Art exhibit

Photo courtesy of Sweetbriar Nature Center

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

Sweetbriar Nature Center heads to Stony Brook and Setauket for special family friendly events on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Sweetbriar visits Reboli Center

In perfect harmony with its current exhibit, Wild and Wonderful by Vicki Sawyer, the Reboli Center for Art and History, 64 Main St., Stony Brook welcomes the staff of Sweetbriar Nature Center and some of its resident animals including owls for an outdoor nature talk from 2 to 3 p.m. Rain date is Sept. 27. Free. To make a reservation, call 751-7707 or email [email protected]

Sweetbriar Raptor Sketch Night

Join Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket for a special Raptor Sketch Night from 3 to 5 p.m. Sweetbriar  Nature Center in Smithtown will bring over birds of prey for a workshop that will bring nature lovers and artists together for a unique evening of sketching and learning. $40 per person, $60 for a family of four includes all materials. To register, visit www.gallerynorth.org/thestudio. For more info, call 751-2676.

By Heidi Sutton

When was the last time you went to an art exhibit? When was the last time you strolled through a gallery, taking in the beauty of a painting, a photograph, a sculpture? Yes, virtual exhibits are a creative substitution but we all know it’s not the same. Thankfully, art institutions on the Island are slowly reopening their doors to the public with fresh and exciting art installations to lift our spirits and grant us a reprieve from the stresses of our daily lives.

On Sept 3, the Reboli Center for Art & History in Stony Brook Village launched their new season with Wild and Wonderful featuring the whimsical art of Vicki Sawyer and on Sept. 12, the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s stately Mills Pond Gallery in St. James introduces a juried fine art exhibition titled Contemporary Realism honoring an art movement in which subjects are painted from everyday life. The massive show highlights the works of 64 artists from 11 states who were asked to submit oil paintings “that captured realism through any approach or style.” Exhibiting Long Island artists represent 18 Long Island communities from Floral Park to Aquebogue.

Allison Cruz, executive director of the Mills Pond Gallery, has been cautiously waiting to present this exhibit to the public and is thrilled to reopen the gallery’s doors this Saturday. “The business of art does not really ‘take a vacation.’ Exhibits, calls for entry, shipping of work, jurying the entries all go on for months ahead of the actual exhibit since our juried exhibitions are national calls for entry. So when the pandemic hit, we were already halfway through the process,” said Cruz. The gallery received 162 submissions for the show.

Originally scheduled for July 11 to August 8, Cruz wisely decided to move the show to September and October in hopes the gallery would then be open for visitors,” she said.

Precautions have been taken to provide a safe environment for visitors using the guidelines from the New York State Dept. of Health NY Forward site. “Masks and social distancing are required and temperatures are taken upon arrival with a contactless thermometer,” explained Cruz. “We wipe down all high touch surfaces … ie: door knobs, entry ways, any surfaces touched by visitors, with CDC approved anti-viral wipes. We have constructed a plastic barrier for the office and schedule regular cleanings as required.”

Exhibiting artists include Amal, Shain Bard, Karl Bourke, Renee Brown, Charis J Carmichael Braun, Alberto Carol, Linda Ann Catucci, Sarah Ciampa, Aleta Crawford, William Dodge, Daniel Donato, Caro Dranow, Evee Erb, Megan K. Euell, John Fitzsimmons, Cori Forster, Nicholas Frizalone, Elizabeth Fusco, Symmes Gardner, Ashley Gillin, Emily Halper, Seth Harris, William Karaffa, Donna Kunz, Jane Langley, Thomas Legaspi, PJ Marzullo, Liz Jorg Masi, Kerri McKay, Clifford Miller, Joseph Miller, Joseph A. Miller, Indu Ramkumar, Doug Reina, Michele Riche, Audrey Rodriguez, Robert Roehrig, Oscar Santiago, Gia Schifano, Hannah Steele, Daniel van Benthuysen, Diane Varano, Robert Whistler, Janice Yang, and Patty Yantz.

Winners were chosen by juror Max Ginsberg, one of the most respected and highly accomplished realist painters today. The alla prima (painting directly on canvas without a preliminary drawing) oil painter is often praised for his political and social commentaries and for bringing to life on canvas the struggles of everyday people in his New York City home. His fine art has been exhibited and collected widely and has received countless major awards. The artist has taught art for 60 years and offers workshops around the country and abroad in his commitment to inspire today’s artists to master realism painting.

