSVIP: Parrish Museum Honors Beth DeWoody, a Latter Day "Peggy Guggenheim"
On July 10, DeWoody and the world famous painter Ross Bleckner were honored at the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, New York, during the annual Parrish Midsummer fete.
"She's so open-minded," said Carlton DeWoody, Beth's son, like his father, Beth's first husband Jim DeWoody, a gifted artist. "That had a big impact on me growing up."
At the entrance to DeWoody's Southampton cottage, a key site in the original Southampton Art Colony, hangs a deer trophy head in an S&M-style leather hood that zips up the side. Lift a small magnifying glass on a book, as Luxist did on a previous visit, and a tiny man magically appears as a holograph, projected in 3-D.
"Beth is my partner in crime," offered designer Richard Mishaan with gusto, "my personal Auntie Mame. She has educated me, guided me into buying some of the best pieces I have, like a Peter Dayton surfboard last week."
"She's the Peggy Guggenheim of our time," pronounced Debbie Bancroft, chair of the tony Southampton society benefit, sporting a dress made with python skins for Calypso. "Everyone loves Beth and Ross . . . and there is nothing like having beloved honorees."
"She is the most welcoming person, with the most eclectic taste in friends, art, and furniture," added artful party photographer Patrick McMullan.
"It is an honor to be honored with Beth," agreed Ross Bleckner, who so happens to inhabit Truman Capote's historic modernist estate in Saggaponack, which Capote famously christened "Kansas by the sea." "She's generous, philanthropic . . . adorable."
As United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, Bleckner recently earned the Parrish kudos and then some by traveling into Uganda to teach former child soldiers to paint.
Thanks to Claire Bean Floral & Event Design, tables in the air-conditioned dinner tent were a field of white peonies. Plexi towers filled with water and topped with rectangular lampshades contained white orchids. In the crisp tent with a behemoth tree growing up through it, Sean Driscoll of Glorious Food, his pallor slightly pink, claimed to be facing a last-minute drama. "So horrifying," he said, "I can't discuss it."
His glorious menu: shrimp; artichoke hearts and figs; lamb chops and black truffles; chocolate souffle with coffee ice cream.
DeWoody, nonetheless, remained ethereal, draped in a diaphanous piece by Issey Miyake and perched on designer Lisa Perry's Lucite version of glass slippers for Stuart Weitzman. "Being honored is difficult for me," a modest DeWoody told Luxist. "I didn't want to do it without a co-honoree who was an artist. Ross has been a friend for a long time."
Nearby, cosmetics heiress Oliva Chantecaille, who summers in East Hampton, wore a shimmering silver dress by Phillip Lim. The designer himself stood at her side. "He's my neighbor," she offered.
Bancroft removed her stiletto heels as she entered the grass-floored dinner tent. Warhol superstar Baby Jane Holzer followed her into the tent, followed by designers Donna Karan and Isaac Mizrahi, society hotties Tiffany Dubin and Margo Nederlander, and artists Chuck Close (in a wheel chair) and Eric Fischl.
Next door, in the museum, a comprehensive Rackstraw Downes exhibit presented haunting, realistic canvases of barbed wire, sidewalks, skyscrapers, construction sites, oil wells, a softball practice near the Skowhegan School of Art, and modernist farm buildings near the Rio Grande circa 2008.
"Whereas a lot of people only [appreciate] abstract art," DeWoody edified before tucking into her shrimp, "I love realistic work, and Rackstraw Downes is one of the greats."