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Lisa Chalif

'Untitled' by Bill Shillalies

By Heidi Sutton

“Conjoined” by Elizabeth Heaton of Amityville

The Long Island Biennial returns to The Heckscher Museum of Art with fervor this year as the fifth edition of the exhibition offers Long Island’s top artists the opportunity to share their artwork with the Huntington community and beyond. The juried exhibit opened on Aug. 4 and will run through Nov. 11. 

Contemporary artists who live in Suffolk and Nassau counties and who have specialized training in art were invited to submit artwork created within the past two years. The result is twofold: providing artists the opportunity to showcase their work to a broad audience in a unique and exciting space and allowing art lovers to see snapshots of what is happening artistically on Long Island.

The brainchild of former curator Kenneth Wayne, the first biennial opened in 2010 in conjunction with the museum’s 90th anniversary. Now, eight years later, the juried exhibit has grown in popularity, receiving a record 351 submissions this year, with 52 works representing communities from New Hyde Park to Montauk selected for the show. Of those selections, 38 of the artists were first-time exhibitors.

‘Wafting Bubinga; by John Dino

This year’s judges — Christine Berry of Berry Campbell Gallery in New York City; Robert Carter, professor of art at Nassau Community College in Garden City; and Bobbi Coller, an independent art historian and curator — were tasked with selecting six winners, which were announced on Aug. 8. 

“The art world needs as many venues as possible for new artists; this is so important and very much appreciated,” said Carter, who was impressed with this year’s submissions. “The artist entries were surprising in how they varied in media use and subject matter — touching on nature, social issues and more.”

Mediums included oil, acrylic, pastel, woodcut, watercolor, sculpture, mixed media, ceramic, bronze, embroidery, tempura, sculptures, photographs, prints and more.

“Buttermilk Falls,” woodcut on paper, by Beth Atkinson of Northport; “Abrasha in Port-au-Prince,” oil on canvas, by Peter Beston of East Quogue; “Wafting Bubinga #2,” carved wood, by John Cino of Patchogue; “Conjoined,” pastel and water on paper, by Elizabeth Heaton of Amityville; ‘Untitled,” ceramic/bronze, by Bill Shillalies of Massapequa; and “Slight Disturbance,” acrylic on clay surface, by Frank Wimberley of Sag Harbor rose above the competition to receive Awards of Merit.

According to museum’s curator, Lisa Chalif, the Long Island Biennial “is about the creativity that surrounds us on Long Island. The show is extremely diverse in terms of medium and subject and style. It is just very appealing — there is something for everyone here.”

‘Abrasha in Port au Prince’ by Peter Beston

The exhibit spans two of the four galleries at the museum. The adjoining exhibits include The Tile Club: Camaraderie and American Plein-Air Painting (through Nov. 4) and Surface Tension: Pictorial Space in 20th Century Art (through May 5, 2019).

“Long Island is teaming with talented artists and the museum is pleased to bring this fact to the public’s attention,” said Executive Director and CEO at The Heckscher Michael W. Schantz in a recent email, adding, “A high quality juried exhibition, such as the Heckscher Museum’s Biennial, remains one of the best ways of doing so.”

The Heckscher Museum of Art, located at 2 Prime Ave., Huntington is open Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 631-351-3250 or visit www.heckscher.org.

In conjunction with the Long Island Biennial, several related programs are scheduled at the museum:
‘Slight Disturbance’ by Frank Kimberly

Exploring Art … Making Memories

A guided tour and activity for those living with dementia and their care partners will be held on Monday, Aug. 20 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Members pay $8; nonmembers $10; care partners are free.

Gallery Talk

Meet Long Island Biennial artists John Cino, Rachelle Krieger and Alisa Shea at a gallery talk on Sunday, Sept.16 from 1 to 3 p.m. Members are free, nonmembers pay $5.

DRAW OUT! With Biennial Artists

Join The Heckscher Museum and its 2018 Cultural Partners for this free Community Arts event on Sunday, Sept. 23 from noon to 4 p.m.  (rain date Sept. 30). See demonstrations and meet Biennial artists Mario Bakalov, E. Craig Marcin and Inna Pashina. Hear live music, sketch a model, paint en plein air and much more.  

The Heckscher Museum of Art was founded in 1920 by philanthropist August Heckscher and is listed on the National and New York State Register of Historic Places. The museum’s permanent collection comprises more than 2,500 works from the 16th to the 21st centuries. 

