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Long Island Biennial: Abstraction abloom at Heckscher Museum

Jeff Muhs'

Jeff Muhs' "Charting Totality," oil on canvas, is one of five Award of Merit winners in the Long Island Biennial 2016 juried exhibition at The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington. Credit: Jeff Muhs

WHAT Long Island Biennial 2016

WHEN | WHERE Saturday through Dec. 4, The Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington. Reception: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 10. Museum hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays, until 8:30 p.m. first Friday of the month

ADMISSION $5-$8 (discounts for Huntington residents), children younger than 10 free, free for all after 5 p.m. on first Fridays; 631-351-3250,

In the 1950s, East Hampton was the epicenter of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Succeeding generations of artists rebelled gently with more representational abstracts or radically with stark minimalism. But if there’s one takeaway from Long Island Biennial 2016, opening Saturday at the Heckscher Museum of Art, it’s that abstracts are back.

“This year, there’s a lot more abstract art,” says Lisa Chalif, curator of the Heckscher. “In previous biennials, we saw more representational, conservative work.”

There’s also more competition to get into the biennial, inaugurated in 2010 with 244 artists applying, nearly 100 fewer than this year’s 336. “It was a real challenge to our jurors who could easily have filled the entire museum,” Chalif says. Instead, 53 selected artworks are showcased in two galleries.

The three jurors who chose which pieces made the cut and which to recognize with awards of merit are a curator, a gallerist and an academic: Christina Mossaides Strassfield of East Hampton’s Guild Hall, Lori Bookstein of her eponymous Manhattan gallery and Seung Lee, LIU Post director of fine arts.

The exhibit includes paintings, photographs, drawings and three-dimensional works of sculpture, woodcarving and multimedia construction. Dramatic black-and-white photos by Alex Ferrone, “Flight — Winter Aerial Observations V” and by Gerry Giliberti, “Zabriskie Point, Death Valley,” are displayed side by side. Jeffrey Allen Price’s “Brickolage Diptych: Cornerstones of Artistic Process,” represents 20 years’ worth of art-making detritus crushed into transparent boxes. Among the abstracts are Hildy Maze’s turbulent “Moment of Illusion to Escape” oil collage and Roisin Bateman’s sharply swirling pastel, “Turning.”

To qualify, an artist must be a Nassau or Suffolk resident entering a work completed in the two years since the 2014 biennial. Here’s a bit of what each Award of Merit winner says about his or her entry.

MONICA BANKS “Hymn,” glazed English porcelain

“Using [porcelain] cakes as pedestals for sculpture makes them domestic monuments to the grief and beauty of everyday life.”

PHILIPPE CHENG Untitled photograph

“My interest and exploration into places that are passed and often not assessed as part of the visual experience . . . represents a fully detailed and mysterious beauty and color.”

LISA FEDERICI “Quilted Heart,” recycled sari ribbons and thread

“I am playing with the juxtaposition of traditional women’s role and modern concepts and ideas. My hope is for the viewer to experience the materials and human body in new and unique ways.”

JEANETTE MARTONE “On the Border,” pencil and ink on paper

“Awareness of the common linkage found in our humanity, the fragility of our cultures and the vulnerability of those living the barest existence, teetering on the edge of life, inspires the foundation of my work.”

JEFF MUHS “Charting Totality,” oil on canvas

“My work has undergone an evolution from its beginnings as literal depictions of the environment, through a journey of synthesis, simplification and abstraction roughly paralleling the history of 20th century art.”

You can read the artists’ full statements next to their art at the Heckscher.

3 artists at Ferrone Gallery

WHAT Alex Ferrone Gallery caps its summer season with “Photo-Technic II,” works by three artists created through alternative processes. Master printmaker Dan Welden is exhibiting images he imprinted using the Solarplate-etching technique he developed. Photographers Gerry Giliberti and Lois Youmans present works developed on gelatin silver chloride contact prints and transfer prints on plaster. A lotus pond serves as backdrop for Welden’s prints using a safer alternative to traditional etching techniques with toxic chemicals. Giliberti presents a series of landscapes bridging classic and contemporary styles, while Youmans captures the transformation of a red pepper plant as it shrivels after she did not water it.

WHEN | WHERE Through Sept. 25, Alex Ferrone Gallery, 25425 Main Rd., Cutchogue. Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays, until 6 p.m. Saturdays

ADMISSION Free; 631-734-8545,


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