Artist’s Biographies and the Bohemian Aesthetic
Our search for visual art that expresses the “bohemian aesthetic” has led to alliances, connections, and collaborations with significant artists and galleries. Most notably, Ahlers and Ogletrie/Atlanta, Papillon Gallery/Los Angeles, RoGallery/New York City, and Dorothy Rogers Art/Santa Fe. Dorothy Rogers has had decades of experience as an avid collector and esteemed gallery proprietor. We have spent time in Roger’s Santa Fe home, and we’ve become friends.
The following is a quote from Dorothy Rogers on art collecting: “Forget what’s in style this year. Forget what art your friends have purchased, what the Joneses have on their walls, what an art ‘expert’ says or what your banker thinks will be a good investment. Listen to your intuition – you’ve been learning with that way of knowing all your life. When you walk into a gallery and, no matter where you go in the room, your eyes find their way back to that one special piece – your heart is telling you something. Trust it. Take action and enjoy the choices that you make for your own personal reasons.” The legendary American art collector Joseph Hirshhorn (benefactor of the Hirshhorn Art Collection at the Smithsonian) is also called to mind: “If you’ve got to look at a work of art a dozen times before you decide to acquire it, then there’s something wrong with you or the art.” Often the most delightful art collections are eclectic, united only by the joy that the owner – and therefore visiting viewers – finds in the work. So what if you love art with a certain subject matter or art in every medium from oil paint to papier-mache? What if you like art from any period from pre-Columbian to an art opening night at a local gallery just last week? So what if you appreciate abstract expressionism and your spouse favors realism? A lively mixture will enhance your personal environment and enrich your life. Collect and enjoy the art that communicates personally to you. There are literally thousands of “listed” artists that appraisers and gallery operators consider to be collectible, and that are appreciating in value. The real worth is the pleasure that your works of art bring to you as they improve your own daily life. Art is ultimately about life enrichment.
We have assembled an eclectic art collection here at the Bohemian. We have selected a banquet of visual art that celebrates life, music, food and art as we express our interpretation of the “bohemian aesthetic” – as we have come to understand it. We invite you to our place, and hope you learn to love it as your place.
Art that we present at the Bohemian has been created by more than 50 noted artists from all across the United States and many other nations. These art works span 3 centuries and mark numerous visual art eras, schools of thought, and aesthetic movements from the mid-1800’s to our contemporary artistic milieu. In our collection here you will see realist/figurative art, colorful art of the Fauve movement, Modernism, Abstract Expressionism, Tonalism, Cubism, Surrealist, Regionalist, and Naïve Americana. The commonality is that each was produced by an artist that has pursued and achieved their own unique style. It has been observed that Grant Wood was known only as a minor artist during the first phase of his career when he painted in a French inspired Impressionist style. When Wood had the courage to “paint what he knew” of the landscape and people of Iowa, he developed and then epitomized his distinctive regionalist style. Grant Wood then achieved international success and recognition as an artist with his own creative vision.
A number of artists in our permanent collection have been students or faculty at the Art Student’s League in New York City. For nearly 150 years since its founding in 1875, the League has served as a creative vortex that has fostered the development of scores of the most acclaimed American artists. This commonality was not sought out consciously in our collection; however, as we have prepared the biographies of the artists included in the collection here at the Bohemian, we have discovered this unifying thread. Perhaps we have a natural affinity with the underlying aesthetic sensibility that has guided the League for more than a century.
Much of the art on our walls are one and only treasures – an original signed by the same hand that painted it. If any given work here at the Bohemian is not an original, it is usually a rare, limited issue lithograph or serigraph, again created by and signed by the artist. We have carried out a dedicated effort to document the provenance and authenticity of each work of art. Many of the artists in this collection have lived and worked in some of the most legendary bohemian enclaves over a wide variety of times and places: bohemian districts of Paris and other European cities, Greenwich Village and the East Village in New York City, as well as New Orleans. As we have researched about the artists that created the works that are now on our walls, it is as if we have gotten to know them as friends – even though many of them have passed many years ago. Their inspiration lives on here at the Bohemian. A work of art is a living legacy that is passed from one generation to the next. Often it is stated in reference to an old building: “oh, if only these walls could talk!” Here at the Bohemian we believe that our walls do speak for themselves. We present all of this in our historic building in the New Bohemia district for your enjoyment.
As Grant Wood, Marvin Cone, and Conger Metcalf have shown, great art, that has gained international recognition, is also created in our own city of Cedar Rapids just as well as other places. Here at the Bohemian, we work to create an atmosphere that will stimulate your own creative process. The most important aspect of the “bohemian aesthetic,” from our point of view, is to be courageous and authentic as you create your own unique style of art as you choose your own way of living. Our attitude at the Bohemian is to do what your own heart, soul, and intellect call you to do. Here is how we at the Bohemian would define our theme:
Be anything but average
Assert your internal integrity and individual authenticity
Don’t mind negative opinions of your work unless you can use it make better art
Live out your personal purpose in the face of all opposition
Do not join in with the majority who are the obedient slaves of convention
Be true to yourself, and never give up
Find those few loyal companions that live life to the fullest
That is the bohemian way
Dive in deep
Our motivation in this endeavor is to have art that is fully integrated into our décor and cafe environment. However, one does need to be a connoisseur or art historian to enjoy the pleasant atmosphere. For those of you that who do become intrigued with the artists in our collection, and want to know more, we welcome any questions as you learn more about this eclectic gathering of artwork. In the following pages you will find brief biographies of the artists whose work we celebrate. The Bohemian is an immersive experience. This place weaves together the strands of cuisine, culture, art, and music. We welcome you. We hope you enjoy this space and come back often with your friends, family and associates.
What is Art?
Art is always communication, but not all communication is art. Art is a multi-sensory and enhanced form of human language. Other living creatures communicate and create social structures, but art is a distinctly human activity. Human beings have engaged in artistic expression for all of history.
Cave paintings in Spain, France, and Indonesia were created by human hands about 35,000 years ago. Since these art works were applied with pigments on stone within enclosed settings, such as caves, they have survived for this entire period. However, pigment applied to tools, clothing, and such were probably created tens of thousands of years ago. Inevitably, most of these perishable items did not survive as extant artifacts. Stone vessels that had been used to hold paints and dyes have been found dating as far back as about 100,000 years ago. Shells that had been etched by early hominid hands dating back 450,000 to 540,000 years ago were discovered in central Java in 2007. The artistic impulse has ancient roots.
Our first musical instrument was the human voice itself, which can make a vast array of sounds, including singing, chanting, humming, whistling, clicking, yodeling, and yawning. Humans can also emulate a wide variety of animal sounds. Human beings have communicated with our sounds since our inception as a species. The oldest inventions that have been found by archeologists, that were made to enhance human breath as a musical instrument, are bone flutes that first came into use about 41,000 years ago.
The first rhythm and percussion instruments involved the clapping of hands, stones or bones, as they can be hit together in patterns. We can hypothesize that this primitive music of percussion and rhythm has existed for all of human history. The oldest drums were carved out of hollowed logs. Drums were used to communicate from one hillside to another, or from one village to another. The use of drums was also used to provide percussion for human dancing and chanting. Our original means of passing on information has been language. From the time that we used sounds, the art of storytelling has been shared as a primordial expression of human communication.
Art is subjective and highly personal, so a precise definition of art is probably impossible. Art is any object, process or activity that is created by a human being or a group of human beings to communicate emotions, instill a certain mood or state of mind, to stimulate an expanded state of consciousness, or to serve as a catalyst that stimulates intellectual inquiry that widens our currently defined thinking. Art is thus expressive and expansive; it stimulates intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth. Strict utilitarian communication states facts. Artistic communication activates the creative process to consider abstract, subtle meanings. Playwright George Bernard Shaw observed, “Most people look at the world and see what is. I look at the world and envision what is possible.”
Consider various forms of art. Music is always sound, but not all sound is music. Music is sound that is directed by human intention and action that achieves a creative, transformative effect as a sender communicates through their music with a receiver. Musical phrases in Grieg’s classical composition “Morning Mood” activate deep emotion. It evokes the pain of human suffering in a soulful rhythm. All good or great music elicits a strong emotion. A contemplative state is induced by Gregorian chant. A foot stomping, rollicking Rock and Roll band can stimulate a feeling of euphoria and enthusiasm. A seasoned old blues man once said, “The Blues isn’t about being sad; it’s about singing through sadness to bring you back to joy.”
Music is created by the human voice, breath, hands or feet to create sounds and rhythms that communicate a mood, state of mind, or emotion; to stimulate thought or expand consciousness within the musicians and those that experience the music. It is an axiom that music is “a universal language.” Music is communication that operates at a level beyond the conscious transfer of information with words. Music is subliminal and profound. Human beings have invented a wide array of instruments to enhance sound. Musical instruments improve and expand the ways that we can organize sound and project it out to others. The earliest human instruments developed to create music were drums, flutes and pan pipes. A plethora of string, brass, keyboard, woodwind and percussive instruments have been invented and improved over hundreds of years. During the last 60 or so years, electronics and computers have been used to enhance and amplify sound coming from our traditional instruments. Also, electronic devices such as synthesizers and computers have been used to make music directly as a new musical tool.
One of the most significant art forms is narrative storytelling. Contemporary storytelling includes theater, spoken word, films, novels, short stories, all of which derive from earlier tribal narratives. Our personal dreams are a process of human consciousness that sort through millions of synaptic inputs within our minds each day to record thoughts, information and emotions into a more integrative mental structure.
Dreams are like an internal search engine that sort through our conscious and subconscious minds to organize our personal data to expand and enhance our understanding. All forms of storytelling are communal imagining. Movies and live theater express our shared dreams and fears in a collective environment. Just like a shaman chanting around a fire who crosses over to other worlds to chase away demons or to summon divine intervention, films and live theater name and personify our fears and wishes in a cooperative setting. When we name our fears, we can either banish them or manage them. When we give voice to our visions, we can achieve them in our imaginations. The iconic thoughts and imagery that result from reverie and storytelling are integrated within our personal and communal worldview and cultural paradigm over time.
In the work of Carl Jung, a pioneering Swiss psychologist, he states that archetypes of psychological meaning and experience have been expressed collectively as myths and fairy tales, and at a personal level as dreams and visions – for all human history. In mythology, archetypes are called “motifs.” Anthropologists refer to “représentations collective.” German ethnologist Adolf Bastian referred to archetypes as “elementary” or “primordial” thoughts that he saw expressed again and again in a wide variety of cultures in tribal and early agricultural societies. These are not simply of anthropological interest; archetypes shape the meanings that matter in our lives usually without us knowing it consciously. Jung highlighted several archetypes, including “anima,” “mother,” “shadow,” “child,” “wise old man,” “spirits” of fairy tales, and the “trickster” figures found in myths. These myths were propagated through oral traditions, then later as literature, theater, and more recently through movies and broadcast television stories. The internet now has us all wired into a worldwide digital media.
In his definitive book on screenwriting Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting, author Robert McKee shares his understanding of the “hero’s journey,” a common theme in storytelling throughout many cultures, that is also a repeating pattern of story structure in novels and screenplays. From Homer’s Odyssey to Star Wars, such stories represent a higher level of meaning from human experience. Mythologist Joseph Campbell also speaks of the core structure of myth using the hero’s journey or the “monomyth” from his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, to explore this common cultural pattern.
We can trace a continuum of artistic expression from ancient cave paintings, to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, and even the images on our walls here at the Bohemian. Visual art manifests our archetypal symbols and visions to present these stimuli as artifacts that we can experience. Visual art reflects meanings that we interpret and that generates an emotion or a sense of symbolic recognition within our own consciousness. Art has an outer and inner dimension.
Visual art is produced using color, form, texture, light, shadow, image, symbol, and composition to communicate the creative intention of the artist to an active and receptive viewer. All art is participatory; The artist elicits a response, and we – the audience – respond and relate to the artistic creation. Very seldom do any two people perceive an art work in the same way.
There can be great works of art that present a defined image such as figural paintings and still life, or art works that use color, form and composition to call forth a more abstract response in the viewer such as a wide range of emotion, an array of mood, or perhaps more primal awe or wonder. There are many schools of thought about what constitutes good art, but in the final analysis, only you, as an individual viewer, can judge what art is in your own opinion.
We invite you to take a personal journey through all eight areas of the Bohemian to discover what the visual art here means to you. Our intention with the art that we present here is to celebrate music, life, food and art. The Bohemian collection is for your enjoyment.
Ti Tolpo Bader
As a child, Ti was exposed to the artist’s way of life, and was encouraged to develop her own freedom of expression, while growing up in the art studios of her parents, Carl and Lily Tolpo. Carl and Lily were well-known professional artists for many decades in Chicago. They were often commissioned to do portraits of notable families and social luminaries in the region. Their work is included in the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian. Carl is best remembered for his public sculptures of Abraham Lincoln. A collection of his paintings and sculptures as well as his extensive artistic archives are included in the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. Ti served as a model for many of her parent’s studio projects. During these painting sessions, a mirror was strategically placed so that Ti could observe her parent’s artistic process, and she was encouraged to ask questions as her parents worked. This was a great artistic learning and teaching opportunity. Her parents also gave Ti advice and critiques on the art works that she created. Additional knowledge and inspiration were provided through her studies of exhibitions that the Tolpo family often attended at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Frick Museum, and the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York. Art defined the Tolpo family. Ti Tolpo Bader, her parents and all of her siblings, have been professional artists.
In her adult life, Ti has been engaged as a full-time professional artist since 1986. During these productive years, she has carried out commissioned art projects for galleries, art collectors and individuals throughout the United States, Asia and Europe. Ti Tolpo Bader’s portraits and landscapes have been exhibited in many art venues throughout the United States. She has been featured in many juried art shows in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Colorado and Arizona.
Bader developed her love of nature, open landscapes, animals, flora and geology during annual summer family painting and camping trips to Yellowstone and other National Parks throughout the United States. This influence and life experience have directed her work as she presently creates a wide variety of art in her studio that is in Prescott, Arizona. Here at the Bohemian, Ti Tolpo Bader’s portrait of “Quincy Jones” is included in our gallery presentation “Icons of American Music.”
Mallett was born in Pennsylvania in 1948. He received his formal art training at the Art Students League and Hunter College in New York City. He first worked as a freelance artist in New York and then for fifteen years he was the in-house artist for Frontline Art Publishers.
Keith was commissioned to design the official limited-edition print commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s historic breakthrough into major league baseball. His art was chosen to grace the cover of Chicken Soup for The African American Soul, the first chicken soup story collection to deal exclusively with the African-American experience. Both Franklin Mint and Lenox Collections have created collectibles based on Keith’s most popular art. His artwork can be found in many private and corporate collections throughout the world. A feature article on Keith was published in U.S. Art magazine. Décor magazine recently documented his wide body of work with an artist’s profile.
As an inherently curious artist, Keith works in a variety of mediums. He first learned oil painting under the tutelage of Sidney Dickenson, a student of William Merritt Chase, the founder of Parson’s School of Design in New York. Later, Mallet found working with acrylic paint better suited his style. He also works in ceramics and as a print maker. Keith enjoys creating aquatint etchings hand-pulled on his own etching press. Keith says,
“I’ve always been intrigued by etching, but I felt intimidated by the mechanical process, the use of the chemicals and all that it involved. Once I overcame my initial trepidation, I found etching to be the ideal way to express my ideas. I love working on the cold metal plate, using grounds and acids to fashion a warm image. It is a real thrill to lift the paper from the inked plate and see the completed impression. Creating art has always been a joyful experience in my life. I feel blessed to be able to share that joy with others.”
The Bohemian is dedicated to a celebration of both art and music, so it is appropriate for us to include Keith Mallet here in our collection; in Mallet’s work, art and music are an integrated whole. While in New York, Mallett began doing art for the music industry; painting record covers for Virgin Records and doing graphic design for many well-known music groups. In 1980 he moved to Los Angeles to continue pursuing his art career. In Los Angeles he did art work for Def Jam and Jam Power Records. He began to exhibit his work in numerous Los Angeles galleries. He later moved his art studio to San Diego to work with Front Line Graphics. He then began to concentrate on painting fine art. With the worldwide acclaim for his very memorable painting “Generations,” Mallett launched Keith Mallett Studio, Inc.
Valerie Vescovi grew-up in Miami, Florida. For several decades, her art studio and home had been in Boca Raton, Florida. Vescovi has exhibited a natural talent for art, color, form and composition since early childhood. She has now been painting in oils and acrylics for many decades. Her original art work is exhibited by galleries in Boca Raton, and throughout the United States. She has spent her entire life developing and working in different styles that always remained distinctly her own. She has gradually evolved a signature neo-cubist technique to express her individualized interpretation of the life, art, music and experiences around her. Valerie is an artist who captures the bohemian aesthetic in her life and work. The best description of Vescovi’s work is stated in her own words,
“Recently I have been painting in bars, music clubs, cafes and on the street. I paint life, people, music, and street scenes…As my artistic vision developed, these scenes of daily life and human celebration started abstracting; the reality of what I see in the physical world is peeled away in a subtle way to reveal the underlying energy, emotion and movement of life. When I paint dancers, I want the viewer to feel the movement, when I paint musicians, I want you to feel the sound and rhythm. My abstractions of musicians and dancers have evolved into a style which could be referred to as Rhythmic Cubism…”
Mario Mariani (1907-1997)
Mariani was born in Naples, Italy. He studied art and architecture in Rome. After practicing for several years as an architect, he turned his time and attention completely to painting. He traveled extensively and is primarily known for his cityscape and street scenes of Paris, rustic and colorful locales in the countryside surrounding Naples, the canals of Venice, and other landscape settings throughout Europe. Over the many decades of his prolific career, Mariani became a familiar figure throughout Europe as he set up his easel to paint “en plein” air. He worked out of doors on site to capture the natural lighting and atmosphere of his subject matter. This gives a luminous quality to his oil paintings.
The oil painting by Mariani that we have here at the Bohemian was acquired from the estate of Benjamin Oehlert, a career US Ambassador and State Department official. Oehlert was an avid collector of international art work. The travels of Oehlert as an art collector and Mariani as a painter converged in 1968 when the work was originally purchased directly from the artist.
Luongo was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, of Italian heritage. Since as far back as he can remember, Luongo had two great passions: art and soccer. Shortly after his graduation from the Academy of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires, Luongo came to the United States to play professional soccer for the New York Generals. After his athletic career was cut short due to a severe injury, he stayed on in New York City to pursue his other passion; art. Since then, he has pursued his artwork full time. In the 1970s, he had his first major success with multiple reproductions of his black and white drawings that were offered through noted art galleries – not only were these prints released to great critical acclaim, they were a huge commercial success as well (hundreds of thousands of his prints were sold within several years). This success and wide exposure in the art world of New York put Luongo on the map as a major international artist.
Aldo has continued with a well-defined place in the contemporary art world for almost four decades. He has received numerous awards, honors and prestigious commissions; including being named a three-time official Olympic artist (Summer 1988, Summer 1996, and Winter 2002); an official World Cup artist (1998); and an official U.S. Women’s World Cup artist (1999). He was recognized as the 1999 Sports World artist of the Year (U.S. Sports Museum).
Luongo has twice been chosen to paint hand-crafted decorative eggs for the White House Easter Egg Hunt. These painted eggs now reside in the permanent Smithsonian collection. From his acrylics to his fine art prints, all of Aldo Luongo’s works of art embody a sense of fluidity and intensity, reflecting the work of a painter engaged in his personal and passionate process of creation. His bold, Impressionistic style has been referred to as “romance on canvas.” Central to all of Luongo’s paintings is a refined balance of key aspects of life; between memory and hope, sorrow and humor, freedom of expression and artistic discipline. He communicates the human condition. These moving dynamics are clearly apparent in his figurative paintings. Luongo’s artwork captures more than just the viewers gaze. Aldo Luongo has a zest for life that is expressed in the vitality of his distinctive art.
Robert Anderson (1945-2010)
Anderson was engaged actively in painting and printmaking since receiving his Master of Fine Arts degree from Pratt Institute in New York in 1972. He has been involved with digital image making since 1986, using computers as a graphical composition tool for planning complicated figurative paintings.
Robert’s work has, in contrast to his refined photo-realist technique, a casual feeling of the 60’s and 70’s. Anderson also successfully combines imagery from different eras of American history into modern motifs and fantasies. All of Anderson’s canvases are pleasurable to look at, a quality that makes their offbeat manipulation of time and space playful.
Anderson uses a soft-focus airbrush technique. He uses shadows to show that his foreground figures are not really part of their settings. His combination of soft-edged and hard-edged techniques provoke the viewer to wonder if all the elements are truly a part of the same scene. Anderson’s paintings are executed in a surrealist vein. Although they celebrate people and faces in a realist way, the atmosphere they evoke reaches into moods.
The moods of his works suggest mysteries of personality, character and the mind; thus, one is confronted with a kind of uneasy psychological portrait that transcends the visual, data of the features and structures of his works. The artist achieves his pictorial ambiguity between the real and surreal by the precision with which he depicts an individual and the uncertainty suggested by bold, dark areas and the somewhat mesmerizing glances of his subjects. He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. He was prolific as an artist and very active as an exhibitor of his work.
It is natural that Chatov’s work has a musical feeling because he began his career as a concert pianist in Russia. This renowned portraitist, whose clientele included hundreds of prominent people including the portraits for the primary people in Gone with the Wind including the author Margaret Mitchell, and the actors Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh commissioned by the MGM movie studio. As a young man, Constantin studied music at the National Conservatory of Music in Rostov, an affiliate of the prestigious St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music. In 1922, after the Russian Revolution, Constantin and his brother; Roman, and their parents fled their homeland for New York. “We left Russia because of communism,” he said. Constantin studied music at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia under the legendary tutelage of Isabelle Vengerova. He was a concert pianist in New York and an accompanist for the Ballet Russes, headed by Michael Mordkin, where he accompanied many famous ballet stars, including Anna Pavlova and Nemchinova. Constantin developed a severe carpal tunnel injury in his right hand which ultimately ended his professional career as a concert pianist. In the 1940’s he lived in Bermuda as a respite from this set back that ended his promising professional musical career. In 1950 he returned to New York City and began a new career; following his artistic passions into the world of painting and fine art. He studied under Robert Brackman at the Art Students League in New York and by the 1960’s was acclaimed for his figure studies, paintings and portraits. Settling in Atlanta in 1962, Constantin and Roman Chatov opened an art studio together and taught art classes in addition to their prestigious commissions. Constantin became an influential member of the arts community receiving, among other awards, the 1983 Governor’s Award in the Arts from the Georgia Council for the Arts and Humanities. Chatov’s work has been shown in galleries and museums on both continents and are widely represented in important private and corporate collections. Two of Chatov’s masterwork original oil paintings grace the walls here at the Bohemian; “Dancer” and “Violinist.”
Francois Gall, Hungarian by birth, became an impressionist painter in the pure French tradition after he moved to Paris in 1936. He was born in Kolozsvar in the former region of Transylvania on March 22, 1912. He studied various media at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Rome while working in a variety of jobs to secure a living. Financial support to pursue art as a professional then came in 1939 when the Hungarian government awarded Gall with an artistic sponsorship. Six years later, Francois Gall established himself in Paris and became a student of Devambez at the National Academy of Fine Arts. Francois Gall greatly admired the first generation of impressionists and adopted their concepts for his own interpretations of subject matter. Parisian scenes and portrayals of women engaged in typically feminine activities were among his preferred subjects. Fancois was a modern Impressionist, bringing to this most enduring style, his own unique personality. He participated in numerous Salon exhibitions in Paris and became a favorite within the art community. In 1963, he was honored with the prestigious Francis Smith Prize. He dedicated his life to his artistic pursuits. He died in his Paris art studio in 1987.
George Overbury Hart
George Overbury Hart was born in 1864 in Cairo, Illinois and was raised in Rochester, New York. He went to London on a cattle boat when he was 18. While in England he became an itinerant sign painter to support himself. Eventually he landed in Chicago, where he worked for a while as an illustrator for a newspaper and also as a sign painter for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 and other clients. Although Hart was initially self-taught, in the 1890s he attended the Chicago Art Institute on and off for several years, and in 1907 he spent a year at the Académie Julien in Paris.
For the first few years of the 20th century, Hart traveled all over the world: to Mexico, Central America, North Africa, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific, where he visited Tahiti in 1903, shortly after the death of Gauguin. Following his 1907 studies in Paris, he supported himself for about five years by working as a sign painter around New York City, and then he worked for most of a decade painting sets for the nascent film industry in New Jersey. He set up a studio in Coytesville, a neighborhood in Fort Lee, New Jersey across the Hudson from Manhattan, but he spent much of the 1920s traveling again.
Hart is said to have acquired his nickname of “Pop” after growing a beard during one of his many trips, and thereafter many of his works appear with the signature “Pop Hart.” He died in 1933 in Coytesville, where he struggled with poor health during his last years. From his early travels onward, Hart worked often in the highly portable medium of watercolor, and he developed a loose, vigorous style that eventually attracted the attention of the Knoedler Gallery in New York, which gave him his first show. Critics have singled out his eye for detail, his technical accomplishment, and his roguish humor for praise.
After moving to the New York City area, Hart became part of a celebrated artist colony in in New Jersey, that included such champions of avant-garde art such as Walt Kuhn, Arthur B. Davies, and Edward Hopper. Many of his associates in New York art circles were members of the Ashcan school of social realism, especially Robert Henri and John Sloan. Hart painted seaside and marine subjects near his studio in Coytesville, as well as a wide range of other subjects including animals, botanical studies, nudes, and landscapes.
On his travels, he focused on people’s daily activities and street scenes, giving those works a markedly dynamic quality that meshes well with his spontaneous, fluid brushwork. His style varies: some works show affinity with the delicate expressiveness of John Marin and Paul Cézanne, while others lean towards the harsher social realism of Diego Rivera or Robert Henri. By 1921 he had taken up print-making, working in drypoint, etching, and lithography from sketches made during his trips. Hart also continued to work in watercolor as well as gouache and was considered one of the leading watercolor artists of his day. He was awarded a bronze at the Sesquicentennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1926, and in 1935 the Newark Museum mounted a memorial retrospective exhibition of his work.
An indication of his popularity during his lifetime is the fact that in 1929, some of Hart’s paintings were included in a New York exhibition of nineteen living American painters held by the Museum of Modern Art – the second exhibition held by the museum. Hart’s work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Brooklyn Museum; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Smithsonian Institution; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the British Museum, and many other institutions in the United States and Europe. However, the largest single collection of his work is held by the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, which received some 5000 items as a gift from Hart’s niece, Jeane Overbury Hart, in the early 1980s. The Zimmerli Museum mounted a comprehensive survey show of Hart’s work in 1986 to coincide with the publication of a book on Hart’s life and work by Gregory Gilbert, then a research fellow in Rutgers’s Department of Art History.
David Schneuer (1905-1988)
Schneuer was born in 1905 in Austro-Hungary. He was raised in Germany mostly by his mother after losing his father in World War I. After graduating from the Munchner Kunstgewerbeschule, he moved to Paris, where he collaborated with many leading artists. By his early childhood his family decided to move to Berlin. On their way however, after a delay in Hamburg, the Schneuer’s settled permanently in Munich. As a Jewish boy in a Catholic school, Schneuer eventually joined a Zionist group that encouraged him to go to Prussia to learn more practical skills such as farming. Upon his return to Munich, with a more developed sense of a craftsman’s work, Schneuer began painting signboards for Jewish shops. After a six month stay in Berlin working as a very skilled sign painter, Schneuer returned to Munich and enrolled in the Berufsschule, where he studied artistic composition and design. Back in Munich he met Tim Gidal, a photographer, who persuaded Schneuer to move to Paris. In Montparnasse for a year and a half, Schneuer roamed the streets each night, returning to his tiny room on the sixth floor to draw being inspired not necessarily by what he saw, but by his imagination. His reliance on his imagination over the external world stayed with Schneuer throughout his entire artistic life.
David was known for his lively depictions of women and men engaged within the bohemian artistic milieu of Paris and other European cities. His work often expressed an erotic life, interpreted thorough subtle, fluid lines and a muted colors palette. Schneuer’s work can be compared with the art of other New Objectivity Expressionist painters like Otto Dix and George Grosz – who like Schneuer depicted various elements of modern life in the city and European nightlife. However, what set Schneurer apart was his grey – toned color palette and his usage of dark black outlines, a style which drew on his keen interest in Japanese printmaking.
Introverted and introspective, but not socially unaware, Schneuer’s work expresses an intuitive creativity without being nostalgic. He captures the bohemian lifestyle in his works of art. When he returned from Paris in 1927, Schneuer began painting posters for the theatre. He worked with one of the most renowned German set designers, Otto Reigbert. Schneuer’s artistic sensibility matured through this important collaboration. While most artists for the theater of the time painted in either a constructionist typography or a more flowery Art-Deco style, Schneuer’s engaging theatre posters reveal a unique balance between spontaneous image design and geometric lettering. His expression exhibits the freedom of improvisation, much like the jazz music in the clubs and cafes that he captured in his art. Living in Germany, Schneuer was not oblivious to other artists working at the time. While many of the experienced poster designers created lithographs, Schneuer was one of the first Munich artists to create linocuts. He was drawn to the work of other Expressionist artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit group, including Grosz, Dix and Schrimpf. Schneuer’s stylized, yet elegant and dynamic figures, in their unspecific environments, help blur the boundaries between illustration, advertising, and drawing – all while expressing a sense of subtle eroticism. His art work creates an alluring mood.
After a visit to Tel Aviv, Schneuer returned to Munich where he was soon arrested under fabricated accusations of being an artistic dissident and was confined to Dachau. After his release from Dachau, he had a short stay in Prague, and then moved to Tel Aviv permanently. Taken by the newness and open possibility of this new city (only 25 years old at the time of his first visit), Schneuer was inspired most by the eclectic atmosphere, a cultural milieu which allowed Schneuer’s imagination to expand. He continued to paint for public spaces to support himself, all the while also painting works of fine art from his memory and imagination. His elegant figures arranged in a seemingly blank setting, are at once active and passive, anonymous and identifiable, strong and delicate, engaging and yet calm. These qualities define the uniqueness of David Scheuner’s work, and its timelessness as well. His paintings, as well as his trade signs, posters and public murals, were received with great enthusiasm in the rapidly expanding city of Tel Aviv. The same motifs which he used while designing stage sets for Bertolt Brecht in Munich are found in many of his paintings–an understated eroticism, sensuous characters and exuberant humor enhanced by refined and muted colors.
After he settled in Tel Aviv, Israel, Schneuer worked on wall – decorations for hotels, cafes and jazz clubs. Included in his long list of credits was Hotel Dan Carmel in Haifa, a hotel in Abidjan in 1962 and the Zim company’s cruise ships built in Antwerp in 1964. David Schneuer always felt that his art was his personal statement while his craft was a collaboration between himself and his client. The author Thomas Mann, and generally the plight of the common man, strongly influenced Schneuer while in Germany. Ultimately, from the late 1960’s onward, his work seemed to deal less with reality than with its reflection within his lively imagination. Figures in Schneurer’s art seem to rise up from La Boheme, Baudelaire, Toulouse – Lautrec, Cheret and Mucha. His work was a Munich version of early Twentieth Century Paris – fashioned in a modern Tel Aviv at the later part of the 20th century. His vivid memories of people, places, and past relationships in Paris and Munich seemed to have recessed deep into his subconscious, because these images were powerfully expressed through his art.
David Schneuer’s art is a unique witness to artistic life in Europe between the two World Wars and the golden era of German Expressionism. There have been many times and places where a bohemian aesthetic has flourished: Zurich Switzerland, during World War I when artists and authors took refuge from the ravages of war in neutral Switzerland. Café Voltaire in Zurich during this time was the birthplace and the hotbed of the Dadaists. Greenwich Village in NYC from the 1920’s through the 70’s. The New York East Village from the 1970’s to the present, and the Harlem Renaissance are all examples. However, Paris between World War I and after World War II epitomizes the bohemian aesthetic. During these decades, many expatriate artists and writers from the US such as Langston Hughes, Ernest Hemingway, Grant Wood, Ed Keiffer and hundreds of others lived the bohemian lifestyle in Paris.
Unaffected by the ever – changing world about him, Schneuer continued to develop his unique expressionist style until his death. Schneuer died on November 1, 1988 in Tel Aviv. Today, his highly regarded works of art are held in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Tel Aviv Museum, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Spertus Museum in Chicago. We are pleased to include a complementary ensemble of 3 of his works as part of our creative space: “Backstage at Follies Bergere, Paris,” “Café, Paris,” and “La Boheme.”
Charles Wheeler Locke
Charles Wheeler Locke, painter, lithographer, illustrator, and a highly respected professional art teacher, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on August 31, 1899. He studied at the Cincinnati Art Academy. Further studies were in New York at the Art Students’ League with Joseph Pennell. He also studied with Herman Henry Wessel and John Ellsworth Weis. His engraving work was published by the U.S. Works Progress Administration during the Roosevelt Administration.
Locke taught lithography at the Art Students’ League between 1922 and 1937. He was a member of the National Academy of Design, Society of American Etchers, American Print Makers, American Society of Painters, Sculptors and Gravers, and the Century Club. He was awarded prestigious grants to encourage his further artistic work from the Tiffany Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Leo Meiersdorff (1934-94)
The lively and colorful art of Leo Meiersdorff has been featured prominently as the background art for Miles Davis’ Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as on many jazz album covers. Recently, the television industry has licensed Leo’s art as part of sets for NBC Universal’s Chicago Fire, Warner Bros. TV production the Flash and for the second season of the CBS TV production of NCIS: New Orleans. Two premier 2015 Jazz art exhibits in California featured his distinctive work: Jazz at Filoli and the 58th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival.
Leo Meiersdorff was a true rarity, a visual artist and jazz musician who spent much of his career as a jazz painter. His colorful depictions of jazz musicians have a distinctive personality that conveys the joy and excitement of the music. His widow Jennifer Meiersdorff says, “Many musicians have told me that he captured the energy and feel of jazz in his art work.”
Born in Berlin on Dec. 14,1934, Leo Meiersdorff was creative from an early age. Always interested in painting, he got in trouble with his parents once for painting with shoe polish on the walls. His relationship with his parents was often difficult – while they wanted him to eventually become a doctor or a lawyer, he was much more interested in art and music, learning to play piano. One time when he was a teenager and performing with his newly formed jazz combo at a concert, his angry father found him and dragged him off the stage. Despite that intervention, young Leo went his own way in life. He studied art at the Berlin Art Academy (Hochschule für Bildende Künste), raising money by working on a herring trawler in the North Sea and as a merchant seaman since his parents refused to support him. He became a master student of the Expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka in Austria and was also inspired by Max Pechstein and his art professor, Karl Schmidt Rottluff, both influential members of Die Brücke (the bridge), a movement that impacted modern art in the 20th century.
Meiersdorff, who listened to jazz on U.S. Armed Forces Radio and led his own jazz combo in Berlin, reached the turning point of his life in 1957. When there was a contest to design a poster for an upcoming Jazz at the Philharmonic concert presented by Norman Granz, he entered the competition and won, beating out one of his own professors. Leo was mesmerized by the music that he heard at the concert and soon visited the United States for the first time. Leo Meiersdorff, who became a permanent resident of the U.S. in 1966, spent several years alternating between living in Southern California, New York City, New Orleans and back in Germany.
As an artist he became quite prolific, often using watercolors or ink in his expressionistic figural paintings. His art was featured in numerous galleries on both coasts. Whether it was seeing Thelonious Monk in intimate New York clubs, portraying Dizzy Gillespie in several paintings, hanging out at the legendary Slug’s club, or spending time at Shelly Manne’s Jazz Club in Hollywood (he designed a logo for Manne’s club), Meiersdorff pursued both his art work and his love for jazz. He became a friend of producer Hank O’Neal, designing over 15 album jackets for O’Neal’s Chiaroscuro label and several for Concord. His most famous artwork, which later became the cover for the Blue Note classic Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Consummation record, depicts a cornetist and a drummer deep in musical flight with their backs toward the viewer.
A producer for the first New Orleans Jazz Festival spotted one of Leo’s paintings in a gallery on Lexington Avenue in New York City in 1969, contacted him, and hired Meiersdorff to be the festival’s art director. Meiersdorff provided original art work for the New Orleans Jazz Festival for several decades. The Newport Jazz Festival and the Monterey Music Festivals also commissioned his distinctive art work for festival posters.
Loving the atmosphere of New Orleans, Meiersdorff lived and worked in this city during 1969-79, including occasionally playing music (on piano and trombone) and having his own short – lived label which resulted in an album by trumpeter George Finola. It was an extremely busy decade for the artist. He often produced as many as 125 works of art in a month, from drawings to large watercolors. He also created a work that was commissioned by Duke Ellington (around 1969). Jennifer Meiersdorff summarizes this period: “It has been noted that when Leo arrived to New Orleans, color arrived. It was a profound turning point for the New Orleans art scene.” Jennifer met Leo in 1980, shortly after he had moved to Lake Arrowhead in Southern California.
Meiersdorff remained quite busy during the 1980s including fulfilling a commission from music recording mogul Herb Alpert to create six large paintings for the entry way of A&M Records, and working on many projects for vineyards, restaurants and jazz clubs. Woody Herman had a short-lived music club in New Orleans at the Grand Hyatt Regency Plaza and Meiersdorff traveled back to New Orleans to paint a huge 165-foot mural for the Bandleader’s club. Leo Meiersdorff passed away in1994 at the age of 59 from the effects of diabetes. More than twenty-five years have now passed, but Leo’s fame as a jazz artist has only grown. In his life, in addition to the paintings, he designed thousands of graphic projects and nearly a hundred record album covers (many that were not credited). More than any other visual artist, Leo Meiersdorff captured the vibrant colors, pulsing rhythm and raw vitality of the international jazz scene in his hundreds of works of art. We are pleased to include his original work here in our galleries.
Rafael is presently one of the more sought after emerging collectible international artists. Rafael’s works are exquisite in detail and dynamic in form. His subject matter is always well executed. He began his career with a cubist style and then turned to simplified, abstract shapes with hollowed out parts of human bodies – especially where one might expect curves. Rafael also created a noted multi-media sculptural style, composing it of wood, glass, and wire. He works in many media. Rafael has experimented continuously with the effects of negative and positive space. His more recent oil paintings, such as the two art works exhibited here at the Bohemian, are colorful impressionistic depictions of common life scenes in his homeland of the Philippines; “Morning Fresh Market, and “At Work in Rice Fields.”
Rafael is an engaging art teacher and a pioneering modernist sculptor of abstract human forms. He is a very active painter working in oil on canvas. His works are exhibited throughout the US and in the private collections of many actors and celebrities including, Eva Longoria, and Tiger Woods. Rafael currently paints and teaches in Southern California. He returns to his native Philippines to paint portraits of leaders in commerce, the arts and many in the public arena. Two Presidents of the Philippines have commissioned Rafael as an honored artist in residence to paint exceptional portraits of the President and his family.
George Bellows (1882-1925)
George Bellows was an American realist painter who was known for his bold depictions of urban life in New York City, becoming, according to the Columbus Museum of Art, the most acclaimed American artist of his generation.
Bellows was an early student of Robert Henri, who at the time was teaching at the New York School of Art. While studying there, Bellows became associated with Henri’s “The Eight” and the Ashcan School, a group of artists who advocated painting contemporary American society in all its forms. By 1906, Bellows and fellow art student Edward Keefe had set up a studio at 1946 Broadway Street.
George first achieved widespread notice in 1908, when he and other pupils of Henri organized an exhibition of mostly urban studies. While many critics considered these to be crudely painted, others found them refreshingly audacious, a step beyond the work of his teacher. Bellows taught at the Art Students League of New York in 1909, although he was more interested in pursuing his career as a painter. His fame grew as he focused on developing his style and painting.
Bellows’ urban New York scenes depicted the poverty and chaos of working-class people and neighborhoods and satirized the upper classes. From 1907 through 1915, he executed a series of paintings depicting New York City under snowfall. In these paintings Bellows developed his strong sense of light and visual texture, exhibiting a stark contrast between the blue and white expanses of snow and the rough and grimy surfaces of city structures, and creating an aesthetically ironic image of the equally rough and grimy men struggling to clear away the nuisance of the pure snow. However, Bellows’ series of paintings portraying amateur boxing matches were arguably his signature contribution to art history. They are characterized by dark atmospheres, through which the bright, roughly lain brushstrokes of the human figures vividly strike with a strong sense of motion and direction.
