Sixty years of Joel LeBow's visual memories are on display
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Joel LeBow stands in front of Maple II from his current Yellow Period series. His solo show, Visual Memoirs, opens at the Anita Shapolsky Art Foundation with a reception on Aug. 31.
It's rare for artists to be recognized in their own hometown, but the Anita Shapolsky Art Foundation in Jim Thorpe seems to have overcome that rarity.
The Foundation is recognizing Joel LeBow for his 60 years as a working artist in a celebration and exhibit - a solo show, Visual Memoirs.
The title reflects LeBow's painting style which marries abstraction and realism in a way that draws out memories from observers.
Visual Memoirs will be on exhibit at the Anita Shapolsky Art Foundation, 20 W. Broadway in Jim Thorpe from Aug. 31 until Sept. 15. The public is invited to an opening reception on Aug. 31 from 3 to 5 p.m.
Painting strong at the age of 81, LeBow of Jim Thorpe is currently in his Yellow Period, ironic for an artist that neither likes to be confined or likes the color yellow. In an interview in 2009, he said, "A strong yellow is unusual for me," he said. "I don't use a lot of yellow."
At that time, he saw yellow as a reflection of the sun. He recently recovered from prostate surgery. He anticipates producing up to a dozen paintings in this Yellow Period series.
The exhibit will show up to 14 of his paintings - in oil and watercolor. "Anita wants to show some of my smaller watercolors," LeBow said. "There will be four watercolors, three of my current oils, and the rest of the show is my work from the years as an abstract expressionist."
In the 1950s and '60s, when Abstract Expressionism was at its zenith, LeBow studied with Franz Kline and rubbed elbows with fellow abstract expressionist painters Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock.
Although a student of Franz Kline, Joel's images in no way resemble the work of Kline. Instead, what he learned from Kline was to love paint itself, moving boldly with each brush stroke, giving it life and movement.
LeBow's work retained its roots in abstract expressionism, but moved on to use the human figure and other natural forms to express the human condition and its haunting memories.
"As I've aged, I've become a little more delicate, not so likely to have a big splash of paint. The strokes are becoming more tender. I'm tending to stitch things together. It's more difficult to paint this way because things start looking more precious, and I want to maintain the vitality."
"My mission over the past 60 years has been to make people remember and to feel," he said. "When young people ask me if they should make art their career, my answer is - if you have to ask, the answer is no. Painting is something you want to do. I wanted to paint."
Anita Shapolsky, a New York AE gallery owner, met LeBow after opening a studio in Jim Thorpe. When she discovered that he was part of the abstract expressionist movement of the '50s and '60s, she became enraptured with LeBow's work. Two months ago, she approached LeBow and suggested a solo show at her gallery.
Visitors to Visual Memoirs will see what LeBow calls "the possibility of realism."
"People see things in my work - a horse, a cow, a religious symbol, a personal memory - I am astounded at what they see."
Gallery Hours: Saturday & Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment. For information, see: www.asartfoundation.org, or call: (570) 872-6466.