“I was very fortunate to connect with Max Ginsburg. I have never presented an exhibit of Realism here at Mills Pond and in speaking with Max about the exhibit, we both agreed that the show should be open to all styles of Realism since we shared the goal of encouraging artists to continue to pursue this wonderful style of painting,” said Cruz, adding, “[He] is held in such high regard in the art world and many of our entrants expressed that the reason for entering this exhibit was for the opportunity to have their work under the eye and possible selection by Max.”

Preparing for the exhibit has been a joy for the director. “I love this exhibit for many reasons. The art is technically wonderful … there is a wide variety of subject matter and styles … which is a testament to the skills and passion of our juror. He truly selected works based on their artistic quality and skill level, not simply looking for works that were similar to his own style or social realism subject,” said Cruz.

Best in Show ($1200 cash prize) was awarded to “Look” by Joseph A. Miller of Buffalo; second place ($800 cash prize) went to “My Guest, Lorena” by Hannah Steele of Pennsylvania and third place ($400 cash prize) was awarded to “Blue Beauty” by Liz Jorg Masi of Smithtown.

“Christine” by Charis J. Carmichael Braun of Northport; “Shaded Lily Pond” by Aleta Crawford  of Manhasset; “The Spanish Poet” by Karl Bourke of Huntington Station; “In the Frontline” by Alberto Carol of Florida; and “Father” by Hannah Steele of Pennsylvania received Honorable Mentions.

Cruz is excited to share this unique exhibit with the public. “Personally I have always believed that art is an essential and valuable component of communication. Think about how people from past civilizations communicated about their lives through cave drawings … What future generations learn about our times will partially be communicated through the art of our times. I was so hopeful that the gallery would be able to open to allow visitors to have an additional way of looking at the world … we have television, radio, internet, and for many, art is another method of exploring contemporary issues in the world.”

The Mills Pond Gallery, located at 660 Route 25A, St. James, will present Contemporary Realism from Sept. 12 to Oct. 16. Hours are Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org.

We could all use a little humor right now and the Reboli Center for Art and History’s playful new exhibit Wild and Wonderful by artist Vicki Sawyer may be the perfect inspiration. The show opens Sept. 3 and runs through Nov. 1.

Vicki Sawyer is a nationally recognized fine art painter whose whimsical animal and bird portraits have been a sensation. After a three year interval since her last exhibit at the Reboli Center, the artist is back with twenty five new paintings created especially for this unique exhibit.

Sawyer now lives in Franklin, TN but before her move, she was a resident of Stony Brook for fifteen years. During the time she resided on Long Island, she worked with Eva Glaser and Helen Del Guercio doing faux finishes and then began painting commissioned murals. She is one of the artists who attended an outdoor class taught by Joe Reboli. In that workshop, Sawyer says that she learned about being aware of the darkest darks and lightest lights. She applies that knowledge to her paintings today.

Sawyer’s current paintings spring from a walk a few years ago, when it occurred to her that if birds could build nests, they could make hats. For the last 11 years that walk has been her inspiration for her highly successful and collectible bird and animal portraits. She has been quoted as saying that her works are seriously painted, but whimsical. These portraits combine her love of nature and her goal of evoking feelings of peace, joy, and often humor.

Sawyer has painted more than 2,500 paintings of birds and other animals wearing natural hats! Her images have been so popular that they grace numerous products carried in the Reboli Center Design Shop. Vicki Sawyer’s connections to our community, to her many friends here, to Joe Reboli as well as her remarkable portraits make for a fascinating and entertaining exhibit.

The gallery will host a free Zoom Third Friday event with a conversation between Sawyer and Reboli Center President Lois Reboli on Sept. 18. Those who wish to be a part of the Zoom call and who are not presently a part of the email list of the Reboli Center, should contact the gallery by calling 631-751-7707 or by emailing the Center at [email protected] to receive a link to the event.

In conjunction with Wild and Wonderful, an additional exhibit in the History Gallery will highlight the many educational activities and conservation efforts of the Four Harbors Audubon Society.

