Curatorial Coup

Former Houstonians Terrie Sultan and Andrea Grover revamp Long Island art scene

Former Houstonians Terrie Sultan and Andrea Grover revamp Long Island art scene

Two forerunners of Houston's vibrant art scene, Terrie Sultan of the University of Houston museum formerly known as Blaffer Gallery, and Andrea Grover, one-time high priestess of Aurora Picture Show, are spotlighted in a recent New York Times feature about the evolving visual arts culture on Long Island's East End.

Long an enclave for celebrated American icons the likes of Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Roy Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock (as well as the summertime wonderland of New York City's upper echelon), the East End is enjoying a renaissance largely thanks to Sultan's programming at the helm of Southampton's Parrish Art Museum. In her three years as director at the Parrish since her tenure at the Blaffer, Sultan has reinvigorated the Long Island museum with a focus on the area's artistic heritage, while also involving prominent local living artists.

"People think having boundaries is hard, but I've always thrived in a museum that has them," she tells the New York Times. "These smaller, more regional institutions present some of the best opportunities for creativity."

This creativity allowed her to raise the profile of Blaffer Gallery from a sleepy corner of the UH campus into a recognized incubator of contemporary art. Blaffer officially "arrived" on the national art stage when Sultan's exhibition of Chuck Close prints travelled to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

While she assembles shows for the Parrish's sparkling new Herzog & de Meuron-designed pavilions, Sultan's legacy echoes through the courtyard of the UH Fine Arts building. The renamed Blaffer Art Museum has announced an expansion conceived by New York's Work AC (check for blueprints in April). Meanwhile, the adjacent Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts strides forward with innovative programming under the eye of program director Bree Edwards (who was recommended by Sultan).

When CultureMap interviewed Grover in May 2010, she was packing up her Aurora Street home and heading to join family on Long Island with hopes of aligning with East End art organizations. Now teamed with Sultan as an adjunct curator at the Parrish, she is being charged to "dream up more connections between the art history of the area and the art of today."

Read more about Sultan and Grovers' bright Long Island future here.

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Terrie Sultan, third from right, helped break ground for an addition to the Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron last summer. Photo by Richard Lewin/Parrish Art Museum
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Andrea Grover, in Houston. Photo by Steven Thomson
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Herzog & de Meuron design for Parrish Art Museum Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron