Kelly Taxter leaves the management of the Parrish Art Museum
On December 23, the Parrish Art Museum’s board of trustees announced that the museum’s director, Kelly Taxter, had resigned from her post.
Taxter, who officially started at the Parrish on March 22, had been in the role for less than a year.
In a statement, the council wrote: “Under his leadership, the Parrish reopened last March with renewed energy and enjoyed a successful spring and summer season. The Board appreciates the enthusiasm Kelly has brought to the Parrish community and her passion for cultivating and promoting contemporary East End artists.
Taxter assumed the managerial role from former assistant manager Chris Siefert, who took over as interim manager in June 2020 following the departure of Terrie Sultan. Sultan had been in post since 2008 and she oversaw the design, construction and opening of the museum’s new facility at Water Mill in 2012.
Prior to joining the Parrish, Taxter served as Barnett and Annalee Newman Curator of Contemporary Art at the Jewish Museum in New York.
“I started my role as director of the Parrish Art Museum at the end of March 2021 and was excited about the challenges ahead of me”, ???? Taxter said in the release. “It was a very difficult decision to resign from my position. It has been wonderful to be part of the excitement and energy that has surrounded the institution since my beginnings, and I thank the staff for their dedication and hard work during a complex period of transition. The Parrish is an important cultural center that brings together many communities. It has been an honor to be a part of their good work, and I wish the staff and board the best as they move the museum forward.
The board concluded its statement by thanking Taxter for its contributions.
In a telephone interview after the announcement was released, Board Chair and Co-Chair Mary E. Frank said when discussing Taxter’s tenure, “She’s done an amazing job.” in February, we announced his arrival. I clearly remember around this time last year the search committee met with her and thought we had the right person. She brought so much energy to the museum, broadened our horizons with new East End collectors and artists, and was so plugged into the arts circuit â???? it was what we hoped for.â????
Frank credited Taxter with organizing Parrishâ????s August Midsummer Weekend, a series of three successful parties that benefited the museum, including a dance party presided over by Larry Milstein, a young philanthropist who brought a cohort representing the next generation of partisan arts.
“She also created a collector’s circle for people supporting the museum and they joined because she was the director,” she added. says Frank.
When asked if Taxter was challenged by the fact that she had never been a museum director before, Frank replied, “We knew there would be a learning curve. She’s all about the art, and she excelled. That’s what I love, that’s art, and that was the affinity I had with her. That’s what I appreciate so much about her again â ???? his level of comfort with the artists.
Now the board is tasked with finding someone to replace Taxter who can do just that. It’s something they probably didn’t expect to do less than a year later.
“In life, it is to live and learn”, ???? Frank admitted. “It’s a very fluid time in the art world. I saw a staggering statistic that 21 museums are currently looking for directors.
When asked what qualities the Parrish board would be looking for in their next manager, Frank replied, “It’s like falling in love. When you meet the person and it’s a good choice, it’s a good choice. There is always a degree of uncertainty in hiring someone. Hopefully next time it will be longer term. I don’t know what we’re going to focus on, but we have a long checklist of what we want.
“It’s a complicated community”, ???? she added. “You have the local community, which is so important to serve, and I think we’re doing a great job, and then the summer visitors, who are key to success.” You must also be deeply sensitive.
Along with recent transitions at the top, the Parrish has also seen a fair number of staff departures at all levels over the past couple of years. When asked why she thought that had been the case, Frank replied, “It’s always concerning to lose good people.” Much of it is COVID. There were also people very loyal to Terrie. Between Terrie and COVID, everyone took a step back and reassessed how they wanted to spend their time. A lot of people said, “It’s not for me. I want to do something else.â????â????
The challenges of COVID-19 have indeed created difficult times for all arts organizations, but Frank believes the Parrish has adapted well given the circumstances.
“Last year, coming out of the pandemic, it was really important to have events and shows at the museum, so we took it outside with ‘Field of Dreams’, ???? and this year brought people back for the Lichtenstein show and “Affinities for Abstraction” ???? women artists, and now the three artists from the East End that we are showing. We have also been trying to do more fundraisers and high profile events and the Midsummer Party throughout the pandemic.
When asked how COVID-19 has changed the direction of the board going forward, Frank replied, “I thought about it a lot. Last year we closed for January and February out of an abundance of caution. In the end, it wasn’t as bad as everyone feared in the winter.
“This year we talked about what would happen if we had to close again? In March 2020, when we had to close, nobody knew how it worked, how the virus was transmitted, it was all a huge unknown. Now we have a much better understanding of how virus waves pass. They’re dwindling, and luckily we have a 6,000 square foot outdoor patio where we can host events six or seven months of the year. On December 27, we are also instituting a new requirement that everyone entering the museum must be vaccinated.
As the search for a new director begins, Frank said the good news is that a replacement has been identified for the museum’s deputy director position, which was vacated when Seifert left the Parrish in June to join the Bay Street Theatre. in Sag Harbour.
“It just falls into place so I can’t say who it is, but I’ve made sure this person has visited, spent time in the Hamptons and figured out what the area was like before moving forward, “She said.” Then we’ll have a new assistant manager and that person will help steer the ship.
Despite the many changes to the Parrish Art Museum over the past two years, Frank emphasized that the board remains committed and focused on its vision.
“We stay true to our main mission, which is to show artists from the East End”, ???? she said, noting that next summer the Parrish will host an exhibition organized by the Wexner Center in Ohio featuring the work of North Fork artist Jacqueline Humphries. “Kelly brought it to us. If anything, Kelly has brought a new, younger vigor to the types of performers we show. But our main mission remains the same, which is to show artists who have worked or were inspired by the East End.