Inga Howe-Geniesse

On The Road at LongHouse Reserve

Just off Hands Creek Road in East Hampton, New York, a narrow path guarded closely by cryptomerias marks the entrance to LongHouse Reserve. Founded in 1991 by renowned textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen, LongHouse’s sixteen acres are home to an incredible collection of art, acquired by Larsen over the course of several decades. Larsen purchased the property in 1975 and built his residence (the eponymous LongHouse) in 1986, emulating the style of the Shinto shrine, a seventh century temple located in Ise, Japan.

In addition to the art and oddities gathered by Larsen in the LongHouse, the exterior grounds are home to numerous intriguing sculptures and other installations. The gardens, to quote the reserve’s archive, function as a “living case study of the interaction between plants and people in the 21st century”. Both indoors and out, the ancient and contemporary live alongside one another, different cultures and civilizations peacefully coexisting in the modern world.

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The gardens are immensely diverse–from the romantic dreaminess of Peter’s Pond with its water lilies and lotus to the jarringly-bright Cobalt Spears, and their smooth, modern, blown glass facades. And yet, within this verdant idyll, nothing feels out of place. Each work of art is carefully framed by the landscape and the different areas feel like natural outgrowths of this carefully-cultivated environment.

Over sixty works dot the landscape, with guest artists rotating throughout. On any given visit it is impossible to see everything–moreover the gardens change considerably with each passing season, making for vastly different experiences at different times of the year. But it is certainly enough to see only a small portion of LongHouse– it’s like the Louvre in that way: it’s impossible to get to it all, but what does cross one’s path is bound to enchant. Each corner of LongHouse offers a unique perspective on potential, color, space, and time. Taken together, the reserve imparts to the visitor a meaningful sense of how we interact with nature– a humbling realization that leaves visitors eager to return.

LongHouse Reserve is a 501(C)3 nonprofit open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2:00 to 5:00 pm from late April to mid October. Find more information here.

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