Beach Life, the new exhibition at Guild Hall features Eric Fishl's large-scale oils, including "The Gang" from 2006. The 84 x 108" canvas has the artist's swimsuit clad wife April Gornik walking toward the viewer, and many of his painter posse and others -- including Donald Sultan, Ross Bleckner and Ralph Gibson -- looking on. On Friday evening, many of them were on hand for the show's opening and Guild Hall's annual summer gala under a tent at nearby Gardiner's Farm. Present too: models adorned with gorgeous Van Cleef & Arpels jewels, honorees Esty and Dan Brodsky and DJ Alexandra Richards. Board member, Alec Baldwin attended with his new wife Hilaria. M. C. Joy Behar quipped, "He's so taken with his yoga teacher, he can barely breathe."
A lively live auction ensued, with auctioneer Alexander Gilkes driving up prices and entertainment by appealing to diners' "inner P. Diddy rather than Gandhi." Baldwin joined him onstage to present Lot 1, a seat with "Mr. Baldwin in his Guild Hall Box" for the 2013 season of Summerdocs, a series presented in tandem with the Hamptons International Film Festival. Baldwin sweetened the prize by adding a workout session with his wife, carefully instructing the crowd that Hilaria has a silent "H." Then he mimicked Guild Hall's Executive Director Ruth Appelhof mispronouncing her name, as if it were "hilarious." As to the rigors of the prize, Baldwin said, "Believe me, it's not that enjoyable." But everyone could see the results: Baldwin looks svelte and maybe a decade younger to match his 20-something bride who wisely wore no shoes on the wet lawn. The lot went for $10,000.
Other lots included a portrait commission by William Wegman, paintings by Bleckner, Malcolm Morley and George Condo, a self-inflatable mylar sculpture, a giant silver phallus called "Brancusi Tree" by Paul McCarthy; a Bruce Weber photo, "Johnny and Pal," a naked man and horse, entangled bodies on the beach, had the auctioneer commenting, "We don't know what went before." Perhaps most poignant was Lot 6, "Watermelon," a 15 x 15 x 15" porcelain glazed piece by Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei. Alison Klayman's new documentary about the blogging, tweeting activist recently screened at Guild Hall. Ai Wei Wei Never Sorry reveals what a repressive regime can do to silence critical voices. While he's in Beijing accused falsely of tax fraud, his studio leveled, his stunning green work went for $94,000.
Last week in Montauk, the annual "Diamond in the Rough" gala to benefit the Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation featured aerialists in vintage red bathing suits and caps performing in midair in the cavernous, historic structure, ready for Phase II of a renovation that will include a swimming pool. Montauk resident Aida Turturro, aside from serving as honorary co-chair of the lavish event (with Jerry O'Connell), donated her services for the live auction, not as actress, or privately playing Tony Soprano's sister, but as "master home organizer." Greeting guests sipping "Poolside Passion" cocktails on the hot, hot night, she murmured, "I'd like to take a swim right now."
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.