Growing prestige as a painter brought changes in his life and work. Though he continued his earlier themes, Bellows also began to receive portrait commissions, as well as numerous social invitations, from New York’s wealthy elite. Additionally, he followed Henri’s lead and began to summer in Maine, painting seascapes on the Monhegan and Matinicus islands.
At the same time, the always socially conscious Bellows also associated with a group of radical artists and activists called “The Lyrical Left,” who tended towards anarchism in their extreme advocacy of individual rights. He taught at the first Modern School in New York City (as did his mentor, Henri), and served on the editorial board of the socialist journal, The Masses, to which he contributed many drawings and prints beginning in 1911. However, he was often at odds with other contributors due to his belief that artistic freedom should trump any ideological editorial policy. Bellows also notably dissented from this circle in his very public support of U.S. intervention in World War I. In 1918, he created a series of lithographs and paintings that graphically depicted atrocities which the Allies said had been committed by Germany during its invasion of Belgium. Notable among these was “The Germans Arrive,” which gruesomely illustrated a German soldier restraining a Belgian teen whose hands had just been severed.
His work was also highly critical of the domestic censorship and persecution of antiwar dissenters conducted by the U.S. government under the Espionage Act. He was also criticized for some of the liberties he took in capturing scenes of war. The artist Joseph Pennell argued that because Bellows had not witnessed the events he painted firsthand, he had no right to paint them. Bellows responded that he had not been aware that “Leonardo da Vinci had a ticket to paint the Last Supper.”
As George’s later oils focused more on domestic life, with his wife and daughters as beloved subjects, the paintings also displayed an increasingly programmatic and theoretical approach to color and design, a marked departure from the fluid muscularity of the early work. One of Bellows’ central subjects was the sea, and he painted over 250 scenes of it during the course of his career. “The Fisherman” (1917), a significant late canvas focusing on the topic that he made while visiting Carmel, California, is in the collection.
As an expression of Bellows’ commitment to equality and personal freedom, he felt that the general public should have access to fine art. Therefore, in addition to painting, Bellows made significant contributions to lithography, helping to expand the use of the medium as an art in the U.S., and also to make copies of his work available to a much wider public. He installed a lithography press in his studio in 1916, and between 1921 and 1924 he collaborated with master printer Bolton Brown on more than a hundred images. We are pleased to have one such lithograph hand signed by Bellows here in our collection.
Katherine Arion graduated from the Nicolae Tonitza School of Fine Arts and the Nicolae Grigorescu College of Fine Art in Bucharest. Arion moved to Paris in 1992. After a decade working in her busy art studio in Paris and showing in galleries throughout Europe, she moved to Los Angeles where she has found success and recognition as a painter, muralist, print maker and illustrator.
Her figurative, colorful oil paintings have been included in exhibitions throughout Europe and more recently in her home state of California. Arion was commissioned to create a permanent installation of original art for the Consulate General of Romania in Los Angeles. Arion has completed numerous public and private commissions. Katherine has recently been painting iconic and colorful oil on canvas portraits of noted American musicians. Her art work has recently been included in the LA offices of American business magnate, producer, film studio executive, and philanthropist, David Geffen. We are pleased to include the colorful original oil painting by Katherine Arion “Elvis” as part of our presentation.
Neiman served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He worked as a cook until the end of the war when his art skills were recognized and put to use painting sets for Red Cross shows. This launched him on his lifetime work as a prolific artist. Following his return in 1946, Neiman studied at the Art Institute of Chicago on the G.I. Bill. After graduating, Neiman served on the Art Institute of Chicago faculty for ten years. During the time Neiman was teaching, he was exhibiting art in competitions and winning prizes. In 1954, Neiman began his association with Playboy magazine. Neiman had met Hugh Hefner while doing freelance fashion illustration for the Carson Pirie Scott department store chain, where Hefner was a writer. Hefner, and Playboy art director Art Paul, commissioned an illustration from Leroy for the magazine’s fifth edition. One day, he ran into Neiman on a street and asked him to become a regular contributor to Playboy. Among Neiman’s inputs to Playboy Magazine over the next 50 years he created the Femlin character for the party jokes page, and did a feature for 15 years titled “Man at His Leisure,” where Neiman would paint illustrations of his travels to exotic locations.
Beginning in 1960, he traveled the world observing and painting leisure life, social activities and athletic competitions including the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Kentucky Derby, championship boxing, PGA and The Masters golf tournament, The Ryder Cup, the World Equestrian Games, Wimbledon and other Grand Slam competitions, as well as night life, entertainment and jazz clubs in major international cities.
In 1970 Leroy did the original art for the cover of The 5th Dimension’s album Portrait. In 1998 he did all the illustrations for a special “Sports” issue of The Nation magazine, for which he received the magazine’s standard fee of $150. Soon after that phase of his career, Neiman developed just as much skill as a business man and self-promoting marketer as he had as an artist. Neiman produced about six different serigraph subjects a year, generally priced from $3,000 to $6,000 each. Gross annual sales of new serigraphs alone topped $10 million in one year. Originals can sell for up to $500,000 for works such as “Stretch Stampede,” a mammoth 1975 oil painting of the Kentucky Derby. In addition to being a renowned sports artist, Neiman has created many works from his experience on safari, including “Portrait of a Black Panther,” “Portrait of the Elephant,” “Resting Lion,” and “Resting Tiger.” Some of his other subjects include sailing, cuisine, golf, boxing, horses, celebrities, famous locations, and people at play. Much of his work was done for Playboy magazine, for which he still illustrated monthly until his death in 2012.
Neiman worked in oil, enamel, watercolor, pencil drawings, pastels, serigraphy and some lithographs and etching. Neiman was listed in Art Collector’s Almanac, Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in American Art, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in the World. He was a member of the Chicago Society of Artists. His works have been displayed in museums, sold at auctions, and displayed in galleries and online distributors. He is considered by many to be the first major sports artist in the world, challenged only in his later years by a new generation of artists like Stephen Holland and Richard T. Slone. His work is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian, the Whitney Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the State Hermitage Museum in Russia, Wadham College at Oxford and in museums and art galleries the world over, as well as in private and corporate collections. We are pleased to display five of Neiman’s limited issue serigraphs, signed by his own hand in our rooftop atrium.
One of the most prolific artists of his generation, Waldemar Swierzy’s innovative artwork captured the world’s attention and cast him at the center of an exciting, evolving graphic arts movement that began in Europe and spread across the globe over the last fifty years. His first work of art was publicly exhibited in 1950. He remained very active until his death in 2013.
Swierzy graduated from the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts in 1952. His early work was created for cultural and public events–film, theatre, circuses and musical performances. Promoters demanded eye – catching designs for event posters, and Swierzy’s bold, vibrant style earned him an international reputation.
As his status grew, Swierzy won the freedom to travel widely and to choose his subject matter. He painted portraits of jazz and blues greats from Benny Goodman, Miles Davis and Ray Charles. Swierzy worked with S2 Editions Atelier in Las Vegas where he created his American body of work – a series of widely admired and collected limited edition, hand signed lithographs. We have a compelling portrait of Ray Charles signed by Swierzy in our permanent collection. He was also recognized by the Hollywood Reporter for his posters for The Promised Land and The Dogs of War.
Swierzy’s artwork has been shown internationally with the Smithsonian Institute’s Traveling Exhibitions, Warsaw’s Muzeum Miejski Wroczawia, Galeria Grafki, and the Galeria Lenia Muzeum Hadwislandskiego Kazimierz Polny. The Jack gallery in New Orleans organized a ground – breaking exhibition “Waldemar Swierzy: Paintings, Hand-Signed Lithographs” and “Posters from the Polish Graphic Movement,” the first comprehensive showing of his artwork in the United States. In 1992, the government of Poland issued a postage stamp to honor one of his posters. Swierzy was a professor of the University of Fine Arts and the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw until his death in 2013. Known for their painterly quality, technique and composition, as well as their originality and sense of spontaneity, “Swierzy’s works are always fresh, easy and entertaining,” wrote fellow artist Niklaus Troxler in the book, Swierzy. The author states, “They are full of a joy of life, humor, and optimism.”
Doré was born in Strasbourg in 1832. By age 5 he was a prodigy artist, creating drawings that were mature far beyond his years. Seven years later, he began carving in stone at the age of 15, Doré began his career working as a caricaturist for the French paper Le Journal Pour Rire,. In the late 1840s and early 1850s he made several text comics, like Les Travaux d’Hercule (1847), Trois Artistes Incompris et Mécontents (1851), Les Dés-agréments d’un Voyage D’agrément (1851), and L’Histoire de la Sainte Russie (1854). Doré subsequently went on to win commissions to depict scenes from books by Cervantes, Rabelais, Balzac, Milton, and Dante. He was one of the most saught after illustrators of the 19th Century.
In 1853 Doré was asked to illustrate the works of Lord Byron. This commission was followed by additional work for British publishers, including a new illustrated Bible. In the 1860s he illustrated a French edition of Cervantes’s Don Quixote, and his depictions of the knight and his squire, Sancho Panza, have become so famous that they have influenced subsequent readers, artists, and stage and film directors’ ideas of the physical “look” of the two characters. Doré also illustrated an oversized edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, an endeavor that earned him 30,000 francs from publisher Harper & Brothers in 1883.
Doré’s illustrations for the Bible (1866) were a great success, and in 1867 Doré had a major exhibition of his work in London. This exhibition led to the foundation of the Doré Gallery in Bond Street, London.
In 1869 Blanchard Jerrold suggested that Doré and he work together to produce a comprehensive portrait of London. Jerrold had obtained the idea from The Microcosm of London. Doré signed a five-year contract with the publishers Grant & Co that involved his staying in London for three months a year, and he received the vast sum of £10,000 a year for the project. Doré was mainly celebrated for his paintings in his day. His paintings remain world-renowned, but his woodcuts and engravings, like those he did for Jerrold, are where he really excelled as an artist with an individual vision.
The completed book, London: A Pilgrimage, with 180 engravings, was published in 1872. It enjoyed commercial and popular success, but the work was disliked by many contemporary critics. Some of these critics were concerned by the fact that Doré appeared to focus on the poverty that existed in parts of London. Doré was accused by The Art Journal of “inventing rather than copying.” The Westminster Review claimed that “Doré gives us sketches in which the commonest, the vulgarest external features are set down.” The book was a financial success, however, and Doré received commissions from numerous other British publishers.
