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Heckscher Museum of Art

Promotional image from The Lockhorns Meet Howard Huge

By Jennifer Sloat

With just one cartoon panel and a few words, comic creator Bunny Hoest of The Lockhorns can deliver a zinger that can prompt a knowing smirk in most anyone that counts themselves as married, cohabitating or part of a couple.

What started as The Lockhorns of Levittown (yes, that Levittown) in 1968, grew into a comic strip loved worldwide and published in more than 500 newspapers. The bickering couple along with the sweet, supersized pet, Howard Huge, are part of a new exhibit at The Heckscher Museum of Art titled The Lockhorns Meet Howard Huge: Comic Cartoons by Bill and Bunny Hoest, which will be on view from Oct. 6 to Nov. 5. Bill Hoest is being honored in memoriam for his work.

‘Mother’ by Bill Hoest ©Wm Hoest Enterprises Inc., 2017

“It became popular very quickly,” said Bunny Hoest, speaking from her home studio in Huntington. Her husband was a returning GI when he created the strip after observing the interactions of couples settling down in Levittown. “He thought it was a great source of humor.”

The couple met in the early 1970s while playing tennis at the Huntington Racquet Club, during the same time Bill was compiling the cartoons into a book. He took notice of Bunny’s wit and soon asked her to become the book’s editor. The two married in 1973 and formed William Hoest Enterprises and co-created several more cartoons, including Laugh Parade and Howard Huge.

Bill was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1986. The couple then hired John Reiner to become Bill’s assistant and apprentice. After Bill’s passing in 1988, Reiner and Hoest kept the strip going, preserving her husband’s legacy. Still published in Newsday, the comic is translated into 22 languages and is seen by 100 million people worldwide.

Loyal readers may notice the occasional local landmarks thrown in by Reiner, a Stony Brook University alum. Nostalgic fans that have moved away often write Hoest after they spot an Aboffs paint store or other local reference in the strip.

The cartoons, according to Hoest, are social commentary and social criticism, not political. “We do it all in one cartoon. It has always been in one panel,” said Hoest, a former English teacher and graduate of Adelphi University.

Times have changed since the inception of the strip’s characters, Leroy and Loretta. Punch lines like “Leroy has joined the anti-social network,” keep the humor current but stay true to Leroy’s grumpy nature and Loretta’s sarcasm.

“We aren’t social workers but we are helping,” said Hoest. “Marriage counselors say they use it in therapy. If you can laugh at yourself it helps with the problems. But that is not why we did it; being therapeutic was a bonus! We are delighted. Isn’t that nice that people can get a laugh and resolve something with humor?” Hoest also notes that Leroy and Loretta are not Bill and Bunny. “We were crazy about each other,” said Hoest of her marriage to Bill. “A lot of times resolution is humor and that worked for us.”

After 40 years in print the comic still touches a cord with its readers. “Our fans say to us, ‘You are hiding in my closet or peering in my window,’” said Hoest with a laugh. “We seem to be hitting the nail on the head. That’s makes me feel very good.”

Several programs related to the exhibit will also take place, including Take a Selfie with Howard Huge and Children’s Art Activity happening on the terrace. Kids can also create a dog puppet to take home. The event takes place Oct. 8 from noon to 4 p.m. There is also a Celebrate Achievement Benefit honoring Pien and Hans Bosch, Bunny Hoest and the memory of Bill Hoest for their contributions to arts and culture on Long Island, taking place on Oct. 28.

While the amount of print publications has diminished, the syndicated strip still thrives. The nearly 85-year-old Hoest has five years left of a 10-year contract with King Feature Syndicate, distributors the The Lockhorns, with a 10-year option to renew. This would make Hoest a remarkable 90 years old when the contract comes up for renewal.

The very lively Hoest shows no signs of stopping. In addition to writing the cartoon, she is a member of the Berndt Toast Society (named after Smitty cartoonist, Walter Berndt), where she keeps in touch with fellow cartoon writers. They meet monthly for lunch, which may sometimes include a visit from some other famous cartoonists such as Mort Walker who pens Beetle Bailey and Mort Drucker, who is best known for his work at Mad Magazine or Mort Gerber of The New Yorker.

