The Hooke Sculpture Gallery found a new home this summer on Main Street in Sag Harbor. Two years ago Robert Hooke came back to the States from London to open up shop along with his brother, David, in the second-floor space above the Grenning Gallery on Washington Street. The move made “logical sense,” according to Hooke. He spent many summers around the old whaling town growing up, and when his friend Laura Grenning offered him the space, he couldn’t refuse. Hooke, a sculptor himself, made his second move to the new ground floor location in April.
The gallery shows artists from across the pond, including Peter Ball and David Begbie, as well as local sculptor Denis Leri and many of Hooke’s own works. On display are “contemporary figurative sculptures, crafted in wood, bronze, steel, and stone,” representing studies in the human and animal form through the use of shape, proportion, color and size. Most interesting, perhaps, is how the simple representations of these forms also carry with them an emotional message that is, according to Hooke, “occasionally present in abstract art” but is “expected in the imagery of figures and animals because it is inherent and instinctive in those species and is communicated through body position and facial expression.” In this way, the Hooke Gallery provides a unique collection that can be understood on an intrinsic as opposed to intellectual level. In Sag Harbor, the gallery hopes to provide the public with a number of exhibitions that “demonstrate the breadth of imagery, presentation and interpretation possible when sculpting the human and animal form in a demonstrative state.”
Hooke was born in Ohio and raised in Short Hills, New Jersey. He received his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in Maine and then went on to earn an MBA at Columbia University. After college, he joined the Navy during the Vietnam War, where he commanded a SWIFT boat in the Mekong Delta. His service eventually earned him a Bronze Star and the Navy Commendation Medal, both with the combat V for Valor. After being discharged as a full Lieutenant, he began his career as an investment banker on Wall Street, working for banks such as DLJ and Paribas before eventually opening up his own firm in London. To keep himself entertained, Hooke pursues some extreme activities, including polo, skydiving, bungee jumping, heli-skiing, and big-game hunting in South Africa. He has even completed a single-handed sailing trip across the Atlantic.
Although Hooke made his living in the financial industry, he has managed to “carve out” a secondary career for himself in the arts. While he was working in New York, Hooke studied with Hartbert Kellem at the School for Visual Arts. Immediately aware of his talent and passion for sculpture, Kellem allowed Hooke to come into the studio during off hours and work on his projects so that he could remain responsible to the long hours of the financial world. Hooke continued to pursue his passion for stone carving when he moved to London, building up a large collection of his own work. He eventually began showing his pieces at the Alwin Gallery, which he would later own, as well as in other galleries in Europe, Australia, and South Africa.
Hooke’s philosophy on sculpture ultimately stems from his talent for observation, accrued over a lifetime of exposure to a diversity of environments and cultures. The fundamental form of living beings seems to be the link that binds all this diversity together. “Stance reflects how people feel,” says Hooke. “People differ across cultures, but their position and how they relate to each other transcends these differences.”
The Hooke Sculpture Gallery, 150 Main St.,
Sag Harbor, www.hookegallery.com,