Doré’s later work included illustrations for new editions of Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, The Works of Thomas Hood, and The Divine Comedy. Doré’s work also appeared in the weekly newspaper The Illustrated London News.
Doré’s life was totally dedicated to his artistic pursuits. He never married and, following the death of his father in 1849, he continued to live with his mother, illustrating books until his death in Paris following a short illness. The city’s Père Lachaise cemetery contains his grave. At the time of his death, he was working on illustrations for an edition of Shakespeare’s plays. The government of France made him a Chevalier de la Légion D’honneur in 1861. A rare engraving by Doré that was printed in London now hangs in the Drawing room on the second floor here at the Bohemian.
Lily Spandorf was born in the Vienna of 1914. After graduating with honors from the renowned college of Fine and Applied Arts, she moved to London and later traveled throughout Europe achieving international recognition as a skillful watercolorist.
Spandorf arrived in the United States in 1959. While in the US, Ms. Spandorf worked as an illustrator for several noted publications such as the Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine and National Geographic. Lily was an internationally acclaimed artist who dedicated the second half of her life totally focused on capturing scenes and images of her beloved adopted hometown of Washington, D.C. Ms. Spandorf captured the beauty of District of Columbia as she served as an artist in residence within the administrations of several US Presidents. Those of us who are often looking at buildings instead of watching the road ahead understand why many of her friends would keep an eye out for interesting subjects that they would suggest for Spandorf to draw and paint. Art critic David Tannous said of her: “Lily didn’t simply make her home in the city, rather she made the whole city her home.”
She was commissioned by President John F. Kennedy, Jr. and President Lyndon B. Johnson to paint presidential state events, and beautiful Washington landscapes and monuments. Her admiration and love of Washington architecture inspired her to paint pictures of numerous iconic buildings which became an extensive collection of original paintings with the ensemble title of Washington Never More. This collection is owned by the Washington Historical Society. Many of her paintings depicting historic places in Washington were given as presidential gifts to visiting international dignitaries.
Ms. Spandorf’s works are showcased in US Embassy locations around the world. Collections of her paintings are housed at the White House Library, the Senate Art and History Library, the Smithsonian Institute, the National Press Club, many noted museums around the world, and in the private homes of former US Presidents, and foreign dignitaries. Lily designed the second US Christmas stamp for the US Post Office. Her work, which includes commissioned pictures of U.S. presidents, members of Congress and foreign heads of states, was exhibited not only in Washington but also in New York and in many cities in Europe. Katherine Graham, the legendary publisher of the Washington Post, had an ensemble of Spandorf’s paintings on her office walls. The following is quoted from Lasting Impressions by Sarah Booth Conroy (a longtime columnist and editor at the Washington Post):
“The last time I saw Lily Spandorf, she was sitting in the White House vestibule with her usual artist’s rig, painting quietly while an official state party went on in the East Room. I later learned Lily had stayed long after the guests departed to finish that year’s drawings of the White House’s Christmas decorations.”
Spandorf’s White House holiday paintings were often purchased by private art collectors and publications like the Georgetowner, the Washington Post, National Geographic and the old Washington Evening Star.
Lily was often seen on Washington street corners with her watercolors, gouache and ink – usually painting buildings about to be torn down. Spandorf was a passionate Washington preservationist. “By and by it dawned on me what was happening in this city,” she once said, “how many scenes that I thought were so attractive were rapidly disappearing.” She stated during an interview, “I won’t sell these paintings one by one anymore. Eventually these will be an interesting collection that needs to be seen as a whole.”
Just before her death in April 2000, Spandorf arranged for the sale of her “Washington Never More” collection to the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. The plan was for this collection to be placed permanently in the new City Museum, scheduled to open in 2003. Her dream was fulfilled, and this set of lost images and iconic historic locations of D.C. live on there today.
One hundred fifty-five of her works were also posthumously exhibited at Strathmore Hall Arts Center. The exhibit covered nearly 40 years of her work. Publisher Austin Kiplinger, whose father bought a Spandorf painting of the Washington Cosmos Club, collected her works over many years and exhibited them. The Kiplinger Foundation has generously supported the Strathmore Hall exhibition. In the preface to the 158 pages of small photographs and large paintings in “Lily Spandorf’s Washington Never More,” by Mark G. Griffin and Ellen M. McCloskey, Kiplinger wrote: “As an artist, Lily had the great quality of being immediately recognizable; the delicacy of her brushstrokes translating her vision through shades of light and line.” Works on display include “My Old Corner, Looking South on 20th St., Connecticut Avenue and the Dupont Circle Underpass, from Hillyer Place, NW” and “Music Store, 12th & G Streets, NW.” Also included are “Old Botanic Gardens Office with Capitol in the Background,” “The Capitol”, and “Old Belasco Theater on Lafayette Square.” In this exhibit her photographs of old buildings were contrasted with cityscapes that she painted with watercolor or gouache. “Houses are like people,” Spandorf said, “they have faces, they have personality. Both take on new qualities over time.”
Late in her career she became celebrated for passionately recording the rapid transformation of Washington’s urban landscape, especially the many red-brick, late-nineteenth century buildings facing demolition, being demolished, or whose historical streetscape context were erased forever by modern construction surrounding and overcoming them. What could not be preserved as Washington architecture on the streets and avenues that Lily loved, she preserved for posterity in the images of her art. The Spandorf watercolor “Sunday Afternoon Concert in the Park, Vienna” is presented here at the Bohemian.
Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966)
Maxfield Parrish was an American painter and illustrator active in the first half of the 20th century. He is known for his distinctive saturated hues and idealized neo-classical imagery. His career spanned fifty years and was wildly successful: his painting “Daybreak” is the most popular art print of the 20th century.
Maxfield Parrish was born in Philadelphia to painter and etcher Stephen Parrish and Elizabeth Bancroft. His given name was Frederick Parrish, but he later adopted Maxfield, his paternal grandmother’s maiden name, as his professional name. He was raised in a Quaker society. As a child he began drawing for his own amusement, showed talent, and his parents encouraged him. Between 1884 and 1886, his parents took Parrish to Europe, where he toured England, Italy, and France, was exposed to architecture and the paintings by the Old Masters, and studied at the Paris school of a Dr. Kornemann.
He attended the Haverford School and later studied architecture at Haverford College for two years beginning in 1888. To further his education in art, from 1892 to 1895 he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under artists Robert Vonnoh and Thomas Pollock Anshutz. After graduating from the program, Parrish went to Annisquam, Massachusetts where he and his father shared a painting studio. A year later, with his father’s encouragement, he attended the Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry.
Parrish entered into an artistic career that lasted for more than half a century, and which helped shape the Golden Age of illustration and American visual arts. During his career, he produced almost 900 pieces of art including calendars, greeting cards, and magazine covers. Parrish’s early works were mostly in black and white. His later works are known for vivid color and the play of light.
In 1885, his work was on the Easter edition of Harper’s Bazaar. He also did work for other magazines like Scribner’s Magazine. He also illustrated a children’s book the Mother Goose in Prose written by L. Frank Baum. By 1900, Parrish was already a member of the Society of American Artists. In 1903, he traveled to Europe again to visit Italy.
Parrish took many commissions for commercial art until the 1920s. Parrish’s commercial art included many prestigious projects, among which were Eugene Field’s Poems of Childhood in 1904, and such traditional works as Arabian Nights in 1909. Books illustrated by Parrish are featured in A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales in 1910, The Golden Treasury of Songs and Lyrics in 1911, and The Knave of Hearts in 1925.
Parrish was earning over $100,000 per year by 1910, when homes could be bought for $2,000. Parrish worked with popular magazines throughout the 1910s and 1920s, including Hearst’s and Life. He also created advertising for companies like Wanamaker’s, Edison-Mazda Lamps, Colgate and Oneida Cutlery. Parrish worked with Collier’s from 1904 to 1913. He received a contract to deal with them exclusively for six years. He also painted advertisements for D.M. Ferry Seed Company in 1916 and 1923, which helped him gain recognition in the eyes of the public. His most well-known art work is Daybreak which was produced in 1923. It features female figures in a landscape setting. The painting also has undertones of Parrish blue. In the 1920s, however, Parrish turned away from illustration and concentrated on painting.
In his forties, Parrish began working on large murals instead of just focusing on children’s books. His works of art often featured androgynous nudes in fantastical settings. He made his living from posters and calendars featuring his works. Parrish used Kitty Owen as a model in the 1920s. Susan Lewin also posed for many works and became Parrish’s longtime assistant. From 1918 to 1934, Parrish worked on calendar illustrations for General Electric.
In 1931, Parrish declared to the Associated Press, “I’m done with girls posed on rocks,” and opted instead to focus on landscapes. Though the landscapes never as popular as his earlier works, he profited from them. He would often build scale models of the imaginary landscapes he wished to paint, using various lighting setups before deciding on a preferred view, which he would photograph as a basis for the painting (see for example “The Millpond”). He lived in Plainfield, New Hampshire, near the Cornish Art Colony, and painted until he was 91 years old. He was also an avid machinist, and often referred to himself as “a mechanic who loved to paint.” By 1935, Parrish exclusively painted landscapes.
Parrish’s art is characterized by vibrant colors; the color “Parrish blue” was named after him. He achieved such luminous color through glazing. This process involves applying alternating bright layers of oil color separated by varnish over a base rendering. Parrish usually used a blue and white monochromatic underpainting.
Parrish used many other innovative techniques in his paintings. He would take pictures of models in black and white geometric prints and project the image onto his works. This technique allowed for his figures to be clothed in geometric patterns, while accurately representing distortion and draping. Parrish would also create his paintings by taking pictures, enlarging, or projecting objects. He would cut these images out and put them onto his canvas. He would later cover them with clear glaze. Parrish’s technique gave his paintings a more three-dimensional feel. The outer proportions and internal divisions of Parrish’s compositions were carefully calculated in accordance with geometric principles such as root rectangles and the golden ratio. In this Parrish was influenced by Jay Hambidge’s theory of Dynamic Symmetry.
Parrish’s works continue to influence pop culture. The cover of the 1985 Bloom County cartoon collection Penguin Dreams and Stranger Things comprises elements of “Daybreak,” “The Garden of Allah,” and “The Lute Players.” The movie poster for The Princess Bride was inspired by “Daybreak.” In 2001, Parrish was featured in a US Post Office commemorative stamp series honoring American illustrators.
