Suffolk County, with its quaint towns and busy roads, hides many treasures of the art community, from galleries to museums to workshops and more. This article features three of those treasures, highlighting each one’s unique contributions to the art community. The Heckscher Museum holds art history as well as entertainment for the children, and a great story of a philanthropist who only wanted to better the community. The Art League of Long Island is the place that aspiring artists can join together and embark on their journey toward improvement, and it gives them the opportunity to showcase their talents in a small gallery. And the Islip Art Museum is featured in a Long Island monument that has passed through many owners, yet seems to fit best as a home to the arts.
2 Prime Ave., Huntington
In the hills of the North Shore, just past the bustling town of Huntington, rests the peaceful, green, welcoming and well-known Heckscher Park. The park, home to various fairs, concerts, camps and other summer events, is in existence because of one very important Long Island museum: The Heckscher Museum of Art.
The Museum was dedicated to the village of Huntington in 1920, by August Heckscher. It began as a gift of 185 works from the industrialist and real-estate magnate’s collection.
As a philanthropist, Hecksher specialized in the welfare of children and social issues. He dedicated the museum “to the little birds that migrate, and to the little children who fortunately do not.” Thirty six pieces of the original collection still remain in the museum since its opening in 1920.
The Museum is currently featuring the Long Island Biennial, which will run through September 26. This exhibition will display Long Island artists selected from more than 250 entries.
Coinciding with the Biennial is Metropolis: Traveling the World, which displays 30 pieces by American artists who are part of the Museum’s permanent collection. Artists such as William Merritt Chase, Georgia O’Keeffe and Jules Olitski will be on display.
The Museum features many youth programs, always keeping in mind Heckscher’s vision for children. Director of External Affairs Nina Muller says, “The Heckscher Museum of Art serves the community of Long Island by presenting a broad-range of significant exhibitions and art education programs.”
Muller describes these programs as, “grade-specific K-12 educational programs.” They include, “lectures, panel discussions, musical performances and workshops- all designed to encourage inquiry and creativity.”
Prices of admission vary, for Town of Huntington Residents, Adults $6.00, Seniors (62 years) $4.00, Students (10-over) $4.00, Children (under 10) free, Museum members free, Wednesday (2-4:00 p.m.) free, Saturday (11-1:00 p.m.) free. For Non-Residents, Adults $8.00, Seniors (62 years) $6.00, Students (10 and over) $5.00, Children (under 10) free, Museum members, free. The park is open to the public for free.
107 E. Deer Park Rd., Dix Hills
The Art League of Long Island in Dix Hills is a relatively small gallery that stands for much more than displaying art. The not-for-profit organization is, according to its website, “dedicated to broad-based visual arts education, providing a forum and showcase for artists of all ages and ability levels.”
The Art League opened in 1955, and has continued to help build Long Island’s cultural consciousness by highlighting the appreciation and practice of visual arts. The center is home to visual arts instruction of more than 3,000 students per year. The League offers more than 150 classes and workshops each quarter. On display are examples of students’ watercolor, drawing and painting, printmaking, pastel sculpture and jewelry, clay, computer graphics, decorative arts, and samples from the ongoing open studios for adults and teens.
The information desk as you enter the center is staffed with informative members prepared to point you in the direction of your interests. Stop in from Monday-Friday 9-4:00 p.m., or Saturday and Sunday from 11-4:00 p.m.
50 Irish Ln., East Islip
The Islip Art Museum is an important part of Long Island’s history and now is home to two different art galleries. The Brookwood Hall is home to the permanent collection as well as bigger displays, and the Carriage House is a center for experimental art. The site is the original location of Stellenwerf’s Lake House Hotel, until 1894.
Brookwood Hall is the converted 41-room mansion built by H.K. Knapp in 1903. After being passed down to his son, and then sold to Francis B. Thorne in 1929, the mansion became too much for the Thorne family. They then sold it to the Orphan Asylum Society of Brooklyn in 1942, who then sold it to Alfred and Fred Wimmer in 1965, who held onto it for two years, before selling it to the Town of Islip in 1967.
According to the Museum, “Given the estate’s link to musical and cultural history it is fitting that Brookwood Hall is now the Islip Art Museum and the offices of the Islip Arts Council.” The link referred to is Francis Thorne Jr., and his success as a musician and composer.
Currently in Brookwood Hall, the exhibition on display is “All In The Family,” which will remain there until September 5. The collection of random artists and their portrayal of a traditional family is presented by guest curator Jason Paradis. He invited all artists to submit a piece of work to add to the collection, which includes many different forms of art, such as photography, painting, sculptures and others.
Like the other museums mentioned, the Islip Museum of Art also offers classes for adults and children, such as plen-air painting, impressionist, watercolor, Asian brush painting, decorative faux finish projects, oil and acrylic painting, life study, still-life and others.
The grounds also feature a tennis court, baseball field, playground, picnic area, and a fantastic view of the lake. With the combination of history and art, it is possible for one to be lost on the property for a day, simply taking it all in.
Museum hours are Wednesday-Saturday 10-4:00 p.m., and Sunday 12-4:00 p.m., the admission is free to the public with a suggested donation of $3.00.