The Reboli Center for Art and History, located at 64 Main Street in Stony Brook, is dedicated to preserving the legacy of artist Joseph Reboli and to foster a meaningful understanding and appreciation for culture and the traditional arts through exhibitions and educational programs.

Operating hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.ReboliCenter.org.

'Mandush, Shinnecock Sachem of the 17th century' by David Bunn Martine

Preservation Long Island will launch a new virtual exhibition, Indigenous History & Art at Good Little Water Place, beginning Sept. 3. Artwork from nine contemporary Indigenous artists centers the exhibit. Offering an inquisitive look at the history and on-going relations between Indigenous people and land, the show reminds viewers of a shared responsibility to recognize our common histories and know how they impact our connections to place.

Organized by Preservation Long Island with guest curators, Jeremy Dennis, artist and a tribal member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Southampton, and Dr. Gwendolyn Saul, Curator of Ethnography, New York State Museum, the exhibition features objects from the collections of Preservation Long Island, the New York State Museum, and the Southold Indian Museum.

“We are thrilled this important exhibition, that began as a collaborative endeavor with the New York State Museum in the Fall of 2019, could be reimagined in the virtual realm,” said Alexandra Wolfe, Preservation Long Island’s Executive Director. “Thanks to the efforts of the project curators, partner museums, and artists, the provocative insights that Long Island Indigenous art offers about history and environment, and the future of our relations to both is now accessible to a wider audience online.”

“The exhibit features indigenous presence and expression from 10,000 years ago to the present — and I am proud and excited to be a part of representing this collective,” said Dennis. “I’m honored to be part of a project that directs attention to the diligent, on-going, and talented work of Indigenous artists and intellectuals of what is now known as Long Island,” added Saul.

Sponsored by an Action Grant from Humanities New York, the exhibition will open with a special Curator Conversations virtual event on Sept. 3 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Visit www.preservationlongisland.org to register for this free program.

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‘I believe each painting has a story to tell and a connection to make. My paintings are an effort to share an experience, an emotion, or a memory of a place and time.’

By Irene Ruddock

William A. Dodge

William A. Dodge is an award-winning artist classically trained in the tradition of the old masters. He studied at the Stevenson Academy of Traditional Painting before beginning a career in illustration. He has created more than six hundred book covers for most of the major publishers in New York, as well as a wide variety of private commissions ranging from murals to portraits. He continues to paint and has been a faculty member of the Visual Communications Department at SUNY Farmingdale for more than twenty years.

As a lifelong Long Island resident, what do you enjoy about painting on the Island?

I have always enjoyed the open landscapes of the North Fork and the waterfront areas of the South Shore. We have an abundance of really diverse subjects to choose from throughout the Island. Paint what you know.

Do you have a favorite Long Island artist?

I would have to say William Merritt Chase for his paintings of Long Island. Although he probably wouldn’t qualify as an Islander, he did give us some of the finest depictions of late nineteenth century life on Long Island. His 1888 painting “Back of a Nude” is one of my all-time favorites.

Where else do you like to paint?

I like New York city street scenes, especially in the snow. I like that the muted tones help expose the composition somewhat like a black and white photo. Over the past few years, I have probably completed more paintings of Venice than any other city. People might say, “just what the world needs, another painting of Venice,” but I can’t help myself, so out they come.

What inspires you to begin a painting?

It always comes down to telling a story, capturing a moment or examining a concept.

Tell me about your common ancestor, the renowned artist William de Leftwich Dodge (1867-1935), who designed the classical Villa Francesca in Setauket.

Yes, we both share a common ancestry with Tristram Dodge (1607-1683) of New Shoreham (Block Island), Rhode Island.

How do you answer the age-old question: Are you born with extraordinary talent or is it developed?

Nature or nurture? I think it’s a little of both. Much like learning another language in a bilingual family, art and music are just different languages. I know that my skills as an artist were learned. Was I predisposed to pay attention to the specifics of painting rather than those of high finance? Probably. Is that talent? I don’t know. I do know Malcom Gladwell’s rule of Ten Thousand hours.

What is the best part of being an artist?

There is satisfaction from creating something from nothing; communicating in a purely visual sense and making a thought visible.

And the most difficult part?

Most times it’s just deciding what to paint!

What do you do if you hit a roadblock in a painting?