“I will do it as long as I can do it,” said Hoest. “I hope I can keep on.”

The Lockhorns Meet Howard Huge: Comic Cartoons by Bill and Bunny Hoest is on view at The Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington from Oct. 6 to Nov. 5. For more information, call 631-351-3250.

Above, front and side view of ‘Topo Shift: MacIntyre Range, 2015.’ Its blue/white coloration is derived from winter hiking.

By Irene Ruddock

Winn Rea addresses environmental themes in her sculptures, installations, videos and works on paper. She has exhibited in galleries and museums, both nationally and internationally, being awarded many prestigious grants and awards. Presently, her work is being shown at the Heckscher Museum of Art in an exhibit aptly titled Earth Muse: Art and the Environment. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Rea about her latest venture.

Environmental Artist Winn Rea

The exhibit at the Heckscher describes its exhibit as ‘presenting the work of artists who view the earth as muse for contemplation of nature’s beauty and diversity.’ Can you tell us what works you are showing there?

At the Heckscher Museum you can see examples of my topographic relief paintings. They are based on my time in the Adirondack Mountains. I love going to the Adirondacks because I can unplug from the wired world and reconnect with nature.

How does your time in nature translate into your artwork?    

While hiking I “collect” shadows by photographing them. Back in the studio, I construct topographic reliefs based on U.S. Geological Survey maps of the area.  They are built out of 1/8-inch Russian birch plywood that I paint using colors and shadow patterns from the woods. People are fascinated because the reliefs are not solid, they are hollow like sea shells, and the shadow almost fools you into looking over your shoulder for the tree that cast it.

What other ways do you use art to express your interest in the environment?   

All of my works are a meditation on where I fit into the greater scheme of things on the planet. When I make videos, they are about the passage of time in the short term, like how the flow of water in a stream changes over the course of a day, or the long term — as in geologic time — which is explored in my works on paper that are made by evaporation.

In your works on paper, you say that you do not paint in the traditional sense, but tend to them as you would a garden. Can you explain what you mean by that?    

Well, it helps to know my process for the works on paper: first, I sculpt the paper, crinkling it into folds like mountain ranges. Then I flood the paper with pigment, which slowly evaporates leaving marks much like contour lines. So, in effect, instead of pushing pigments here or there with a brush, I work in synchrony with the natural process of evaporation. In gardening terms, I prepare the “soil” (sculpted paper), “water it” (pour pigments), and “harvest” the result — a three-dimensional painting on paper.

Above, ‘Topo-Shift- Upper Saranac Lake’

You are an associate professor of art at Long Island University C.W. Post. What do you wish to get across to your students about how art and the environment are related?

I want to give students confidence in their own creativity and help them cultivate their problem-solving skills through the design process. The reality is, their capacity to imagine and realize new, sustainable ways to thrive is the answer to our planet’s future.

In your world exhibitions, is there one country that you enjoyed the most?

I most enjoyed my travels to Korea especially to the tea farms in the mountains. Here the tea bushes are planted along contour lines that accentuate the form of the mountains. I felt most at home there.

Many artists are looking for longevity in their work, yet you describe much of your work as ‘temporal.’ Why?

I want people to enjoy my work and even collect it in order to have it in their lives, if it brings pleasure to them. But I am not interested in making a commodity.  I want my legacy to be longer lasting in terms of the way my work helps people to think about the world differently and to become more aware of the impact of their everyday choices on the planet.

Above, front and side view of ‘Topo Shift: Cliff Mountain, 2015.’

‘Falling Water’ appears to be one of your most influential and popular installation sculptures. What effect were you trying to achieve?   

In “Falling Water,” I made use of the sculptural and material qualities of our ubiquitous disposable water bottles. Cutting them on a curve releases the energy of a spiral. The clear plastic refracts the light, de-materializing the plastic. In a way, their beauty seduces us into ignoring their treachery — the needless use of petroleum products to package and transport a resource that we have as close as our tap.

What are you working on now?   

I am working on a series of small topographic reliefs that include bodies of water.  I am curious about bathometry (contours of the earth under water) and am exploring that margin between land and sea.

Do you have another exhibit coming up?  

