The mission of the Spirit of Huntington Art Center is simple: To pursue the belief that creative expression ignites a passion in students with special needs and veterans, one that transforms their lives. By providing services for education, vocation and recreation for Huntington and the surrounding community, those attending events and classes leave with their lives changed and spirits lifted by their artistic experiences within the Center, and within themselves. Known as a community hub for art and creative expression for individuals with special needs, the Center also has a history of featuring works by both well-known and local, established artists that serve to inspire students and the community.
The wonderful painting featured on this week’s cover, titled “The Wedding,” was created by Bob Schmitz, a local New York artist whose energetic and imaginative style draws the eye again and again into the scenes he portrays.
Originally raised in New York, his father was a commercial artist whose influence strongly motivated Schmitz to pursue art as a career. Following several business ventures, he eventually chose to set aside his corporate projects and direct his energy toward his passions — painting and sculpting. The results have been brilliant, in more ways than one.
Sculpture was the initial focus for his art. Trained by Elaine Braun of Florida and Greg Johnson, noted sculptor in the Atlanta community, he then worked for years with the famous late sculptor LT Cherokee in New York.
Schmitz’s love of art and the development of his style have evolved over his 45 years as an artist. His earlier work grew from studies in drawing and painting under the guidance of accomplished artists and teachers, as his work established his signature style for bright colors and form. His work has been shown in galleries in Atlanta and Stewart, Georgia; Hollywood; Key West, Florida; Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; and numerous locations in New York. Many of his works are in corporate and private collections nationally and internationally.
In 2011, Schmitz moved to Latin America, dividing his time between Boquete, Panama and more recently, Medellín, Colombia. After spending extended periods in the area, he was motivated to relocate there permanently, drawn by the culture, colors and unique light found in the region as he continued his art. A core inspiration for him as an artist has been Marc Chagall, as witnessed by the abstract expressionism in his later works, incorporating the intense color palette of Latin America. Some of his works may be found at Mango’s and Sugar and Spice restaurants, Casa Décor Design Center and the Biblioteca de Boquete in Panama where he maintains a residence.
While his ability to travel is currently limited, he remains in contact with his colleagues, friends, fellow artists and the Spirit of Huntington Art Center, which has a number of his works on display.
The Center is located at 2 Melville Road North, Huntington Station, offering classes in art, ceramics, music, dance, and yoga. The signature program ArtWORKS is an innovative vocational program enrolling students in experiential digital art and design courses. ArtWORKS offers graduates a path to careers with companies that need workers with media design and social media management skills.
The Spirit of Huntington Art Center is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides students with special needs and veterans the opportunity for art and creative expression that can transform their lives.
To learn more about the Spirit of Huntington Art Center, visit spiritofhuntington.com.