Most often I examine value first, then composition followed by color. I apply the rules I know to be true about each and just keep at it. Sometimes it’s a quick fix and others are happy accidents, but they are always a learning experience.

I have always let a painting progress as I go. You never know when one perfect brush stroke or the placement of the wrong color is going to change the entire direction of a painting. If painting was just a copy of a reference or a scene it would technically be easy, but that’s not art.

What did you like about your career in illustrations?

It was being able to put my interpretation of a great descriptive or pivotal moment in a book on the cover. I especially liked illustrating the classics and had to wonder what Charles Dickens would have thought of my choices.

What other artists inspire you?

I’ll start with my short list of those from the golden age of American illustration. Artists like Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Harvey Dunn, Norman Rockwell, Haddon Sundblom, and Dean Cornwell were my go to guys. I admire the English pre-Raphaelites, and I am truly inspired by the French Impressionists, especially the lesser known Henri Le Sidaner. I have always been drawn to works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Hieronymus Bosch.

Do you seek out opportunities to see these paintings in person?

Over the years my wife and I have traveled throughout Europe to see as many of their original works as possible. I’m fascinated by Bruegel’s sixteenth century genre paintings depicting the everyday lives and traditions of the common people. Again and again I find myself examining Bosch’s fifteenth and sixteenth century works for insights into the human psyche and the fear of those things that went bump in the night, before science explained them all away.

What advice would you give other artists?

Learn and practice the technical aspects associated with your chosen medium, but don’t mistake that for art. Art is the combination of imagination and skill. To work in a particular avenue like realism or impressionism, you need to know those rules. My advice is “Don’t allow your imagination to be hindered by a lack of technical proficiency.”

How did the Impressionists change the world of art?

Most of the late nineteenth  century impressionists were classically trained artists who were able to take all of the same rules governing the traditional artistic standards such as light and shadow, values, color theory, composition and perspective and create a completely new form of art.

Being well versed in the technical aspects of their craft gave them the ability to bend the rules when needed and break the rules with authority.

There seems to be a bit of impressionism in your work. Do you feel an affinity with the artists who studied in Paris in the nineteenth century?

Affinity might not be the right word.  Maybe thankful is a better choice for how I feel. Their ground breaking works gave all artists a view to a clearer path for self-expression.

I know that you have won many awards. Has there been one that has meant the most to you?

No. I think when you win an award you have to remember that you made a connection with just one person, the judge. Many of what I consider my finest works have never won anything. For myself and most artists, awards are not why we paint. 

How do you wish to expand on your style?

I have gravitated towards a more impressionistic style, and I can’t think of any artist on any level that has gotten tighter as their career progressed. A quicker direct approach to “less is more” is the ultimate goal. 

I see that you have three websites which point to three different aspects of your art career. Can you tell me about that?

I have www.billdodgestudios.com which is a showcase for my past illustration work.

I have www.wadodge.com which is a showcase for my current fine art.

I also have www.newthreshold.com for my woodworking and design work.

Are there future shows where we can see your work?

I will be part of the upcoming Mills Pond Gallery exhibit in St. James called Contemporary Realism which runs from September 12 through October 16. If all goes well in the world, I hope to show with the Setauket Artists in the Setauket Neighborhood House in October, the Atelier at Flowerfield in St. James in December, and Deepwells Mansion in St. James sometime in the spring. 

'Us' by William King, 1996, brushed stainless steel. Image courtesy of Heckscher Museum

Some good news: The Heckscher Museum of Art will reopen on Aug. 1.

Visitors will finally be able to see the incredible artwork from Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at the Heckscher Museum and Amanda Valdez: Piecework in person (through Heckscher at Home, the museum had presented these exhibitions virtually) as well as a new installation titled Balancing Act: Three Sculptures by William King. The mini-exhibition features whimsical works by Long Island sculptor William King who was known for his ability to breathe life into static sculptures, especially these stainless steel pieces that at first glance look precariously balanced.

“This is the first time that all three of King’s sculptures from the museum collection are on view together,” noted curator Karli Wurzelbacher. “The themes they address are central to our shared human experience and strike me as especially timely. The need for social distancing means that the gatherings and activities that usually take place in the museum’s lobby are on pause. I’m thrilled that King’s freewheeling figures can populate the space and greet our visitors as they return!”

