Haweeli Art

This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper


Steve Haweeli is a Long Island native most commonly affiliated with his public relations firm, WordHampton. Over a decade ago, in December 2007, Haweeli began an artistic journey through painting. His contemporary abstracts, “with a debt to the great abstract expressionists,” have been featured in curated events such as ArtHamptons, New York Art Expo, and the Affordable Art Fair.


How has faith played a part in your life? 

It’s a major part of my day. I spend a good hour every morning reading, journaling, praying, and occasionally meditating.

I also write out a gratitude list of five things I’m grateful for every day. I have been doing that for a couple of years; it guarantees you walk out the door with a bounce in your step.

I also practice 15 yoga positions every morning. Every so often, I change things up. Once, I read the entire Psalter (Book of Psalms).

Why did you have an exhibit St. Luke’s?

I’m a cradle Episcopalian, even though I’m also a closet Baptist. So, St. Luke’s was the logical choice when I landed here [after living in Williamsburg]. It’s a very diverse congregation—locals, weekenders, transplants.

I’m also a huge fan of its summer satellite church, St. Peter’s, in Barnes Landing. There’s a 5:30 PM Saturday service that is very “low church.” As a result, it is an incredibly casual and honest service.

Describe the significance of water in your work.

Water is integral to my work. I’m a water guy: I stare at it, fish in it, swim in it, and I used to boat in it. In the summer, I start my day with a dip at Maidstone Beach Park. Every weekend, I’m at the ocean.

It’s about baptism. We come into Lent preparing for not only the crucifixion (Good Friday) but also the resurrection (Easter), which is the reaffirmation of our faith as cited in the Nicene Creed (“On the third day, he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures . . .”) and that statement is also repeated in the Baptismal Covenant, “On the third day he rose again . . .”

When one is baptized, one is either immersed in or has water poured on him or her. Biblically, water represents the Word of God or the knowledge of God and it can be said that the ocean symbolizes the beginning of life on Earth.

Why have a show during Lent?

I’ve been thinking about this show for a couple of years, because I had all these cross works. In fact, one piece, 124 Martyrs, was started on Palm Sunday and finished on Easter Sunday; I recited the Jesus Prayer quietly to myself about 80 percent of the time. I figure, what better time to show crosses than Lent?

What artwork or artist inspires you?

Joan Mitchell, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Helen Frankenthaler. My three favorite pieces (right now) are Mitchell’s Ladybug, de Kooning’s A Tree in Naples, and Pollock’s Number 1.

What is the overall message in your work?

I am enthralled by water—its taste, feel, expanse and color—anchored by God, the sheer depth of God. I am grateful to be alive in this world, but angry that I will have to leave it one day.

What’s your painting process? 

It completely depends on the painting. For instance, one piece I was convinced was done, but I wasn’t sure. So, it sat there for months, perhaps four or five. (I already had put a good six weeks into the piece.) I then returned to the piece, and added several more layers over another six weeks—so in that case it was [worked on for] over six months.

I use a lot of blues, blacks, and a bit of yellow, but also black, gray, and white. It really depends on what I’m painting, because I’ve used just about every color. I love pink, too! I use palette knives, trowels, the ends of paint stirrers, some brushes—sometimes stiff brushes.

Paint yourself/soul in a single image and describe it.

There’s a piece of me—a lot of me—in every work I’ve created. That said, the “me” painting is big—maybe six by 10 feet. It features color over color (blues, orange, black, pink, white), but underneath a good part of the painting runs a dark line, a knot, a perceived skirmish. That’s the part I’m trying to address with prayer.


Yektai: An Ascension Through the Generations

(This article first appeared in the November 1, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)


Growing up in an artistic household creates unique circumstances. Trips to the ballpark are replaced with excursions to European museums. Patriarch of the Yektai family, Manoucher Yektai’s cultural exploration through Iran, France, and the United States has made him a well-known Abstract Expressionist painter for the better part of the last century. Like father like sons, as Nico and Darius followed in their father’s footsteps years later.