Jan Staller, ‘Water Purification Plant,’ Hempstead, Long Island, 1991, Heckscher Museum of Art

By Kevin Redding

Heavy metal is coming to Huntington’s Heckscher Museum of Art this month. Not in the form of head-banging music but the photography of Jan Staller — a Long Island native whose large-scale shots of industrial landscapes, urban infrastructure, neglected buildings and construction materials have been subjects of beauty and acclaim for almost 40 years. 

From April 21 through July 29, nearly two decades of Staller’s career will be on display at Heckscher’s Heavy Metal: Photographs by Jan Staller exhibition, which will feature more than a dozen of his “monumental photographs,” a three-channel video of his work and an in-depth discussion with the artist himself on May 10 at 7 p.m. 

Jan Staller, ‘Pile of Rebar,’ Flushing, Queens, 2007, on loan by the artist

Staller, who moved to Manhattan in 1976 after gathering up degrees at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Massachusetts and Maryland Institute, rejected the trend among photographers at the time to journey across the country in search of subjects and instead began capturing his immediate surroundings. A deteriorated highway along the Hudson River. Buildings in ruin. Unfamiliar architecture. All with a focus on pattern, geometry, line color and light — both natural and artificial. 

Staller has said of his unique work that he “looks for the sculptural, formal and lyrical qualities of objects that are not always thought to warrant contemplation.”

This ability to zero in on the unseen and passed-by in the urban setting, and capture the gradual development of Manhattan over time, has brought Staller’s work to the pages of Time and Life Magazine, Forbes and The New York Times and inside the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan and the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Since the 1970s, he has taken his camera across the country and world and was chosen to photograph on the sets of such films as “12 Monkeys” and “Fargo.” The latter’s snowbound setting was a natural fit for Staller, whose snapshots of blizzards in empty New York City in the ’70s and ’80s are among his most famous. He has also had two monographs of his photographs published — “Frontier New York” and “On Planet Earth.”

“Jan’s photographs show us our ordinary, everyday surroundings in a way that many of us do not perceive them,” said Lisa Chalif, the museum’s curator, who first met Staller during an exhibition in 2009 titled Long Island Moderns, highlighting local artists from painters to photographers to architects. “He makes me stop and see things differently. You see the beauty there and most of us are not able to look and isolate the formal structures necessarily in those sights. You can see all the color in the rusted steel. I didn’t always see that but he helps me see that.”

She continued, “Staller perceives in existing manufactured forms, seen in random industrial settings, a serene beauty that he isolates with his camera, discerning order in chaos, beauty in decay and a sense of mystery within the ordinary.”

In a recent interview, Staller, who grew up primarily in Sag Harbor, said he became infatuated with photography at an early age as his father pursued the art as a hobby, dark room in the house and all. By the time he was 13, he had his own 35mm camera and was snapping pictures of the garden and nature. A couple of years later, at 15, he started developing his own prints with the aid of a dark room he built at school. 

Looking back at his long career, Staller said the common thread in all his work is an “ephemeral” subject matter.

“Things in transition are, for at least in the moment that I’m there, of particular interest,” he said. “I think that’s something I’ve always been captivated by. But if you look at my work over the years, you can see there’s a gradual [inclination] to get closer in on the subject matter, a lessening of the contextual details and a greater emphasis on the thing itself. Until the thing itself is the only issue being explored, such as these photographs made of construction materials … ” 

The photographer, who still resides in Manhattan, said he was looking forward to the exhibition and gauging the public’s response to his work. “I think that being an artist, we’re exploring some ideas and are hoping to impart those to others,” he said. “So when people understand that in a very clear way, that’s probably the most gratifying thing.” 

Staller continued, “I often quip that we artists are all wannabe cult leaders, in the sense that we think that we have this vision of the world and art is something that is affirmed by a consensus or not. So it all depends on who or how many people are affirming the work. A show at The Heckscher Museum is an affirmation and one that I’m very satisfied with.”

The Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington will present Heavy Metal: Photographs of Jan Staller from April 21 to July 29. The community is invited to a Gallery Talk on Thursday, May 10 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. $5 per person, members free. For more information, call 631-351-3250 or visit www.Heckscher.org.

Photos courtesy of The Heckscher Museum

From left, Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci; Jillian Guthman, receiver of taxes; Best in Show winner Paulina Trzonkowska of West Babylon; and Huntington Councilman Ed Smyth. Photo courtesy of Heckscher Museum

The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington recently announced the top awards for Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum. The prestigious competition received 385 entries from a record-breaking 62 high schools across Suffolk and Nassau counties. The juried selection narrowed the field down to 80 works currently featured in the museum gallery through April 15.

