Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum opened on April 9 to rave reviews. The number of entries to this year’s competition was record-setting with 357 student works of art submitted from 53 high schools in Suffolk and Nassau Counties. The juried selection narrowed the field to works of art created by 83 students representing 44 schools. The exhibit is on view through May 15.

Scholarships and prizes were awarded to a number of young artists at the Long Island’s Best opening reception held on April 16. Nicole Noel of Valley Stream Central High School (teacher, Mario Bakalov) received the Celebrate Achievement Best in Show Award for a pencil drawing titled “Another Pity.” Huntington High School student Aaron Feltman (teacher, Kristin Singer) was awarded the second-place Judith Sposato Memorial Prize for the mixed media piece “How You See Me Vs. How I See Me.”

Nina Miller of Long Beach High School (teacher, Eric Fox) and Huntington Fine Arts received the third-place Hadley Prize for her sculpture “Reach with No Escape,” and Cory Levy of Sayville High School (teacher, Evan Hammer) received the fourth-place award for the drawing “The Future.”

“The quality of work we receive is exceptional. It is very difficult to narrow the entries to around 80 works for the exhibition,” said Joy Weiner, The Heckscher Museum’s director of education and public programs, in a recent press release. “The Long Island’s Best curriculum is built upon inter-disciplinary learning concepts, and enhances New York State Core Learning Standards for the Arts, Career Development, English Language Arts, and Social Studies. For example, there is a literary component to the program which requires each student to write an ‘artist statement/ to thoughtfully explain their artwork and their experience creating it.”

Nicole Noel won the “Celebrate Achievement Best in Show Award” for a pencil drawing titled “Another Pity.”
Nicole Noel won the “Celebrate Achievement Best in Show Award” for a pencil drawing titled “Another Pity.”

Now in its 20th consecutive year, Long Island’s Best is a hallmark of The Heckscher Museum’s education programs. During the school year, high school students and their teachers visit the museum for in-depth study of, and discussions about, the works of art in the galleries. Students select an “inspirational artwork” to stimulate the creation of an original work back in the classroom. Hundreds of student works are then submitted to the museum’s juried competition. A full-color exhibition catalog is published to accompany the month-long exhibition. The Heckscher Museum’s juried exhibition is the only one of its kind that provides Long Island high school students with the unparalleled opportunity to professionally present their work in a museum setting.

Alongside the Long Island’s Best exhibit will be a companion exhibition titled Celebrating 20 Years: Long Island’s Best Alumni Exhibition, which features a selection of 42 works by past Long Island’s Best artists. Over 4,500 students from Suffolk and Nassau Counties have entered Long Island’s Best prestigious juried exhibition since its inception.

“I was accepted into The Heckscher Museum’s Long Island’s Best exhibitions in both 2004 and 2005, and won awards both times. They were the first shows I ever participated in outside of an academic setting, and the feelings of validation and recognition were — frankly — intoxicating. I truly believe that each of those shows were instrumental in helping me realize that my voice as an artist — even at that young age — was unique, was substantive, and was potentially important,” said Andrew Brischler, Brooklyn-based contemporary artist and former student at Smithtown High School. “I just knew, because of my experiences at the Heckscher, that making art and having people see it was what I was meant to do,” he added. The exhibit will remain on view through May 8.

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. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. For more information, call 631-351-3250 or visit www.heckscher.org.