The show “Yektai” is running at Guild Hall through December 31. After seeing his sculpture “The Ascension, ” chief curator Christina Strassfield felt Darius should have his own show. It includes his father’s and brother’s works as well.

“In the art world, people like to believe that lightning can’t strike twice in the same place,” contemporary artist, Darius, expressed.

“In a way, I benefitted when my father removed himself from the art world. He had been everywhere and had all the attention that he needed. In fact, he pushed away a lot more attention than he should have. He left room for us to step forward and be artists in our own right.”

As children, Nico, furniture maker, and Darius observed their father working in the studio without distraction. Manoucher’s concentration profoundly relayed the message that a true work needs no approval. “That existential kind of doing of something long enough justifies itself. The ends justify the means,” Darius remembered. “Growing up and seeing him, the devotion he had to his work — he was in the studio, very serious.”

Manoucher’s emphasis of the surface in his works indirectly spoke of art history and the dialogue before him. By leaving the staples on the edge of his work, he reminds the viewer that “it’s a stretched volume.” To his sons, this was an understanding, a lesson based on truth.

Fast forward to today, the language is still being spoken. Darius’s works are open narratives with a magnetic push and pull between sculpture and painting art forms. “In order for a painting to be honest it needs to tell you what it truthfully is. No matter how close you get them [sculpture and painting], they never become sealed to the other.”

Nico’s furniture is reminiscent of their father’s brushstrokes. The planks or blocks of wood are in harmony with Manoucher’s thick, layered canvas pieces. In a circle of influence, Darius sculpts with pieces of wood tossed aside from Nico’s cut off pieces, “the negative space.”

Like many working families encouraging the next generation to follow in their father, or mother’s, footsteps, the possibility of becoming a professional artist was always there for Nico and Darius. In Darius’s case, it took studying geology at Occidental College in California for him to make the transition. “Geology is f***ing awesome!” Darius enthusiastically exclaimed. “It’s like a puzzle and a clue. A lot of the math and the things I studied in the sciences ended up in my paintings. You can go up to the surface of my paintings and you can see the layering.”

It’s through love, respect, and admiration that a father’s passion transcends time and ascends through the generations. Each drop of paint, each new work, a new lesson about life.

Darius smiled. “My father used to say you’re an artist now. You have to get to a place where you’re above all [the drama], that you can be in love with that rock, that tree, and all the love you need is there.”


What Lies Within Us

(This article first appeared in the April 26, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)

If a single image boasts a thousand words, than artist Asia Lee is a photographic novelist. Her upcoming exhibit “What Lies Within Us” will run at the White Room Gallery in Bridgehampton this Friday through May 3 with an opening reception on Saturday from 6 to 8 PM.

A Jeju Island, South Korean native, Lee has spent most of her life living on Long Island. Being Asian in a predominantly white population left her feeling estranged. After years of internal conflict, with several near death experiences, Lee found her inner light through holistic healing, with traditions such as Reiki and ho’oponopono.

Each morning she posts a photograph of the sunrise on her social media accounts.

“When you start the day with something positive, or gratitude, it can change the entire day. The world is really within our head, what we perceive what we think,” Lee expressed. “I’m not trying to heal other people. I healed myself and because I am healed I am able to see things differently. I am sharing that. Hopefully other people are inspired and when they are healed they can give to others.”

Her premier exhibit in the Hamptons is a multi-sensory show of her subliminal work. On display she will show fine art photography ranging in size from 4″x6″ magnets to 40″x72″ digital C prints on plexiglass, all with a focus on the majestic beauty of nature “that you feel like you can step into.”

Inhale as you walk around and you will be soothed with aromatherapy by Chris Kirschbaum of doTERRA. In addition to visual and olfactory senses, an audio-tape of music created in 528HZ will echo throughout the room. The 528HZ is a love frequency that’s been claimed to heal the heart and connect it to the realities around it.

“The goal is to reset who we are, who we are meant to be. Which is pure love,” Lee stated. “There is only love and all the other emotions are the lies. So, ‘What Lies Within Us’ — that’s where the title comes from — is where you get rid of all the lies and go back to love.”

