Terrie Sultan

Terrie Sultan lives art. She believes “art has the power to change people’s lives.” That belief meshes well with the task she’s currently facing: Moving the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton to an expanded home in Water Mill. Her vision is The Parrish will “become a place where everyone wants to be.” If all goes as planned, the East End museum should open in the summer of 2012.

Sultan’s shepherding of The Parrish towards its future is natural for the woman who’s been immersed in art, culture and management since girlhood. Her mom was an amateur painter, a librarian in later life and was involved with local theater. Dad was a businessman. Her brother, Donald Sultan, is now a famous artist. Her husband, Christopher French, is an artist and art critic.

Terrie Sultan first pursued art and then museums. She has an undergraduate degree in painting and a Master’s in Museum Studies. She worked at the Oakland Museum in California, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in NYC, was the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and became Director of the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston in Texas. She’s written books and organized over 50 exhibitions.

In 2008, Sultan became the Director of the Parrish Art Museum. Since arriving, two exhibitions have tag-teamed with New York University’s Grey Gallery: “Damaged Romanticism” and current exhibitions featuring Esteban Vicente. The dual art exhibitions—held nearly simultaneously—allowed for a broader range of works than was possible in one space alone. Collected artworks were loaned between institutions. The exhibitions traveled and brought with them a piece of The Parrish.

In the new building, more of the East End art community can be revealed, Sultan said. Artwork can come out of storage and onto permanent places on the walls. Expanded programming, theater, dance, studio classes and more will push The Parrish onto the major museum circuit. The Parrish’s aspirations are entwined with Sultan’s. For both, letting art enrich lives is foremost. parrishart.org.

pat rogers

Pat Rogers is a freelance writer specializing in arts and culture on Long Island. When not going to art openings or interviewing actors or musicians, she’s looking for the next interesting story.