Hekking was graduated from Syracuse University in 1908. He studied with Howard Pyle between 1908 and Pyle’s departure for Italy in 1910. Hekking also studied at the Art Students League in New York and the Academic Julian in Paris, probably taking the prescribed courses in the traditional curriculum. Hekking apparently served in World War I. In the early twenties, he began spending his summers on Monhegan Island, Maine, painting scenes of the Maine coast and later participating in wilderness preservation groups. The Syracuse University Alumni News for Winter 1963 lists Hekking’s accomplishments: he served as Director for the Museum and Art School of the Columbus, Ohio, Gallery of Fine Arts, the Los Angeles Museum of Art, and the Buffalo Art Institute. Also as an art critic, he wrote for the Buffalo Evening News from 1931-34, He was chairman for sculpture of the New York World’s Fair of 1939 and the Fine Arts Commissioner for the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial. Hekking’s most prestigious position was the directorship of the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, which he held from 1924 until 1931.
In 1930, Hekking joined an expedition of the International Ice Patrol to the Arctic. On later journeys, he traveled by land, sea, and air to reach distant points in Labrador, Greenland, and Iceland. At the age of sixty-five, he took a thousand-mile trip to the Grenfel Mission, an Eskimo settlement, and in 1954, he exhibited scenes of the mission people at Doll and Richards Gallery in Boston.
Hekking’s Eskimo paintings convey some of his ideas about art and nature. Most are portraits of individuals whom Hekking grew to know personally. Each aintin shows his craftsmanship and his sympathy with the Eskimo people and their culture. The relentless cold and the demands of life under an endlessly threatening sky are captured in the faces of the Eskimo men, women, and children.
Between 1930 and 1933, Gertrude Brincklg and Mrs. Hollyday S. Meeds, who were involved in planning the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts’ new building, wrote to Hekking for advice about the proposed small museum in Wilmington. Hekking’s responses provide an insight into his ideas about art and its function in a small communit his business acumen and diplomacy are obvious. His wit and humorous sf te pticism must have been honed by years of dealing with architects, board members, museum staffs, and the general ublic. The letter to Brinckle and Meeds has a wealth of practical facts and figures.