DETERMINED TO PAINT
The Art of George W. Hallock
by Geoffrey Fleming
George W. Hallock was raised in the idyllic surroundings of “Halyoake Farm,” a sprawling farm that was acquired by his family in Orient during the 19th century. Like his father, George Hallock Jr., he was much more of an artist than a farmer. He was a painter, photographer, enjoyed music, and was an organist. As a young man, he is thought to have had his first training as a painter under William Steeple Davis (1884-1961), an artist who lived his entire life in Orient, Long Island. He is also suspected of studying with the Greenport artist, Whitney M. Hubbard (1875-1965), who taught at the Suffolk Conservatory of Music and Arts in Riverhead and in the adult education department at the high school in Greenport, NY.
As a young man Hallock worked on the family farm but set his sights on going away to college to study music. Hallock was accepted and left to attend Oberlin College in Ohio in September of 1935 where fellow neighbor and future artist, Albert Latham (1909-1976), was also studying. Upon his return to Orient he set up a gift shop in nearby Greenport at 400 Main Street named “The Hallocks,” where he sold flowers from his family’s greenhouses while also offering gift items, including his own paintings for sale.
As was the case for many of the artists working on the North Fork, there were not many opportunities to exhibit and sell paintings or other artworks. This would all change with the creation of the Old Town Arts and Crafts Guild, located in Cutchogue, New York. The Guild was founded in 1950 with the aim of promoting and selling works by local and regional artists, offering “ … lectures, demonstrations, and special exhibits during the course of the year which will promote interest and active participation in various arts and crafts …” Hallock was part of the group that founded the Guild and in 1951, was elected at the age of thirty-five as the second vice president of the newly formed organization. He also served as the chairman of the membership committee.
As an artist, Hallock greatly admired the Swedish-American impressionist painter, John Fabian Carlson, N.A. (1874-1945), whose works he constantly clipped out of magazines and books for reference. Carlson founded his own school of landscape painting in Woodstock, New York, in 1922 and in 1942 co-founded a summer school in Gloucester, Massachusetts with noted maritime artist Emile Gruppe (1896-1978).
Unlike many of his contemporaries on the North Fork of Long Island who exhibited widely, Hallock’s works remained hidden until very recently due to his shyness and his near total lack of interest in exhibiting his paintings. This, in many ways, hurt his reputation as there were never many paintings available to exhibit, view, or purchase. In fact, he was a superior landscape and seascape painter compared to many of the other artists who were working on the North Fork from the 1930s through the 1950s.