To ensure all visitors’ safety, admission will be by advance reservation and timed ticketing only. Frequent cleaning schedules are in place and the museum will be a touch-free experience. New modified hours, updated admission policies, and complete health and safety guidelines can be found at www.heckscher.org/reopening. For the time being, admission will be free. To reserve your ticket, visit www.heckscher.org or call 631-380-3230.

Above, a painting of Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket by artist John Koch at a previous Wet Paint Festival. Photo courtesy of Gallery North

By Melissa Arnold

It’s been a tough season for the plethora of local events that have either been canceled, postponed or restructured. Thankfully, technology like livestreaming and video chat have made it possible for some events to go on as scheduled, albeit a bit differently.

For the past 16 years, the Wet Paint Festival has given Three Village residents and visitors an up close look at the creative process of local artists as they work. The event was founded to honor the memory of beloved Long Island painter Joe Reboli, who died in 2004.

But inviting artists and community members to gather for creative fun and conversation doesn’t exactly fit in this quarantined, socially distant time. So what to do?

It’s been a baptism by fire of sorts for Ned Puchner of Gallery North in Setauket, which has sponsored the event from its beginnings. Puchner, who became the gallery’s executive director in December, was looking forward to his first Wet Paint Festival. Now, he’s been called upon to dream up an alternative.

“It’s been one of those unique experiences where you get to know people really fast,” Puchner joked. “But I’ve also learned very quickly how much support there is here for the arts and the art community, even despite the pandemic and its challenges. It’s been very encouraging for me to see that outpouring.”

Originally founded by former Gallery North director Colleen Hanson and the Reboli family, the Wet Paint Festival invites artists from Long Island and beyond for a relaxed weekend of plein air (outdoor) painting. The artists paint at the same location from vantage points of their choosing, allowing each put their own spin on well-known scenes and landmarks.

In the past, the festival has been held at West Meadow Beach and the adjoining Old Field Farm, Frank Melville Memorial Park, the Stony Brook railroad, the Thompson House, and Avalon Park & Preserve, among other places.

This year’s event will celebrate each artist’s originality as Wet Paint goes virtual. Painting sessions will be either livestreamed online or pre-recorded from a location the artist selects, whether it’s their own backyard or a public spot. During each session, the artist will talk about their creative process and take questions from viewers, just as they would in person.

To accommodate for the new format, the artists will paint for an entire week, from July 18 through July 25. The completed artwork will then be on display on the Gallery North website throughout the month of August.

The virtual festival is the latest in Gallery North’s ongoing effort to provide engaging online experiences during the pandemic.

“We had the Wet Paint Festival completely planned and were starting to gather sponsors and registrants when we had to close the gallery on March 14. When we closed, we decided to postpone the event, not realizing how long we would be unable to function and be outside,” Puchner explained.

“As time went on, we took it as an opportunity to get creative not only with Wet Paint, but with everything we do,” he said. The gallery began to share daily art activities, host “virtual open studio” events, film screenings, lectures, and opportunities to give and receive feedback on work in progress. As the staff grew more comfortable with video chat platforms such as Zoom, they knew they had to find a way to present the Wet Paint Festival, too.

Angela Stratton of Selden has enjoyed painting at the festival for the past 15 years, and while she’ll miss the connection and camaraderie of the typical event, she’s excited to see what comes of the online version.

“I’m the kind of person that likes to be outside anyway, so getting to paint at the same time is really a double treasure,” said Stratton, an oil painter. “Of course, there can be issues with painting outdoors ­— the sun goes in and out, it can be windy, it can rain — but it gives you the real depth of color you just can’t get from a photo.”

Stratton is still up in the air about where she’ll be painting, but she enjoys the challenge provided by the Old Field lighthouse.

Annette Napolitano, a realist painter who works in both watercolor and oil, would normally go out once a week to paint with a group of friends. She’s participated in Wet Paint for several years now.

“The first time I did the festival, I was so excited to be with the other artists, all of us working in the same place. The world is so big, and it can be a challenge to grab just a piece of it,” said Napolitano, of Rocky Point.

“I think bringing the festival online is a good solution because it’s like a pop-up event — people can come and go as they please. It’s also nice that we have a whole week to work, and it’s going to be fun to see people share their work from different parts of Long Island,” she said.

