Salt Life: Arthur Dove and Helen Torr
November 19, 2023 – March 10, 2024
Helen Torr, Oyster Stakes, 1929. Oil on paperboard, The Heckscher Museum of Art
Gift of Mrs. Mary Rehm
Exhibition Coincides with 25th Anniversary of Historical
Arthur Dove and Helen Torr Cottage
Arthur Dove(1880 – 1946). Untitled Sketch, ca. 1940 – 1943. Wax-based paint on paper.
Huntington, NY – Drawn from the collections of The Heckscher Museum of Art and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, TX, this exhibition presents rarely seen works on paper by modern artists Arthur Dove (1880–1946) and Helen Torr (1886–1967). The exhibition explores the couple’s connection to Long Island’s natural environment, their experimentation with materials and techniques, and the impact of Dove’s declining health on their art.
In the 1920s Arthur Dove and Helen Torr lived on and along the water around Long Island’s North Shore. For years, they lived and painted on their boat, the Mona, before settling at what is now the Dove/Torr Cottage in Centerport. Located on the banks of picturesque Titus Mill Pond, the cottage’s surroundings provided the subject matter–light, wind, water, and sand–for some of Arthur Dove’s and Helen Torr’s most inspired artworks.
Approximately sixty artworks are featured in the exhibition, including some of Dove’s most acclaimed watercolors created during the last years of his life, when he was confined to his home, and Torr was his primary caretaker. Torr ceased painting but continued to draw during this period. Her career was stymied in part by the barriers that female artists faced, as well as the time she devoted to caring for Dove and supporting his work. The Heckscher Museum holds one of the largest collections of Torr’s work.
Salt Life: Arthur Dove and Helen Torr also marks the twentieth-fifth anniversary of The Heckscher Museum’s preservation of the Arthur Dove and Helen Torr Cottage. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Dove and Torr lived on a sailboat on the Long Island Sound. In 1938, they purchased a 500-square-foot home in Centerport. Torr declared, “We feel this is the loveliest situation we have ever had.” Dove agreed, “I love this swashbuckling around the salt water. . . . Everyone seems quite delighted with this place. It is beautiful.”
Their home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios (HAHS) program of the National Trust.
Soundwalk and Sculpture at the Arthur Dove and Helen Torr Cottage
The celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Dove/Torr Cottage is also a time of renewal for the property. Thanks to a grant from the HAHS, Long Island Biennial artist and sculptor, Susan Buroker, and accomplished sound engineer, Evangeline Knell are working on community projects inspired by artist Helen Torr exploring how the natural world impacted her life and art on Long Island. Participating middle school students from Girls, Inc. learned about Helen Torr and the local ecosystem of her home, the Dove/Torr Cottage, located in Centerport.
This unique program was made possible by the Dorothy C. Radgowski Learning Through Women’s Achievement in the Arts Grant, a joint effort of Where Women Made History (WWMH), and Historic Artists’ Homes & Studios (HAHS), both programs of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Students engaged in a variety of art, science, and technology activities including conducting water sample experiments, creating mini sculptures for contributing to a large-scale kinetic sculpture by Buroker in honor of Torr, which will ultimately be on view at the site. The project will also culminate in two new outdoor soundwalks for the public – one at the Dove/Torr Cottage and the other at Heckscher Park in Huntington. These Soundwalk experiences will feature the voices of the participating students sharing what they learned about Helen Torr, her home, the natural world, and more. The soundwalks will be available in the fall.
The Dove/Torr Cottage is also listed on lihistoricartistsites.com, an initiative of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.
The Heckscher Museum of Art Soundwalk, located at the Dove/Torr cottage and in Heckscher Park, was created in 2023 with support from a Dorothy C. Radgowski Learning Through Women’s Achievement in the Arts Grant, a joint effort of Where Women Made History (WWMH), and HAHS. Special thanks to Susan Buroker; Evangeline Knell; Girls Inc. Long Island; Monica Ortiz-Menier, Helen Keller National Center; and the Heckscher Museum Accessibility Advisory Group for their work on the project. Tactile Maps and Signage were created and installed, for this project, at Heckscher Park and the Dove/Torr Cottage with generous grant support from the Town of Huntington Environmental Open Space & Park Fund Advisory Committee.
THE HECKSCHER MUSEUM
The Heckscher Museum of Art is in its second century as a source of art and inspiration on Long Island. Founded by philanthropists Anna and August Heckscher in 1920, the Museum’s collection contains more than 2,300 works from the 16th to the 21st century, including European and American painting, sculpture, works on paper, and photography. Located in scenic Heckscher Park in Huntington, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Visit Heckscher.org for more information.