CHIEF CURATOR ALICIA LONGWELL—A KEY FIGURE IN THE
EAST END ART SCENE AND TIRELESS CHAMPION OF ARTISTS—
RETIRES AFTER 38 YEARS AT THE PARRISH
Longwell brought national attention to the Museum and artists of the region
through her scholarly, insightful approach to curating.
Alicia Longwell at the opening of the exhibition Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948-1960. Photo: Jenny Gorman
WATER MILL, 9/26/2022—Alicia G. Longwell, Ph.D, announced that she will retire from her position as the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator in early October after 38 years at the Parrish Art Museum. Longwell has been an integral and influential force in the East End art scene, championing local, national, and international artists and organizing critically acclaimed exhibitions for decades. These projects, based on extensive scholarship and creative concepts, brought widespread attention to the museum.
“We celebrate Alicia Longwell’s dedication and tremendous contributions the Parrish Art Museum and the field of art through her expertise on the artists of the East End,” said Museum Executive Director Monica Ramirez-Montagut. “Alicia was key in establishing a direction for the Parrish collection and legacy of scholarship and excellence for 38 years. She embodies the passion and knowledge of those few extraordinary curators who so deftly combine the historical and contemporary in exhibitions that generously invite viewers to see art in entirely new contexts. The whole Parrish family is grateful and honored for her unwavering guidance.”
“As my last day at the Parrish fast approaches, I can look back on a career immeasurably enriched by reading, studying and, most importantly, looking at art,” said Longwell. “It has been my great good fortune to have that passion daily rewarded during my years working at the Museum alongside dedicated colleagues, a devoted docent corps, and a supportive board of trustees. To be in an artist’s studio looking at art is of course the greatest privilege and the best part of the job. Conveying that same excitement to the visitors in our galleries—bringing art and people together—is what I’ve always hoped to achieve.”
Alicia Longwell ushered the Museum into its new building in Water Mill, planning the inaugural installations of the Parrish collection for the 2012 opening that featured the exhibition Malcolm Morley: Painting, Paper, Process (2012). She has organized numerous survey exhibitions including Dorothea Rockburne: In My Mind’s Eye (2011) and North Fork/South Fork: East End Art Now (2004), as well as solo exhibitions on the work of artists Barbara Bloom, Marsden Hartley, Frederick Kiesler, Alan Shields, Esteban Vicente, and Jack Youngerman, among many others. In addition, Longwell has mined the Parrish collection of 3,500 works to curate over 100 thought-provoking thematic exhibitions, often augmented by key loans.
Among her most notable curatorial achievements are Sand: Memory, Meaning and Metaphor (2008), John Graham: Maverick Modernist (2017), and Affinities for Abstraction: Women Artists on Eastern Long Island, 1950-2020 (2021). The Graham exhibition, featuring 65 paintings and a selection of important works on paper, spanned his four decade career and was the first comprehensive retrospective in 30 years of the influential artist’s work. It garnered positive reviews from national outlets including Artforum, Artnet News, and Hyperallergic. Robert Ayers wrote in ARTnews, “This excellent show, which was conceived, researched, and curated over the last ten years by the Parrish Art Museum’s Alicia G. Longwell…presents a coherent account of Graham’s career from as early as 1923.” Lance Esplund in the Wall Street Journal called it “vital…a splendid, refreshing retrospective.”
Writing about the exhibition Sand, Ken Johnson of The New York Times said, “Sand: Memory, Meaning and Metaphor, a compendium of artworks made of or about sand at the Parrish Art Museum…offers a chance to meditate on the surprisingly many meanings of one of the world’s cheapest and—when it is in the right place—most precious materials.” Also in The New York Times, Ted Loos recommended Affinities for Abstraction among Museum Shows with Stories to Tell; and both Gallerie magazine and Conde Nast Traveler singled out the exhibition in feature stories on the Hamptons as destination.
Alicia Longwell received her Ph.D. degree from the Graduate Center, City University of New York, where her dissertation topic was John Graham. Throughout her tenure, Longwell was integral in building the Museum’s collection through identifying and pursuing acquisitions, including major works by Ross Bleckner, Mary Heilmann, Lonnie Holley, Elizabeth Peyton, David Salle, Alan Shields, and Joe Zucker.
She has authored many publications for the Parrish including Jane Freilicher and Jane Wilson: Seen and Unseen (2015); William Merritt Chase in the Collection of the Parrish Art Museum (2014); Angels, Demons, and Savages: Pollock, Ossorio, Dubuffet (2013), contributing essay for The Phillips Collection catalogue; American Landscapes: Treasures from the Parrish Art Museum (2010); and First Impressions: Nineteenth-century American Master Prints (2010)—among others.
The Parrish Art Museum’s exhibitions and programs are made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and by the property taxpayers, from the Southampton Union Free School District and the Tuckahoe Common School District. The Museum will begin a search for a new Chief Curator in early 2023.
Opening Exhibits, November, 2012
Parrish Art Museum
Inspired by the natural setting and artistic life of Long Island’s East End, the Parrish Art Museum illuminates the creative process and how art and artists transform our experiences and understanding of the world and how we live in it. The Museum fosters connections among individuals, art, and artists through care and interpretation of the collection, presentation of exhibitions, publications, educational initiatives, programs, and artists-in residence. The Parrish is a center for cultural engagement, an inspiration and destination for the region, the nation, and the world.
Parrish Art Museum construction photographs © Jeff Heatley.