Lee sees herself as a conduit artist rather than a traditional photographer. She encapsulates nature in a single image as a means to present it to her audience, allowing them to interpret it however they choose.

“Every day the sunrise is different. The beauty that’s there, it’s just incredible. I feel incredibly grateful that my life is where it is and I’m able to give back. And I want to give back even more. I’m thrilled when people say they’re inspired,” Lee humbly admitted.

Before concluding this interview, Lee decided to play a game of “What If,” something this author hadn’t done since grade school. We went back and forth with phrases of realities until she paused and said, “As children we dream, we imagine possibilities. As adults we see hurdles, we’re too quick to point out what could go wrong. The universe hears you, so you have to stop telling her the negative.”

“What If” her show inspires you? “What If” you fall in love with her work? “What If” we all told beautiful stories through our own images?

Chalk Art: Long Islands Latest Masterpiece

(This article first appeared in the August 24, 2016 issue of The Independent Newspaper- as a prequel to the post write up seen here)


Picture the word “love” drawn out in front of your eyes on a black chalk board. Waves, underwater creatures, and flowers all morphed to form the letters L, O, V, and E using every color in the rainbow.

In a single image, that would be artist Kara Hoblin. This Sunday her first chalk art show “The Art of Letting Go” will be held from 6 to 10 PM at the Heron Suites in Southold where guests can view her work while enjoying snacks and refreshments as music plays in the background.

In a continuously growing artistic community, the show at Heron Suites will also include a sign-up sheet for the North Fork Art Collective. In its initial stages, it will be a space for gathering artists to create, discuss, and discover art of all mediums.

“The Art of Letting Go” is appropriately titled after Hoblin’s firm belief in life’s most important lesson.

“[It’s about] the ephemeral nature of chalk and the act of letting go. As an artist to let go of my work, as a lover to let go of heartache, as a person to let go of insecurities, pain, loss, etc.,” she explained.

In keeping with the theme, at the end of the show Hoblin will erase most of the displays with help from the audience as a way to encourage mindfulness and love.

By erasing the chalk guests have an opportunity to experience letting go themselves through this physical outlet. Behind these images will reveal hidden phrases aimed to inspire those in the room. “You can’t have positivity without love. Love of oneself, of everyone around you, of the environment.”

More than chalk, Hoblin explores illustration of all kinds.

“I recently started to get really involved with typography. I find it therapeutic and powerful since language (of all types) is the connecting factor for our species, and communication is both beautiful and necessary.”

Her work is whimsical in style, which she aims to remain true to. While she tries to take on as many projects as she can, they must coincide with her vision.

A native Long Islander from Blue Point, Hoblin worked in New York City at a photo and styling agency after graduating from SUNY New Paltz. While so many are tempted to leave home, Hoblin’s love for the community and nature has been her sense of gravity to the area. In returning back to the island she managed Harbes Vineyard tasting room along with handling their marketing and social media. Her first chalkboard design was at First and South Restaurant in Greenport back in 2014. This spring she has became a full time artist.

Living on the North Fork has become a sanctuary to her. Whether it be swimming at one of the local beaches or going on a peaceful walk through one of the many preserves there are endless locations to relax, think, and draw.

Hoblin’s most beloved activity is simply being outdoors, riding her bike.

In gearing her life’s work to her community, she has compiled dozens of hand drawn sketches of locations throughout the North Fork in a coloring book. Each location is depicted as Hoblin imagines it, a magical collection that’s due to hit shelves in September.

“One of my favorite swimming spots has these large rocks in the water and in the coloring book there’s a mermaid sitting on the rock. I’m really excited and I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this coloring book. I think that coloring and any type of art is really beneficial and stress relieving for the soul.”

In hopes that her first coloring book is successful she plans to release a second edition including various towns across Long Island and even offer customized versions in the future.

In a world where love is as much a vision as it is a feeling, letting go is a form of art.

For artist Kara Hoblin, Long Island is her inspirational masterpiece.