ALFRED VAN LOEN
Origin / Labrador granite / 1963
Alfred Van Loen was a prolific artist whose career spanned a half century. He was born in 1924 in Germany and sent to Holland to be educated. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Amsterdam. He immigrated to the United States following World War II and taught art at Vassar, Hunter College and Columbia University. He taught at C.W. Post for over 20 years.
His work is characterized by a spiritual connection to nature. Works like Origin in the Islip Art Museum Permanent Collection are organic in shape and hint at worlds beyond lived reality.
One of his most well-known works is the four foot square chess set with bronze figures that is in the Permanent Collection of the Metropolitan Museum. The chess set, Liberty vs Slaver, was the centerpiece of a popular exhibit that coincided with the first international chess game collectors meeting in New York.
Van Loen died in 1993. His works are in major collections, private and public.
FRANK W. WIMBERLEY
Traffic / Silk screen print, 36 colors / 1984
Frank Wimberley is a well-known painter who has exhibited work in group and solo shows on Long Island and in Manhattan. At 92, he recently exhibited a large scale work he made specifically for the Southampton Arts Center.
An African American and activist, Wimberley consciously works in an art style that does not reflect ethnic or gender identity. Throughout his long career he has steadfastly embraced abstraction, emphasizing the properties of paint and the formal elements of composition and color. “I am a painter and reflect myself as a painter,” he says.
Born in 1926 in Pleasantville, NJ, he studied art at Howard University with James Porter, Lois Mailou and James Wells. While a student, he also played jazz and later became friends with musicians such as Miles Davis, Ron Carter, and Wayne Shorter. He moved with his wife Juanita to New York and to Azurest, the historic Black community in Sag Harbor, in the early 60’s. His work is in the permanent collections of the Wadsworth Athenaeum, the Yale University Art Gallery and the major Museums on Long Island. Phyllis Braff, as art critic for The New York Times, wrote a book about Wimberley, his life and his development has an important painter of the last century.
Street Signs for the Hearing Impaired / Metal, enamel, dimensions variable. / 1992
Martin Wong was given a residency in the New York City Department of Transportation in the early 1990’s where he created his most famous body of work. With their familiar shapes and colors, his street signs meet traffic regulations in every way, but spell out instructions in American Sign Language instead of the alphabet. He was given an award by Mayor David Dinkins for this project, and for his ongoing focus on the plight of the city’s marginalized and overlooked populations.
Wong’s work explores racial and ethnic identity, and has its roots in his own experiences as a gay Chinese American. The artist lived in the Lower East Side where he painted scenes of the life around him, often depicting identities that were not his own. Taken together, his paintings of his neighborhood are a lasting legacy describing the 1980’s counter-culture.
Wong was born in 1946 in California, educated at Humbolt University and moved to Manhattan in the late 70’s. His work is in the Permanent Collections of the Metropolitan Museum, the Bronx Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He died of AIDS in 1999.
Richard B. Ziello
52,000 Nails / Wood, epoxy, steel / 1994-96
Richard Ziello is a sculptor whose success as a bespoke framer of famous art works leaves him little time to create his own art. The New York Times described him as an aesthetician with “a knack for complementing a canvas, from Motherwell to Matisse.” He has received commissions from major galleries such as Ameringer Yohe Fine Art Gallery and from world-renowned figures such as the estate of Hans Hofmann.
An unknown artist at the time, Ziello entered 52,000 Nails in the Islip Art Museum’s 1992 Open Call. Judges immediately accepted the work, and were enchanted by the sculptor’s ability to turn ordinary brads--a hard, sharp material—into something that resembled the soft fur of a mysterious animal. Following the Open Call exhibition, the Museum accepted the sculpture as a gift from the artist and accessioned it into the Permanent Collection. It is often exhibited and continues to fascinate audiences with its witty manipulation of humble materials. Too busy with commissions, Ziello still neglects his own art. ''I'm like the shoemaker who couldn't afford his own shoes,'' he says.
Doll Series #29 / Iris print on Sommerset etching paper / 1999
The photographs from Nola Zirin’s Doll series convey her mastery of the possibilities within the black and white tonal scale. Because they are Iris prints, they present unique conservation challenges. Introduced in 1985, the Iris printer was designed to make large black and white proofs of color photographs. Since the proofs were not meant to be permanent, ink stability was not a concern. Despite the probability that Iris prints will deteriorate over time, many artists including Zirin experimented with this process because of its unusual range of grey tones. The process is no longer used today. All Iris prints, including the ones on display at the Islip Art Museum, are now considered originals, and rare.
Zirin works in many mediums, including painting, printmaking and sculpture. Her work hovers between abstraction and representation. Her photographs are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection, The Brooklyn Museum and the Library of Congress. She recently had her eighth solo exhibition at June Kelly Gallery in Manhattan.
Zirin was born in 1943, is a native New Yorker and maintains a studio in Long Island City. She received a BA degree from New York University, where she studied with Milton Resnick and George Ortman. She also studied printmaking with Bob Blackburn at his famous print studio and with masterprinter and publisher Donn H. Steward.