The Elton John album Caribou has a Parrish background. The Moody Blues album The Present uses a variation of the Parrish painting “Daybreak” for its cover. In 1984, Dali’s Car, the British New Wave project of Peter Murphy and Mick Karn, used “Daybreak” as the cover art of their only album, The Waking Hour. The Irish musician Enya has been inspired by the works of Parrish. The cover art of her 1995 album The Memory of Trees is based on his painting “The Young King of the Black Isles.” A number of her music videos include Parrish imagery, including “Caribbean Blue.” In the 1995 music video “You Are Not Alone,” Michael Jackson and his then wife Lisa Marie Presley appear semi-nude in emulation of “Daybreak.” The Italian singer-songwriter Angelo Branduardi’s fourth album La pulce d’acqua of 1977 featured a nine inlay full colour print reproduction of painter Mario Convertino’s works; one of them is clearly inspired by Parrish’s “Stars.”
The original painting of “Daybreak” sold in 2006 for $7.6 million. The National Museum of American Illustration claims the largest body of his work, with sixty-nine works by Parrish. Some of his works are located at the Hood Museum of Art (Hanover, New Hampshire), the Cornish Colony Museum (Windsor, Vermont), and several at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The San Diego Museum of Art organized and toured a collection of his work in 2005.
The American painter Norman Rockwell referred to Parrish as “my idol.” Parrish suffered from tuberculosis for a time in 1890. During his recuperation, he had time available to experiment. During his illness, he experimented with oil paints and glazes to create vibrant colors that became his style. His signature blue color was developed at this time.
While studying at Drexel, Parrish met his future wife, Lydia Ambler Austin. The couple was married in 1895 and moved to Philadelphia. They would go on to have four children together. In 1898, Parrish moved to Cornish, New Hampshire with his wife and built a home that was later nicknamed “The Oaks.” The home was surrounded by beautiful landscapes that inspired Parrish’s drawings. From 1900 to 1902, Parrish painted in Saranac Lake, New York, and Hot Springs, Arizona to further recover his health. Parrish’s youngest child, Jean, posed for “Ecstasy” just before leaving for Smith College. Jean was the only child to follow her parents’ profession. Parrish died on March 30, 1966 in Plainfield, New Hampshire, at the age of 95.
“Un bar aux Folies Bergère”, painted and exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1882, is considered the last major work of French painter Édouard Manet. It depicts a scene in the Folies Bergère nightclub in Paris. It originally belonged to the composer Emmanuel Chabrier, who was Manet’s neighbor, and the painting hung over his piano. The painting exemplifies Manet’s commitment to Realism in its detailed representation of a contemporary Paris scene. Many features have puzzled critics but almost all of them have been shown to have a very logical rationale, so this intriguing painting has been the subject of numerous popular and scholarly articles.
The central figure stands before a mirror, although critics – accusing Manet of ignorance of perspective and alleging various impossibilities in the painting – have debated this point since the earliest reviews were published during the lifetime of the painter. In 2000, however, a photograph taken from a suitable point of view of a staged reconstruction was shown to reproduce the scene just as it was painted by Manet. According to this reconstruction, “the conversation that many have assumed was transpiring between the barmaid and gentleman is revealed to be an optical trick – the man stands outside the painter’s field of vision, to the left, and looks away from the barmaid, rather than standing right in front of her.” As it appears, the observer should be standing to the right and closer to the bar than the man whose reflection appears at the right edge of the picture. This is an unusual departure from the central point of view usually assumed when viewing pictures drawn according to perspective. Asserting the presence of a mirror has been crucial for many artists. It provides a meaningful parallel with “Las Meninas,” a masterpiece by an artist Manet much admired, Diego Velázquez. There has been a considerable development of this topic since Michel Foucault broached it in his book The Order of Things (1966).
The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (French: Les mots et les choses: Une archéologie des sciences humaines) is a 1966 book by the French philosopher Michel Foucault. It was translated into English and published by Pantheon Books in 1970. In the book, Foucault endeavours to excavate the origins of the human sciences, which have their root in “life, labour, and language,” that is: biology, economics, and linguistics. The book opens with an extended discussion of Diego Velázquez’s painting “Las Meninas” and its complex arrangement of sightlines, hiddenness, and appearance. Then it develops its central claim: that all periods of history have possessed certain underlying epistemological assumptions that determined what was acceptable as, for example, scientific discourse.
Foucault develops the notion of episteme, and argues that these conditions of discourse have changed over time, from one period’s episteme to another. Foucault demonstrates parallels in the development of three fields: linguistics, biology, and economics.
I am not aware of any contemporary art that is an inspiration for such serious philosophical and scientific inquiry. Also, I am not aware of contemporary scientists that look to art for inspiration. That kind of interdisciplinary intellectual inquiry is a serious need in our present culture.
The art historian Jeffrey Meyers describes the intentional play on perspective and the apparent violation of the operations of mirrors: “Behind her and extending for the entire length of the four and a quarter foot painting, is the gold frame of an enormous mirror.” The French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty has called a mirror “the instrument of a universal magic that changes things into spectacles, spectacles into things, me into others, and others into me.” We, the viewers, stand opposite the barmaid on the other side of the counter and, looking at the reflection in the mirror, see exactly what she sees. A critic has noted that Manet’s “preliminary study shows her placed off to the right, whereas in the finished canvas she is very much the center of attention.” Though Manet shifted her from the right to the center, he kept her reflection on the right. Seen in the mirror, she seems engaged with a customer; in full face, she’s self-protectively withdrawn and remote.
This iconic painting by Manet is rich in details which provide clues to social class and milieu. The woman at the bar is a real person, known as Suzon, who worked at the Folies-Bergère in the early 1880s. For his painting, Manet posed her in his studio. Other notable details include the pair of green feet in the upper left-hand corner, which belong to a trapeze artist who is performing above the restaurant’s patrons. The beer bottles depicted are easily identified by the red triangle on the label as Bass Pale Ale, and the conspicuous presence of this English brand instead of German beer has been interpreted as documentation of anti-German sentiment in France in the decade after the Franco-Prussian War.
Max Papart (1911-1994)
Max Papart’s paintings, paper collages, and graphics are suffused with sunny humor and the bright colors of the French Riviera where he was born. Working in the cubist style, he depicted circus scenes, flirting couples, soaring birds and similar cheerful subjects with flat, overlapping planes of contrasting colors and textures.
Max Papart is considered a master printmaker. He was born in Marseille, France and later moved to Paris where he learned the techniques of classic engraving. In 1960, he added to the classic processes the technique of etching with carborundum, invented by his friend Henri Goetz. In following years, Papart taught printmaking at the University of Paris VIII-Vincennes. He continued making his own plates and supervising the hand printing of his prints until he died in 1995.
One of the most intriguing effects which Papart achieves is a “window” through which the viewer senses the past or future, or even another time or place. It has been said Papart does not “paint,” he “composes.” His compositions come together in a symphony of line, shape and color. Papart always believed that each painting has its own meaning and needed no interpretation from him. His paintings, in his own words, “force the viewer to think, and it is for the viewer to respond to the art based on his own personal experiences.” A noted art critic André Parinaud put it, “Max Papart is one of the masters of the second cubist generation.”
Rene Vincent (1879-1936)
Rene Vincent was born in Paris. He studied art at l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Working in an Art Deco style, he became an illustrator much in demand for his poster designs depicting the first generations of automobiles and racecars, including Bugatti, Peugeot, and other car makers, as well as suppliers of automotive parts and supplies, such as Michelin tires and Shell.
Vincent also excelled in creating elegantly designed poster advertisements for fashion, beverages, and other products. He sometimes signed his work with the pseudonym of Rageot. He influenced many other poster designers, including Geo Ham who followed in his footsteps in designing iconic automotive posters. Since they capture the Art Deco style so well, vintage posters by Rene Vincent are highly prized by international art collectors. Here in the Bohemian is a fine example of Vincent’s work: an Art-Deco poster for Porto-Ramos Pinto wine, issued as a lithograph printed in 1925 by Etab nts Vercasson, 6 Rue Martel, Paris, France.
Jane Wooster Scott
Raised in Eastern Pennsylvania, Jane Wooster Scott grew up around picturesque Bucks County and the surrounding Amish communities. Her earliest personal recollections go back to the section of that country which, in the 1940’s of her childhood, still retained aspects of the nostalgic era which inspires the images that she paints. For 15 years, her paintings have summoned memories of our national heritage – the traditions, holidays and customs of an innocent and energetic young America. When asked why a modern woman living in Los Angeles would devote her career to painting images of a bygone era, Wooster Scott says it is her deep love for Americana. She often travels throughout New England seeking pastoral vistas and old buildings as inspiration her colorful artwork.
She photographs what she sees so that she can recapture these images later as she works on canvas with oil paints. However, few of her paintings are real, existing scenes. They are nostalgic compositions drawn from her personal thoughts, memories and emotions. She exhibits her work often in Los Angles and New York galleries. Most of her art exhibits have completely sold out on opening night. Among the most avid collectors of her work have been Aaron Spelling, Sylvester Stallone, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Nancy Sinatra, Henry Fonda, Carol Burnett, Jean Stapleton, Elizabeth Taylor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charles Bronson, Steve Wynn, Merv Griffin, Dyan Cannon, Kirk Douglas, and the illustrious art collector Joseph Hirshhorn – all are admirers of Wooster Scott’s Primitive Americana.
Her art works are on view in American embassies around the world and are part of the permanent White House collection. A turning point for her career was a joint showing at the Ankrum Gallery in Los Angeles with her comedian friend, Jonathan Winters. She sold out her 40 paintings on exhibit within an hour at the show. She has had a very busy art career from that point forward.
Scott grew up in the Philadelphia area and moved West pursuing her dream to be a film actress. She quickly learned that goal was not for her, but she did become the host of a talk show where she interviewed movie stars and other celebrities. She then married and quit her work as an actress, becoming a full-time mother. Painting in her home studio was a way to blend all of her most important interests in life. Her life has been focused on her family and her art.
Currently, she divides her time between homes in Los Angeles and Sun Valley, Idaho, and creates images for limited edition prints published through her own design business. Her art work now appears on Christmas cards, calendars, puzzles, plates and other items produced by her company. Of her life and work, she says,
“I’m a very happy person, and I think it shows in my work. One thing everyone says to me without fail is that whenever I look at your work it makes me happy. And that’s good; we have enough stressful things in the world. We don’t need it hanging on our walls.”