Puchner hopes that the event will inspire creativity not only in the participating artists, but people at home as well.

“At the center of the arts is expression. Everyone has had different experiences during the pandemic, but it has been significant for all of us,” he said. “There’s a fundamental need to discuss how we’re feeling, and the arts are a safe space for expression of all kinds.”

Livestreamed and recorded artist visits will be available for public viewing the week of July 27 at www.gallerynorth.org. Then, all completed works will be on the site for viewing and purchase throughout the month of August, with commissions split equally between the artist and the gallery. A virtual reception will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Aug. 8 via Zoom; registration is free but required.

For further information, visit www.gallerynorth.org or call 631-751-2676.

*Article from TBR News Media’s Summer Times 2020, free on newstands today.

Hog Wild
A visual and virtual feast for the eyes opens in Huntington

By Melissa Arnold

As the Heckscher Museum of Art marks 100 years since its founding this year, they have taken time to explore both the past and future through art.

Over the next few months, the Huntington museum will exhibit the work of contemporary abstract artist Amanda Valdez, whose deep appreciation for art history, beauty and feminism have led her to a unique and interesting style. While Valdez has an extensive commercial exhibition history from coast to coast, this will be just the second time she’s exhibited a range of paintings from various points in her career.

log punch

“I came to art as a teenager by the grace of an amazing high school art teacher. I had the false assumption that artists were the kids who draw naturally and render everything they could see to everyone’s astonishment,” said Valdez, 37, of New York City. “My teacher exposed me to the concept that art could be learned — that I had a creative pulse — so if I worked hard I could make something with that pulse.”  

The exhibit, titled Amanda Valdez: Piecework, is aptly named for the way the artist creates complex works of art with a variety of techniques, including embroidery, sewing and painting.

“While we think of a painting as putting paint on a canvas, [Amanda] reminds us that canvas is, in fact, cloth. She hand-dyes other types of cloth and sews them to the canvas to create her works of art,” explained Karli Wurzelbacher, curator at the Heckscher Museum. “The different types of media she combines are very interesting. For example, embroidery is very feminine — she likes to celebrate feminine things. But while embroidered fabrics are usually delicate, she works with thick, heavy layers. She also hand-dyes her own fabric. She even lent the museum her dye notebook, where she keeps track of how she achieves certain colors.”

Amanda Valdez

Wurzelbacher said she’s been aware of Valdez for about 10 years — they both studied at CUNY’s Hunter College, albeit in different programs. Wurzelbacher always found Valdez’s work beautiful and interesting, and thought that she would be a good fit for this historic milestone at the museum.

“We’re dedicating a lot of time to looking back through our history and where the museum has been, as well as looking forward into the next 100 years,” the curator explained. “Amanda is a contemporary artist in the middle of her career. Part of her practice is looking back at art history and then making something new out of that. She also celebrates the traditional ways that women have made things — textiles, embroidery, sewing, dye, quilting — while also tapping into modernist history and ideas. She marries those two traditions and brings them into dialogue with each other.”

Valdez said she enjoys abstract art for its ability to portray aspects of humanity without having to assign elements of age, gender or nationality in a painting. “Human history is endlessly inspiring to me. I find moments of interest, such as Islamic patterning, women’s history as told through fiber objects, or pagan iconography in Renaissance art, and I spend time researching these moments and movements, and slowly let it seep into my work. I love thinking about all the things all the humans have made with their hands over time,” she said.  

Nine Patch Tanit

The exhibit features a total of 19 paintings chronicling Valdez’s career from 2013 through 2019. She has also included one pencil sketch to show a bit of the preparation and brainstorming behind her artistic process.

The included paintings show an evolution in style over time, Wurzelbacher said. “Diamond Pressure,” a piece from 2013, has minimal embroidery and features bleeding, blending acrylic paints. Later pieces include more complex embroidery or the use of oil sticks, which can be handheld like pastels for a more immediate mark.

The unique exhibit will be on display at the same time as the Long Island’s Best exhibit, a juried collection of art from 100 high school students from Nassau and Suffolk Counties with impressive artistic talent. Wurzelbacher said she believes the young artists and their loved ones will appreciate sharing space with Valdez as a relatable contemporary and possible inspiration.

