You go, girl! Heckscher Museum celebrates female artists

You go, girl! Heckscher Museum celebrates female artists

Miriam Schapiro’s ‘Berthe Morisot & Me,’ early 1970s

By Melissa Arnold

For the past 95 years, the Heckscher Museum in Huntington has worked to exhibit its varied permanent collection in new and interesting ways.

Audrey Flack’s ‘Lady Madonna,’ 1972
Audrey Flack’s ‘Lady Madonna,’ 1972

For the next few months, the museum is highlighting the contributions of female artists in an exhibit entitled You Go Girl! Celebrating Women Artists. Selected from the museum’s permanent collection, the exhibit will feature 50 women artists from the 19th century through today.

The theme is the latest dreamed up by museum curator Lisa Chalif.

“We wanted to select a group of art that showcases women artists in particular,” Chalif said. “We have art from more than 100 women artists at the museum, but they are only a small percentage of the overall collection.”

Chalif added that many women have faced “significant obstacles” to their success in the visual arts, including getting into galleries.

Museum visitors will have the chance to explore art in a variety of mediums, including print, photography, painting, sculpture and mixed media. The majority of the selections are contemporary and 20th century works and are split into two rooms — one for representational art and the other for abstract art.

Chalif noted that while the exhibit focuses on women’s art, it is not a feminist exhibit. The artists explored subjects of all kinds. “We have a lot of landscape-based work — I think that’s really characteristic of our collection as a whole, and I think that has a lot to do with our location,” she said. “People that live on Long Island are often drawn to the landscape here. There are a lot of abstract styles as well. There is something here that will appeal to everyone.”

Among Chalif’s favorites are works from feminist artist Miriam Schapiro, who founded one of the first feminist art schools in the 1970s, and super-realist painter Audrey Flack’s “Lady Madonna.” “It’s nice to have [a Madonna in the exhibit] because it refers to the most recognized woman in history,” Chalif said.

Elaine de Kooning’s ‘Black Mountain #6,’ 1948
Elaine de Kooning’s ‘Black Mountain #6,’ 1948

Many of the artists in the exhibit lived on Long Island or are still in the area today, including Emma Stebbins, Jane Wilson, Barbara Roux, Janet Culbertson and Berenice Abbott. “We were able to have [some of the living artists] come out for the opening,” Chalif said. “They have expressed how thrilled they are to be featured along with artists they’ve had as mentors or personal favorites. It’s gratifying for them and for me.”

Other artists include Elaine de Kooning, Dorothy Dehner, Audrey Flack, Jane Hammond, Mary Nimmo Moran, Georgia O’Keeffe, Betty Parsons, Miriam Schapiro and Esphyr Slobodkina.   

The Heckscher Museum is also displaying two simultaneous exhibits. The first, entitled Men at Work, focuses on depictions of men doing all kinds of jobs, from construction to academia and religious life. William Merritt Chase, Thomas Eakins, George Grosz, John Rogers, Emma Stebbins and John Sloan are among the featured artists.

The other, called Street Life, depicts life in New York City — its work-a-day life, shopping avenues and iconic transportation system in photographs. Featured artists include Berenice Abbott, N. Jay Jaffee, Martin Lewis, John Sloan, Garry Winogrand, among others.

You Go Girl! will be on display through April 3, while Men at Work and Street Life will be displayed through March 27.

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

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