Yes, I have works hanging at Gallery 46 in Lake Placid.  As part of the visual arts extension of the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, it is a great location for people to see my work in the context of the land that inspires it.

Can you tell us about your philosophy of life that influences your art?   

The philosophy behind my work can be traced back to time spent hiking with my dad as a young girl.  I loved the smell of the decaying leaves and movement of air amongst the trees. (I think of it now as the woods breathing.) My dad taught me to read the contours of the land while on the trail; back home he showed me where we had hiked on a 3-D topographic map. My dad also taught me about the natural cycle of things, of how the decay of one body feeds the life of another. This informs all my life’s work!

Winn Rea’s work is on exhibit at the Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington through July 30. For more information, visit her website at www.winnrea.com.

Back row, from left, Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) and Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) pose for a photo with student art contest winners at the Heckscher Museum on May 5. Photo from Town of Huntington

The Town of Huntington, Astoria Bank, the Huntington Arts Council and the Heckscher Museum of Art recognized the winners of the 17th annual Tulip Student Art Contest on Friday, May 5. For the contest, art students were asked to express their views on spring in Huntington and the Annual Tulip Festival using artistic interpretation.

The contest was open to students in grades 3 through 8 in schools within Huntington township. Three winners from each grade level were honored at the event, with the first-prize winner receiving a $50 gift card courtesy of Astoria Bank.

Art teachers also received $50 for each student whose art was chosen as the best of the grade for use in purchasing art supplies, also courtesy of Astoria Bank.

Jennifer Zhu won the Carolyn Fostel Best in Show award, given in honor of the late Carolyn Fostel of Astoria Bank who was instrumental in joining Astoria Bank and the Town of Huntington together as co-sponsors of the Huntington Tulip Festival since its inception in 2001.

‘Orange Flame’ by Richard Dolce, last year’s first-place winner in the Tulip Festival’s photography contest. Photo from Town of Huntington

What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with a Tulip Festival? The natural beauty of the historic Heckscher Park will once again serve as the backdrop for the Town of Huntington’s highly anticipated signature spring tradition this Sunday, May 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Now in its 17th year, the event was the brainchild of Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D).

“The 17th Annual Huntington Tulip Festival is a free event that has something for the whole family to enjoy. There is live entertainment throughout the afternoon on the Chapin Rainbow Stage, booths with hands-on activities for children and thousands of colorful tulips throughout the park,” said Cuthbertson, adding, “So please stop by Heckscher Park and enjoy the festivities.”

Janice Bruckner will perform on the Chapin Rainbow Stage at 2 p.m. Photo from Town of Huntington

In addition to the festivities, the Heckscher Museum of Art will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. offering a special reduced pricing of $2 per person (members and children under 10 free!). Docents will be in the galleries leading tours beginning at 2 p.m. Enjoy the museum’s exhibitions Thaddeus Holownia: Walden Revisited, Earth Muse: Art and the Environment and The Art of Narrative: Timeless Tales and Visual Vignettes.

Since its inception, Huntington’s Tulip Festival has also included an annual photo contest. Entries by amateur and professional photographers will be juried to select the images most evocative of the beauty and family orientation of the festival and must be postmarked or received by July 31. Prize-winning images will be used in festival publicity.

Entertainment schedule

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ­— Student Art Contest. Building up to the festival was an art contest for area students organized by the Huntington Arts Council. Award-winning work will be displayed near the Rainbow Chapin Stage.

Noon to 4 p.m. — Springtime Is for the Birds Art Workshop. Feathers will fly when children of all ages are invited to create colorful, mixed-media birds to celebrate spring on the terrace of the Heckscher Museum. In the event of inclement weather, activities will take place in the museum.

Noon to 12:45 p.m. — Children’s Music with Mike Soloway. Soloway is a teacher and performer of children’s music residing in Huntington. His children’s recordings include the “Moving With Mike” series, the “Preschool Action Song” series in addition to the albums “Hungry for Manners” and “School Bus Songs.”

Inkarayku will perform on the Chapin Rainbow Stage at 1 p.m. Photo from Town of Huntington

1 to 1:45 p.m. — Inkarayku: Journey Through the Andes. An interactive children’s concert, Journey through the Andes takes children on a musical journey through the Andes Mountains, starting in northern Ecuador and ending in Bolivia. The concert features a storytelling narrative, singing along games and group dancing. Inkarayku members use large floor maps, theatrical costumes and props to transport youngsters to another time and place, giving them a one of kind educational experience.