“This is the first time Amanda’s work is being made accessible right here in our community, and while it’s beautiful to see in print and online, it’s even more impressive viewed in person,” Wurzelbacher said. “You’ll get to see the incredible detail, colors, layers and textures in each piece. It’s special.”

Fourth place winner 'Check Mate' by Bridget Buckmaster

The Heckscher Museum in Huntington has announced the top prize winners for its 2020 Long Island’s Best: Young Artists show.

Now in its 24th year, Long Island’s Best is the only juried exhibition for Long Island high school students that provides the opportunity to exhibit in a museum. Students are encouraged to think outside the box as they work in a broad range of media, styles, and subjects.

This year there were more than 388 student submissions, representing 58 participating high schools. Jurors selected 100 as finalists. The following students were awarded the top four prizes. 

Best in Show: ‘Prismatic Bubble’ by Stephanie Lopez

Stephanie Lopez, an 11th grader at Hicksville High School, captured the Celebrate Achievement Best in Show for her acrylic painting titled “Prismatic Bubble.” 

Matthew Diesing, Grade 11, John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore won second place, the Judith Sposato Memorial Prize, for his oil pastel, “A Seat at the Table.”

Micarlys Ramirez, a senior at Brentwood High School, was awarded third place, The Hadley Prize, for her acrylic on canvas piece, “Ydelim in a Green Chair.”

Northport High School junior Bridget Buckmaster garnered Fourth Place, The Stan Brodsky Scholarship Award, for her digital photograph titled “Check Mate.” 

Bridget is the first to receive a Long Island’s Best Stan Brodsky Scholarship Award. Stan Brodsky (1924-2019) was a Long Island artist, teacher and friend to the Museum. Generous donations from members, friends, and former students, endowed the scholarship, to be given every year in memory of the artist.

The Firefly Artist Gallery, Northport, has also donated a new award for a deserving Long Island’s Best student. Voting for the Virtual Visitors Choice Award will be open on Heckscher.org beginning April 24. 

The Long Island’s Best experience begins with students visiting the Museum where they see and discuss works on view. Each student then chooses a work of art as an inspiration piece. They go on to create an original artwork and write an Artist’s Statement explaining their creative process.  

Jurors for the 2020 exhibition were Karli Wurzelbacher, Curator, The Heckscher Museum of Art; and guest juror Nancy Richner, Director (retired), Hofstra University Museum of Art. “[As a juror], I hoped to gain a sense of the high school artist’s curiosity and response to this challenge set before them,” said Richner. “I can’t imagine a better feeling of affirmation and support for students. Long Island’s Best fosters students’ sense of curiosity and daringness to engage and try – and everyone wins – students, community, the art world – and of course, the Museum!”

To see all 100 images and all of this year’s award winners, visit www.Heckscher.org.

Photo courtesy of The Heckscher Museum of Art

The Heckscher Museum of Art’s board of trustees and staff join me in wishing you good health and hope you remain in good spirits during these challenging times.

Like many cultural organizations across Long Island, and around the world, the museum has found new ways to engage the community.

Although the museum is physically closed, the new Heckscher.org is a vibrant resource full of wonderful art experiences. Through the “Heckscher at Home” initiative, virtual exhibitions, fun Kids Edition video art projects, and additional ways to interact are at your fingertips. I invite you to browse Heckscher.org and let art be a respite.

Every year at this time we celebrate talented high school students in the exhibition Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at the Heckscher Museum. The 100 students chosen for the 2020 exhibition are featured online and on social media, including students representing the communities of Huntington, Northport, King’s Park, Smithtown and many others across Suffolk and Nassau Counties. Among the rewards of being a Long Island’s Best artist is the chance to see their own work of art in a professional museum setting. Although that opportunity is delayed, it is a promise we are committed to keeping.

When The Heckscher Museum opens — with proper guidance from public safety recommendations — enjoy two wonderful exhibitions, Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at the Heckscher Museum, and Amanda Valdez: Piecework.

Thank you to all who support The Heckscher Museum of Art at this time. Enjoy all of the online and social media content that the museum is providing.  We look forward to a bright future and to inviting everyone back to the museum.

Michael W. Schantz

Executive Director and CEO

The Heckscher Museum of Art