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Hamptons Journal: The Big Bang at The Watermill Center, Marsalis and Calerazzo, Garden as Art

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The Big Bang may have been the theme of this year's Watermill Center extravaganza of a summer gala, with its outsized red phalluses, neon ninjas, and popping balloons, but many East End events make big noise.

At the Watermill Center on Saturday night, even a heavy downpour did not deter a dancer clad in wedding white from writhing in dirt. A few minutes in, she was muddied, as if coated in primal ooze. A woman in yellow used a leaf blower to inflate giant white latex that went POP from the exertion. The rain caused onlookers to retreat from the art laden paths the better to view the art for auction under a tent: works by Marina Abramovic, Sandro Chia, William Wegman, Shirin Neshat, Dennis Oppenheim, Alexandra Posen, Lola Schnabel, to name a few. The challenge to stay dry also brought viewers to the edgy video installation, Mike Kelley 1954-2012 in collaboration with the LUMA Foundation, in the center's exhibition space.

Robert Wilson, the perfect host, greeted each guest. This world-renowned artist will be staging his "The Odyssey" in Athens this October.

Teaming up with Joey Calderazzo on piano, Branford Marsalis's concert at Guild Hall showed how physical jazz is. Performing compositions by each, the players leaned in with Calderazzo practically leaping off his stool, his feet in constant motion. Their take on Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," segued into an elegiac saxophone solo. Marsalis explained the origins of his tune "Eternal": The band wrote songs for their girlfriends and wives, and his wife Nicole wanted to know, where's my song? This was it. The classical music influence and ESP these jazz artists developed over 15 years of performing together was evident throughout, finishing with Calderazzo's tune, "Breeze Dance."

Twenty-five years ago, the Danish movie Babette's Feast won the Best Foreign Film Oscar. In honor of The Film Society of Lincoln Center's 50th anniversary, Guild Hall and the Hamptons International Film Festival hosted a special screening, followed by a panel featuring Bob Giraldi, Fern Berman and Geoffrey Drummond. Experts on food in the media, all agreed that this charming movie ushered in the era of celebrity chefs like Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, and Mario Batali. Babette's, the East Hampton restaurant, was named for the film. In celebration, the audience was treated to carrot cake courtesy of Babette's, not the mouth watering splendid French meal of the film's climax, but grand nonetheless.

Never underestimate the voyeuristic pleasure of visiting the property of others, to see their choices on grounds, outdoor sculpture, landscaping, or just to get some gardening tips. This year, Guild Hall's Garden as Art tour scheduled for Aug. 25 features art by Robert Indiana, Calder, and Niki de Saint Phalle at Lisa and Richard Perry's spectacular North Haven estate. At Lenore and Adam Senders' kid's paradise, most memorable are a sunken trampoline, ponies, stables, and a Sol Le Witt keyhole. On the spiritual side, a labyrinth reminds the visitor to Jody and Larry Carlson's home and studio that the end of the journey is the journey itself. Jenny and Trey Laird's old school Bridgehampton village house belies a deep and rich unfolding of fountain, swimming pool and pool house. And the Michael MacElhenny and David Wine house in the East Hampton historic district offers a garden arranged by color, moving with the seasons.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.