Bellmore-Merrick student artists are ‘L.I.’s Best’

Three pieces chosen for display at renowned Heckscher Museum


Three student artists at John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore had their artwork chosen to be displayed at the Heckscher Museum’s Long Island’s Best exhibition, held annually in Huntington.

Danielle Berkowitz, Dylan Friedman and Minami Rodger all created artwork inspired by a different piece of art they had viewed in the museum, Cheryl Fontana, the district’s director of fine & performing arts, explained in a release to the Herald.

Josh Gilmore, a student from Wellington C. Mepham High School in Bellmore, also had his piece 'Mountains Through Home' selected for the display. 

Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum is the only judged exhibition on Long Island that accepts high school art submissions. Some 91 pieces were selected this year from over 500 submissions.

The show opened in April and will close on June 4. The entire exhibition is available online at


‘Sunday at the Market’

Senior Danielle Berkowitz’s photograph “Sunday at the Market” was inspired by the work of Susan Kozodoy Silkowitz, a New York City street photographer. Berkowitz, 18, of Merrick, decided to take photography at Kennedy for fun when she was a sophomore, under the instruction of Sarah Ritchie, and she discovered a passion for the art form.

Berkowitz said she enjoys taking pictures on film and developing them in a dark room. “I liked the hands-on darkroom experience, because I though it was so cool my school had a darkroom,” she said. “That’s what most of my work is, and that’s what I decided to submit for Long Island’s Best.”

Berkowitz and her friends spend a lot of time in Manhattan, exploring on the weekends, and at an outdoor market near Chelsea she snapped some photos of people shopping. Her photo of a man bending over, looking at items on the table, earned her a spot in Long Island’s Best.

“I feel like this is a great recognition for my artwork, and the opportunity to be featured in a museum with other talented artists — I think that’s super cool,” she said. “It’s a sense of accomplishment after years of photography, making something that other people recognize is good.”

In the fall, Berkowitz is heading to Cornell University, where she will study public policy on a pre-law track.


‘Birch Loop’

Friedman, 17, of Merrick, a junior at Kennedy, submitted his drawing “Birch Loop,” which was inspired by artist Shain Bard’s piece “Driving Into Twilight, Ukraine On My Mind,” which depicts a car driving into a sunset, surrounded by snow.

Friedman said his own artwork largely focused on wildlife and nature. “Birch Loop” shows a wintery forest from the perspective of someone standing on the deck of a rustic home. Friedman captured details in the natural scenery, bringing the icy-colored sky and brown and green plants to life, while contrasting that against the shadowy aspects of the home.

The reason he was inspired by Bard’s piece, he said, is because it reminded him of Vermont. “My family and I go to Vermont every year for Thanksgiving, to my grandparents’ house,” he said. “I was just really captivated by the intense colors of the sunset, the snow.”

At Kennedy, Friedman has taken all his drawing classes from Vanessa Albaneze, and said it was an honor to have his piece selected for the show. “I was very excited,” he said. “I kept going back and forth on whether I would get in or not, because it’s such a prestigious exhibition, with 500-something submissions and only 90 get in, so I was very honored and excited to be in myself.”


‘It’s All Too Much’

Rodger’s photograph “It’s All Too Much” was not only selected to be featured in the show, but also earned an additional honor, the Cozza Family Photography Award.

“I started art in middle school,” Rodger told the Herald, “and I originally did drawing and sketching, but I really liked photography. I just never had a chance to learn how to use cameras.”

That changed in high school, because under Ritchie’s instruction, she learned the craft.

Now a junior, Rodger, 16, of Merrick, said she usually prefers to shoot with film, but she decided to experiment with digital photos, and that’s what was submitted and chosen for Long Island’s Best.

The photo she entered was taken on a regular, digital camera. Rodger said she was inspired by a piece called “It’s Fine, It’s Fine, It’s All Fine,” and she wanted to take the concept behind its title and connect it to the stress high school students feel as they’re studying, taking Advanced Placement exams, and balancing extracurriculars.

“It’s All Too Much” was shot from above someone leaning over, engrossed in schoolwork at a desk, surrounded by a mess of books, drinks, snacks and calculators — a scene many students are likely familiar with.

“I was really surprised,” Rodger said of having her piece selected. “I think it’s a very cool opportunity for me. It was very fun to go see it. I hope to continue photography — it’s definitely not my main thing — but I do want to continue it on the side in the future.”