“Every year, the caliber of artwork is more impressive and the artists’ statements increasingly more creative and thoughtful. It is a challenge to choose the best of the best from hundreds of entries,” noted Joy Weiner, director of education.  

The competition’s four top honorees were Paulina Trzonkowska, a senior at West Babylon High School who received the Celebrate Achievement Best in Show Award for her colored pencil work titled “Too Close”; Isabelle Lin, a junior at Manhasset High School,  who received Second Place, the Judith Sposato Memorial Prize, for her painting, “Two Flags”; Estefanie Arrue, a senior at Hicksville High School, received Third Place, the Hadley Prize, for “Female Reconstruction,” a mixed media work; and Rico Ford, a senior at Valley Stream Central High School, received Fourth Place for the colored pencil work “Pair of Kings.”   

 Now in its 22nd year, Long Island’s Best provides students the opportunity to exhibit their artwork in a prominent museum and to be featured in a full-color catalog while museum visitors are treated to exceptional artwork by talented emerging artists.  

Jurors for the exhibition were Lisa Chalif, curator, The Heckscher Museum of Art, and guest juror Doug Reina, a notable Setauket artist and 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant recipient. 

“For high school students, this is a rare and exciting opportunity to put their skills to the ultimate test and show the world who they are. This is where you bring your A game,” said Reina. “This is their first taste of what life in the contemporary art world is really like. The ‘creative pressure’ gives these young people terrific experience as they become the next generation of the world’s artists.”

In addition to the gallery exhibition, visitors can see all of the artwork submitted to the competition on a digital display that will run for the entirety of the exhibition and Mitchells, a Huntington-based department store, will display select images from Long Island’s Best in its windows on Main Street beginning mid-April.  

Generous support for exhibit is provided by The Darrell Fund Endowment, Strong-Cuevas Foundation, TD Charitable Foundation, The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation,  RBC Wealth Management,  A Friend of the Museum and Dr. Inna Gellerman of Gellerman Orthodontics.

The Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington is open Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 631-351-3250 or visit www.heckscher.org.

‘This Must Be the Place,’ by Roy Lichtenstein, 1965. Collection of Dr. Harvey Manes

By Jennifer Sloat

It has been 50 years since the Summer of Love. It was a time that pushed the boundaries of music, art and society and had many feeling groovy and putting flowers in their hair. A half-century later that era still fascinates us.

The Heckscher Museum will explore that era through art with its latest exhibition titled From Frankenthaler to Warhol: Art of the ’60s and ’70s.

‘Chicken Noodle from Campbell’s Soup I’ by Andy Warhol, 1968. Collection of Dr. Harvey Manes

According to the museum, the exhibit, which opens this Saturday, delves into two trends that defined the art of the times and stretched the definition of fine art: abstract works that explore line, shape and color; and representational art on subjects from popular culture to everyday urban and suburban environments. Color field, minimalist, pop and photorealist works speak to the myriad styles that characterized the art world during the dynamic decades of the ’60s and ’70s.

In a recent interview, the museum’s curator, Lisa Chalif, said the time period was a watershed in American history and that many of the issues of the ’60s and ’70s continue to exist today. “The exhibition showcases the depth of The Heckscher Museum’s permanent collection. A good number of these works have not been exhibited for a while,” she said.

Andy Warhol’s soup can and Roy Lichtenstein’s comic-inspired images are among the works of art featured. The galleries will include iconic images from art legends Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist, Romare Bearden and May Stevens. There will be a total of 42 pieces on display.

“This generation of artists solidified America’s dominance of the international art world,” said Chalif, “They stretched the definition of fine art by using images from consumer culture and experimenting with processes such as silk screen, previously used in commercial applications.”

During this time, more women and African-American artists entered the mainstream art world as well, bringing fresh perspectives to modern subjects.

The art and music scene often intertwined in that era, and, fittingly, the museum will have a ’60s and ’70s soundtrack as the backdrop for the exhibit. “The show will be bright, colorful and fun,” Chalif continued. “We’ll have a photographic time line highlighting social, political and cultural events of the period, as well as music from the period in the galleries.”

The exhibit will be on view Nov. 18 through March 11. An opening reception for museum members and guests will be held on Dec. 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. In conjunction with the exhibit, two Gallery Talks will be held. On Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. art historian Thomas Germano will present a lecture titled “Andy Warhol and the Soup Can School,” and author and music historian Tom Ryan will present “How Music Changed History: 1960’s and 70’s” on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m.

The Heckscher Museum of Art is located at 2 Prime Ave. in Huntington. For hours, prices and more information, call 631-351-3250 or visit www.heckscher.org.

Photo courtesy of Heckscher Museum

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