Stepping Out

Long Island's art scene

Local artists on view at Heckscher Museum

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Heckscher Museum of Art has opened its exhibit space to Long Island’s top artists as the latest Long Island Biennial exhibition gets underway.

The fifth edition of the juried exhibition, which features varied works from contemporary artists across Nassau and Suffolk counties, opened last week, offering visitors a look at a wide range of mediums and styles from the artists represented.

“The Long Island Biennial is a perfect opportunity for artists to showcase their work to a wide audience, and for art lovers to discover the talent that is flourishing across Suffolk and Nassau Counties,” says Lisa Chalif, the museum’s curator.

“It’s great to be able to highlight the artists in our communities. Visitors can gain an understanding of the arts that exist on Long Island. It’s such a thriving art scene here and we are eager to involve these artists with the museum.”

Over 850 local artists have participated in the exhibit since the Biennial’s opening installation in 2010. This year, the museum received a record 351 entries with 51 works selected for exhibit. And of this group 38 artists are first time exhibitors. With so many new names in the gallery, the exhibit provides a unique and exciting space for visitors to see a snapshot of what is happening artistically on Long Island.

Three judges — Christine Berry, co-owner of New York City’s Berry Campbell Gallery; Robert Carter, Nassau Community College art professor; and Bobbi Coller, an independent art historian-curator, evaluated the submissions.

“The art world needs as many venues as possible for new artists; this is so important and very much appreciated,” says Carter. “The artist entries were surprising in how they varied in media use and subject matter — touching on nature, social issues and more. And, each juror brought their own unique perspective to the judging.”

Through the Biennial the museum has deepened the connections among artists and between artists and the communities in which they live, according to Chalif.

“As we’ve become more established we reach more artists every time we do this,” she says. “It’s always very invigorating to see their range of creativity.”

The artworks on exhibit present a lively cross-section of current artistic practice, including representational and abstract styles, landscapes, still lifes, and sculpture, with themes ranging from the personal to the universal.

Artists on view include Naomi Grossman, of Rockville Centre, with her wire sculpture Connection. “I’m very pleased to be included in the Biennial,” she told the Herald. “Connection is made up of two female figures offering both love and support,  revealing strength and vulnerability in a changing and uncertain world.”

“My sculptures are drawings in space, the wire, like a line drawing, changing in character from thin to thick. Wire reflects the female form which it has a tension (“wired”), strong and flexible, also delicate. Words run through the figures, sometimes legible, sometimes mysterious. Secrets are whispered, fears revealed, connections made.”Warren Infield, of Long Beach, has contributed S.O.S., a a mixed media piece.

“S.O.S is one of a series of works created in my studio overlooking the beach and ocean,” he notes in his artist statement. “These pieces, whether painting, mixed media, or constructions, owe a debt to the colors, changing light, forms, and tracks in the sand that I observed, as well as time of day and the changing seasons at the beach. The proportions and the relationships of sky to water to sand and the boardwalk directly influenced these abstractions.”

Riccarda De Eccher, of Oyster Bay Cove, is represented by Sassolungo, a depiction of the Italian mountain.

“My interest in mountains stems from growing up in the Dolomites, in Northern Italy,” she says. “Through my hiking and climbing I became an avid mountaineer. I scaled the Dolomites and participated in Himalayan expeditions, including Annapurna III in 1977 and Mount Everest in 1980. Later in life I translated my love of mountains by making them the subject of my art. I focused on watercolor also in the difficult large format.”

Other artists on view include Marc Josloff, of Freeport; Nicholas Alberti, of Wantagh; Mario Bakalov, of East Meadow; Paul Mele, of Island Park; Min Myar, of Bellmore; and Tmima Z, of Bellmore.As always, the exhibit experience is enhanced by related programming, featuring participating artists. Upcoming events include a Gallery Talk with Rachelle Krieger, John Cin and Alysa Shea on Sept. 16, 1-3 p.m. Meet and interact with the exhibitors who will discuss their creative process and artistic journey, and share perspectives about what it means to be an artist in today’s society.

Draw Out, on Sept. 23, 12-4 p.m., offers an opportunity to create with Mario Bakalov, E. Craig Marcin and Inna Pashina. Activities include painting by Heckscher Pond, docent tours throughout the museum and entertainment on the terrace, along with face painting and a bean bag toss for the kids. Additional programs include an Art Walk on Oct. 21, 12-4 p.m. with Roshanak Keyghbadi.

Long Island Biennial

When: Through Nov. 11. Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Wednesday- Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Where: Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington. (631) 351-3250 or www.heckscher.org.