American Artist Eric Fischl Brings The ’80s Back To Life

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Museum president Angela Susan Anton with Joseph Graziose, museum honoree. (Photos by Elizabeth Johnson)

The ’80s are back in fashion again and the Nassau County Museum’s latest exhibit allows visitors to experience That ’80s Show Rebel with a Cause, which runs from March 16 to July 7. The ’80s were extravagant, the time of Studio 54, Charlie’s Angels, the 1980 Winter Olympics with the U.S. hockey team winning the gold medal, and punk rockers, just to refresh your memories. Museum president Angela Susan Anton was pleased to kick off the evening’s event.

The curatorial advisor of the show was Eric Fischl, a New York artist, who is an international art star and is considered to be a painter of the suburbs. He and museum director Charles Riley, have put together a dynamic show featuring more than one hundred works by all of the great personalities of the ’80s, including Fischl, April Gornik, Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Ross Bleckner, Bryan Hunt, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, Jenny Holzer, Robert Mapplethorpe, Annette Lemieux, Charlie Clough, Tseng Kwong Chi, Jonathan Lasker and many others.

Fischl was born in New York City and grew up on suburban Long Island. He began his studies at Arizona State and received his Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from California Institute of the Arts. He taught at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design where he met his wife, April Gornik. Both Gornik and Fischl were in attendance at the opening event.

“When I think about the ’80s I think about the energy, the confusion, the passions and the fault lines,” said Fischl. “At that time, no one knew who was going to last, who was better, everything was just pushing everything else.” What a decadent decade it was! Madonna and the Ramones, David Bowie and the B-52s were rocking the Palladium and the Mudd Club; the Dow was rocketing and Wall Street was in the movie theaters; the Islanders built a dynasty and the Berlin Wall was torn down. The artists were on top of a media craze that foretold of the digital era and riding a flood of investment in the art market.

Fischl compared it to catching a wave off Montauk: “That feeling of being swept up and carried by something so much bigger and more powerful than yourself, something you’d worked so hard to catch, and now you’ve caught it and you’re in it.”

The show also features a “hall of fame” of music and sports memorabilia, including Michael Jackson’s glove, Prince’s fashion, Madonna’s jewelry, and autographed items from the Islanders, Mets and the 1980 Olympic hockey team.

The museum will holding its annual Museum Ball on June 8 honoring Joseph Graziose of Glen Cove. Graziose was born and raised in Glen Cove and is the executive vice president of residential development and construction at RXR Realty, a company with a long family history of support for the museum. Some of the projects he has developed include the Ritz Carlton in North Hills, Garvies Point and Village Square in Glen Cove and the Engineers Country Club in Roslyn Harbor. Make sure to save the date for this fantastic event. It is the museum’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

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Elizabeth Johnson is editor of Manhasset Press and Manhasset Press Magazine. Growing up in nearby Garden City and attending New York University, she is well-versed in the locale and knowledgeable about the beat she covers. Her community involvement is extensive and includes the Manhasset SCA, Kiwanis International, Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Church, and various civic and local charitable organizations. Curious by nature, her travels, community service, love of the arts as well as local sports give her the inside view to unique content. During her time at Anton, she has received several awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Club of LI, including the coveted "Best Community Newspaper" several years in a row.

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