The Island Today: Capturing ebbs, flows of the sea

Grace McQuade

Eugene Louis Boudin. L’Arrivée des Barques à Berck. 1890. Oil on canvas. 20 x 29-1/2 in. Gift of Robin Hadley 2012.3.2.

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever” are words attributed to the late French naval officer, explorer, conservationist, scientist, filmmaker and author Jacques Cousteau, who spent his career studying the sea and all forms of life in water.

These words are also featured in a new art exhibit, Ebb & Flow: Seascape and Shoreline Views, that is currently showing at the Heckscher Museum of Art located at 2 Prime Ave. in Huntington.

The exhibition debuted in August and will be on view through Sunday, Nov. 12.

This is the first time the Heckscher Museum has dedicated an entire exhibit to the theme of seascapes, a subject that should hold particular interest on Long Island given its surrounding shores.

William Merritt Post. A Bend in the River. n.d. Oil on canvas. 30 x 40 in. August Heckscher Collection 1959.22.

Since the 17th century, the sea has captured the imagination of countless artists who have explored diverse aspects of the planet’s waterways in tranquil views of rivers, harbors and coastlines; tempestuous images of storms, shipwrecks and sea monsters; and depictions of the unique atmospheric effects of the coastal environment.

Featuring more than 50 works from the museum’s permanent collection, the Ebb & Flow exhibit includes paintings, prints and photographs by many artists, including Reynolds Beal, Eugene Boudin, Alfred Thompson Bricher, Stan Brodsky, Edward and Thomas Moran, Roy Nicholson, Jules Olitski, Betty Parsons, Maurice Prendergast and William Trost Richards, among others.

Working across a broad range of styles, these artists have created views of picturesque seaside life, expansive images of sea and surf, and abstract works of light and color.

Here you will see images that capture all aspects of the shoreline and the objects and species associated with it — boats, birds, clouds, sunsets, rocks, waves and the endless horizon.

Alfred Thompson Bricher. The Watch Tower. n.d. Oil on canvas. 15 x 33 in. August Heckscher Collection 1959.33.

To coincide with the exhibit, the museum will sponsor a hands-on workshop, Plein Air Painting at Dove/Torr Cottage, on Saturday, Sept. 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A collaboration with the Art League of Long Island, the instructional workshop begins at 11 a.m. with a tour of the Ebb & Flow exhibit at the museum.

Participants can get inspired by the seascapes on view and then join landscape painter and instructor Doug Reina for this one-day plein air workshop at the historic cottage home of the late artists, Arthur Dove and Helen Torr.

Located on picturesque Titus Mill Pond at 30 Centershore Road in Centerport, the event will include a picnic on the Dove/Torr grounds at 12 p.m., and then the group will spend the afternoon experiencing the lure of plein air painting — painting and drawing in the landscape.

Rubens Santoro. Grand Canal, Venice. n.d. Oil on canvas. 14-1/2 x 19-1/2 in. August Heckscher Collection 1959.71.

The practice goes back for centuries, but was truly made into an art form by the French Impressionists.

Now, those 18 years and older are welcome to attend this workshop to learn more and are advised to bring their own art supplies (drawing and painting) and a brown bag lunch.

Registration for this event is required by visiting

The Heckscher Museum is also hosting a Heckscher Family Hour on Sunday, Sept. 17 from 1 to 2 p.m.

Children ages 5 to 10 years and their families are invited to join museum educator Tami Wood for a family-friendly tour of Ebb & Flow and experience the artwork through close inspection, lively conversation and hands-on gallery projects.

Stow Wengenroth. Maine Tapestry. n.d. Lithograph on paper. 14-15/16 x 10-7/8 in. Bequest of Mrs. John H. Livingston 2001.24.10.

Space for this event is limited so registration is recommended.

To register, call 631-351-3250.

The Heckscher Museum of Art serves the people of the Town of Huntington and surrounding communities.

Through exhibitions of its permanent and loan collections of art and related museum programs, it seeks to provide inspiring and transformative educational experiences to encourage a broader understanding of our past and present and enrich the quality of life of the individuals it serves.

The renowned American modernist Arthur Dove lived in Huntington with his artist wife, Helen Torr, from 1924 to 1946.

For many of these years, they lived aboard their 42-foot yawl in Huntington harbor.

In 1938, they purchased a cottage on the banks of Titus Mill Pond in Centerport, just three miles from the Heckscher Museum of Art, where they lived for the rest of their lives.

In late 1998, the Heckscher Museum acquired the Dove/Torr Cottage with the generous assistance of the Times-Mirror Corporation and the New York Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Arthur Dove. Sketch for Land and Seascape. 1941. Watercolor and crayon on paper. 4 x 5-1/2 in. Gift of Mr. William C. Dove 1977.1.1

In 2000, the Dove/Torr Cottage was one of only 20 historic artists’ homes and studios nationwide to be accepted into the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios Program, administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.

In January 2002, the Cottage was named to Save America’s Treasures, a White House Millennium Council initiative focused on “protecting America’s threatened cultural treasures.”

National Trust funding and private contributions, including a generous grant from The Stebbins Fund, has allowed the Heckscher Museum to document and trace the evolution of the building from its earliest use (c. 1880-90) as a post office and general store to its later adaptation as the private residence of Dove and Torr.

In addition to the Cottage, the Heckscher Museum permanent collection includes important gifts received from the estates of both artists: Dove’s personal art library, with books containing color studies and hand-written notes; his paints, painting materials, powdered pigments and palette; examples of early and late work; and a group of more than 30 sketches and color studies by Torr.

For more information about the Heckscher Museum and the Ebb & Flow exhibit, go to

About the author

Grace McQuade

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