2 to 3 p.m. — Songs & Puppetry with Janice Buckner. Buckner is one of the nation’s top performing artists for children. She tours nationally and has appeared on radio and television, as well as over 4,000 schools and concert halls. Buckner entertains audiences of all ages with her voice, guitars, puppets and her knowledge of Sign Language for the Deaf. She is noted for her voice, her creativity and the outstanding quality of her lyrics.

4 p.m. — Festival Closes. Museum exhibits on view until 5 p.m.

For more information regarding the Tulip Festival or if you would like to volunteer for the day, please call 631-351-3099.

By Rita J. Egan

With the inventions of camera phones and social media, capturing the image of family members and friends is easier than ever. Even taking a photo of oneself is as simple as a quick click with a smartphone. Today’s version of the self-portrait, the selfie, has become so popular, reality television star Kim Kardashian has dedicated her soon-to-be released book, “Selfish,” to the art form, and last year the electric dance music DJ duo The Chainsmokers released their song “#Selfie.”

However, before social media and the Kardashians, even prior to the creation of the camera, artists have preserved the images of their fellow human beings and themselves for centuries. To celebrate the art of creating portraits, The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington offers two new portraiture exhibits starting April 25 — Before Selfies: Portraiture through the Ages and Poised Poses: Portraits from the August Heckscher Collection.

‘Self Portrait in Cape,‘ 1934, Heckscher Museum of Art, Gift of Audrey Webster. by Stokely Webster
‘Self Portrait in Cape,‘ 1934, Heckscher Museum of Art, Gift of Audrey Webster. by Stokely Webster

Lisa Chalif, museum curator, said it’s the perfect time for portraiture exhibits in this age of the selfie. “With the increasing use of social media, selfies stick in the news all the time. It’s so visible now, that it seems it sort of lends itself naturally to taking a look at portraiture historically. Before the age of your cell phone and the selfie, how did you get the likeness of yourself? Before the advent of photography really, how did you preserve your likeness?”

The Before Selfies exhibit, which includes both portraits and self-portraits donated by various individuals to the museum throughout the years, features approximately four dozen pieces by artists such as Thomas Anshutz, William Merritt Chase, Henri Matisse and 19th-century Long Island painter William Sidney Mount. Chalif said most of the portraits are from the 16th through 20th centuries with a few pieces from this century, and the pieces include oil paintings, pen and ink drawings on paper, chromogenic prints, bronze and marble sculptures as well as other mediums.

The curator said the exhibit not only focuses on the artists’ depictions of family, friends, public figures and character types but also takes a look at themes such as changing concepts of beauty and different approaches to depicting male and female subjects depending on underlying gender roles.

The Poised Poses: Portraits from the August Heckscher Collection exhibit complements the Before Selfies exhibit and features paintings from the museum founder’s private collection, which he donated in 1920.

Chalif said Heckscher had an extensive collection of historical European portraiture. The oil paintings on canvas and wood panels on display at the exhibit are by artists such as Sir William Beechey, George Romney, Antoine Vollon, Nicholas de Largilliere and Franz Wolfgang Rohrich.

When it comes to what she hopes visitors will learn from the exhibits, Chalif said, “A larger understanding of the portrait, of saving your appearance. What are you conveying when you are snapping a selfie, and how does that differ from historical portraiture? Just a larger sense of how to read a portrait, what does it convey beyond what somebody looked like? What can I learn about a period of history or the history of fashion? Just all the different ways that artists might convey something, information beyond somebody’s appearance.”

In honor of the museum’s two portraiture exhibits, there will be a selfie station for visitors where they can create their own portraits. Guests are also encouraged to share their images from the station on Instagram and use the hashtags #hmaselfie and #heckschermuseum.

Before Selfies: Portraiture through the Ages runs from April 25 through Aug. 9, and Poised Poses: Portraits from the August Heckscher Collection runs from April 25 through Aug. 2. The Heckscher Museum of Art is located at 2 Prime Avenue in Huntington and is open Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 631-351-3250.

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