A sharp stop and a look ahead

Andrea Grover




No matter what, Andrea Grover, the executive director of Guild Hall in East Hampton, takes what she calls “a sharp stop” at 5:30 PM every day.

And those days, even working from home, are filled with the new normal for many — constant emails, Zoom meetings, FaceTime, and more. “It’s been like talking and running a marathon simultaneously. It’s really hard to differentiate between work and home at this point,” she said.

When the “shelter in place” suggestion hit, Guild Hall was luckily already ahead of the game. The 82nd Artist Members Exhibition opened on the cusp of coronavirus at the beginning of March, but Guild Hall’s “man behind the curtain,” as Grover calls Joe Brondo, had already gone through the museum and filmed a virtual tour, and Casey Dalene, the curatorial assistant, went in and took hundreds of photos of the artworks with her iPhone. Those works can be seen, and purchased in some cases, on the website.

“And we’ve been lucky enough to have ‘Live at Guild Hall,’” she said. The institution has rebroadcast two past performances from last summer — Melissa Errico’s “Sondheim Sublime” and G.E. Smith’s “Portraits” series with Loudon Wainwright III and Wesley Stace — but with the performers, live, offering insights on the performances. Sort of like a DVD director’s commentary, on the Guild Hall YouTube channel.

“In this disconcerting and confusing time, Guild Hall is delighted to offer as a special live-streaming treat the premiere of one of the most clarifying and crystalline concerts we’ve presented in recent years, Tony-nominee Melissa Errico’s in-concert performance of her beautiful album ‘Sondheim Sublime.’ During this livestream premiere on Sunday, which will also celebrate the 90th birthday of Stephen Sondheim, Errico will be joining Guild Hall’s YouTube channel to answer questions from viewers in real time about the concert and Sondheim,” reads the YouTube site.

Since the video premiered two weeks ago, it’s had over 6000 views.

Guild Hall has many things planned for the time ahead, and Grover credits the Hamptons Arts Network, comprised of 19 East End arts-based institutions, as being “incredibly supportive. We get on a phone call every week, and it’s always at least 18 of us.” She talks with folks like Tracy Mitchell of Bay Street Theater, Elka Rifkin from the Watermill Center, and Amy Kirwin of Southampton Arts Center, about how they will move forward and into the summer.

“It’s about these mid-sized arts nonprofits,” she said. “The little ones can maybe stealth through this, and the really large places have endowments. But we depend on tickets, and sales, and the big summer galas. The good thing is we’re all in this together, figuring it out together.”

Grover feels blessed that “the girls are home and we have fun.” Her daughters, Gigi and Lola, and her husband, the musician and DJ Carlos Lama, are all artistically inclined. “The house is like a conservatory,” she said, laughing. “There’s always music.”

And after that sharp stop in the evening, the family takes a walk together at Long Beach in Sag Harbor, which is “paved, so it’s good for Carlos,” Grover said of her husband, who uses a wheelchair.

“My dad, who is 92, was a fisherman, and until about five years ago, jumped in the water every day,” she said. “He says ‘get in the salt water, gargle with it,’ and I miss that feeling of really being part of the bay or the ocean,” she said.

“This has been a time to reconnect,” she said. “And to feel and be able to show appreciation for the people who are keeping Guild Hall running, and to spend time with my family.”

But, Grover acknowledged, she can’t wait to be able to jump in the water again.

bridget@indyeastend.com