Here at the Bohemian, we have her signed limited-edition work “Jazz Festival.”
Delacroix could be considered the French counterpart of American painter Jane Wooster Scott. Both are considered “naïve” or primitive painters. Both capture nostalgic images of earlier times in their respective homelands. Delacroix sums up his work: “I paint the Paris that was.” Michel Delacroix was born in Paris in 1933. He was educated at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. After two years, he interrupted his studies temporarily to work in set design, and for a short time he worked with Marcel Marceau. Upon graduating, he became an art teacher and as a teacher Delacroix dabbled in several different styles of painting. With time, he established the one style that is attributed uniquely to him. Delacroix’s primitive style in his paintings and graphics combines structure and detail, with rich color, to convey the bustling diverse activity of the streets of Paris. Delacroix is recognized as one of the most important primitive artists of our time.
Art collectors in the USA are familiar with the paintings and limited editions of Michel Delacroix as a result of the work of his son Bertrand Delacroix who was proprietor of fine art galleries in New York City and Boston until the time of his death in 2015.
Born in Paris in 1964, Maxwell studied art and design at the College of Fine Arts with a master of classical arts. As a long-term resident of Paris, Maxwell became obsessed with the visual beauty and energy of street life in France. He focused his work on painting Paris city scenes until he found a unique and personal style to capture the vibrant beauty of his active artistic life. His work reflects the colorful artistic nuances of the lively cafe culture of Paris.
Known for his passionate paintings, which he brings to life with vivid colors and energetic brush strokes, Philip Maxwell has gained the attention of art collectors from around the world. Here at the Bohemian, we present three of his paintings inspired by the confluence of music and art: “The Orchestra,” “Jazz Club,” and “Tango.”
In an age when the rules of art had either been abandoned in favor of an anti-formalist attitude, or had been institutionalized in academic study, William Tolliver emerged as a brilliant self-taught artist – a Mississippi born renaissance man whose creative intelligence combines the study of formal structure with an innate sense of human observation. Far from the marketplace of the New York City art world, Tolliver arose during the mid-1980’s as a brilliant regional talent that had gained wide spread international acclaim before his untimely death in 2000 at only 49 years of age. Tolliver was impelled by a desire to capture the landscapes and peoples of his native deep South. Whether dealing with everyday workers or back-alley jazzmen in New Orleans, his work conveys a universal message of the human experience. While plaintive in mood, Tolliver’s works evoke compassion with an underlying sense of expressive emotion. “I could draw on a lot of sad and depressing things that have happened in my life, but I’d rather emphasize the positive.” Just like a Blues musician singing through his blues and woes to capture the joy of life, Tolliver painted through his blues to unleash a life full of color, vitality as an authentic expression of his soul. An artist of insight and natural ability, Tolliver delivers an artist message imbued with his unique expression and spiritual insight.
Tolliver was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Although his mother worked in the cotton fields by day, she found time to rear and educate 14 children. To stimulate their interest in learning, she often challenged William and his older brother to drawing contests. Discovering William’s talent, she borrowed art books from the library that exposed her son to the works of the European masters. His astute observation led him to study subjects from books, black and white photographs, nature, comics, and family members who posed as models. Since the local public schools did not have an art curriculum, Tolliver continued his course of self – study. From inexpensive dime store watercolor sets purchased with money earned by mowing lawns, Tolliver learned to mix and blend colors by using a paint by numbers kit. Using this system, he experimented with mixing color and skin tones, and by the age eight was able to create anatomically accurate sketches and paintings.
Despite his avid study of color and form, Tolliver began to experience a “feeling of emptiness” toward realistic art. At age 13, he discovered the work of another self-taught artist, Vincent van Gogh. The work of Vincent served as a revelation. Tolliver was quoted in the International Review of Art: “Van Gogh painted purely for the love of color and self- expression,” he continued; “I can relate to that. I also liked his use of color, the way the light was reflected in his paintings, the powerful emotions in his work.” Tolliver was also inspired by Van Gogh’s focus on his local countryside and its rural folk, painting with a power of deep human insight. “Van Gogh painted people digging potatoes and struck a universal chord,” Tolliver explained in Upscale Magazine. While relating to the destitute farmers and laborers of Van Gogh’s Holland, Tolliver found even more significance in the study of his own people living within the Mississippi Delta that were the substance of his own family life.
At age 14, Tolliver dropped out of school and left Mississippi to join the Job Corps program in Los Angeles. During his year and a half stint with Job Corps, he studied carpentry at a government-sponsored trade school. Assisted by an instructor at the trade school who was also a visual artist, Tolliver received additional instruction and information about the techniques of painting.
From Los Angeles Tolliver moved to Milwaukee, where he served for a time as an assistant to a local sculptor. While there he met a number of other artists whose encouragement and exposure to a wide range of art helped him gain a greater appreciate for his own work. The artist eventually returned to Vicksburg, Mississippi to be close to his close-knit kin, taking a day job in construction and spending his evenings painting.
He married in 1977 and, in 1981 he moved his family to Lafayette, Louisiana, where an oil boom had created employment opportunities in the construction trades. In Lafayette, he worked as a wallpaper hanger and a house painter. Two years later, however, the city’s building industry fell into decline, leaving Tolliver unemployed. Laid off from his job and without income, he set out to relax in his free hours by painting with his young daughter’s paint kit.
Tolliver’s wife, Debrah, confident that her husband’s painting would sell, suggested he show them to a gallery. Tolliver, however, believed his works would not be well received and refused. Defying her husband’s decision, Debrah Tolliver presented nine cajun landscape paintings to Bob Crutchfield, owner of Lafayette’s Live Oak Gallery. In an interview with Contemporary Black Biography (CBB), Crutchfield pointed out that the works showed great potential and real talent. The nine paintings sold in ten days; requests for more followed. Tolliver soon began to paint in a new and unique style that has been termed “representational abstract expressionism.” Bringing these new works to Life Oak Gallery, Tolliver presented them to Crutchfield, who, upon realizing that Tolliver had reached a new creative level, stood speechless, unable to find words to express his elation. In Galerie Royal’s biography of Tolliver, Crutchfield recalled, “I was silent, not because of anything other than complete awe.” Assuming Crutchfield did not like the works, Tolliver began to gather them in his arms. As Crutchfield related to CBB, Tolliver disappointedly told him, “I knew you wouldn’t like them.” Crutchfield immediately assured Tolliver that he found the paintings to be excellent and that he wanted to show them at his gallery. These new paintings all sold within 24 hours.
Lafayette’s oil industry brought in out of state businesspeople and investors, who purchased Tolliver’s art. This led to much wider exposure of Tolliver’s work. In the late 1980’s, the artist’s abstract style paintings were shown at museum exhibitions, including the Contemporary Art Center of New Orleans, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the U.S. Senate Building in Washington, D.C. Critically ranked with such famous African-American artists as Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence, Tolliver soon gained a reputation as one of America’s most renowned contemporary artists.
Able to work in numerous mediums – oil, acrylic, watercolor, oil pastel, and dimensional reliefs – Tolliver constantly explored new techniques. By his own desire and inquiry, he has, according to Nanette Jolivette in the Lafayette Times, “managed to bridge the gap between the humanities and the sciences.” In Tolliver’s opinion, the organization of abstract colors is a “mathematical” and deeply analytical process. Using a creative method similar to that of great writers and musicians, Tolliver brings together an astute understanding of formal structure with the inspirational and spiritual nature of the human experience – qualities not often found within the ranks of most academically trained artists. Tollliver exhibits rare artistic authenticity.
Like other African-American artists such as Mississippi born novelist Richard Wright and Jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, Tolliver traveled a path of self-discovery and independent vision. He grasped the elements of form while expressing a unique creative perspective. Viewing art as an important means of human communication, Tolliver asserted, “Nothing in my paintings are for decoration; everything serves a purpose in creating the mood or atmosphere of a painting.” A serious student of such modernist painters as Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, and Marc Chagall, Tolliver lived his life as a prolific artist, spending countless hours painting, preparing, and researching methods and techniques. He was totally immersed in his work.
Equally important to Tolliver is his concern for thematic content. He stresses that art is a means for documenting one’s personal history. This outlook has inspired him to capture scenes of rural black Southern life in works that have included themes of cotton-pickers, stevedores, children fishing, and women tending the earth by hoe. Describing Tolliver’s observation of working people, Louisiana State University professor of art Joann E. Quillman wrote in her book Celebration of Life and Color, “Particular attention was paid to Tolliver’s subject’s hands. The importance of manual labor, or rather work that hands could do, was emphasized by enlarging them and using them as design elements in themselves. The enlargement of the hands, then the torso, and finally the heads filled the canvases until Tolliver’s people became monuments to celebrate the dignity of honest labor and to celebrate life itself.” In addition, Tolliver’s passion for African-American music has resulted in numerous works portraying Blues and Jazz musicians. His paintings of musical subjects evoke not only the mood and sensibility of the musician, but the atmosphere and the sounds of music itself. Though he initially created art out of personal desire and self-expression, Tolliver believes the purpose of art is to communicate with his fellow human beings. “Art has no place in society,” Tolliver contended in the Lafayette Times, “if it doesn’t move anybody but its creator.” This belief, combined with his deep passion and an exploratory creative intelligence, has produced works rich in human experience. Like the great African American storytellers and musicians portrayed in his art work, Tolliver demonstrated a visionary artistic talent that now remains as a legacy to American culture.
Tolliver has received numerous awards and recognitions for his contributions in the field of art. Tolliver’s exuberant art work is included in the private collections of Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Barack and Michelle Obama, Will Smith and Robert De Niro. Here at the Bohemian, we are pleased to include a rare artist’s proof signed by Tolliver.
Dhimitri Zonia (1921–2016)
During his long career, Zonia has had numerous one-man exhibits in many international locations and throughout the USA as well as permanent exhibits. Zonia completed art commissions for the Missouri Botanical Garden poster limited edition, Polish Bi – Ennial exhibit poster, Anheuser-Bush art prints limited edition, as well as a series of original art works for the Anheuser-Bush corporate offices in St. Louis.
Over many decades as a full-time artist, Dhimitri Zonia developed skillful techniques as he used his brush, easel and oil paints. He had the eye and method of an old master, but he approached his work with the whimsy and wit of a playful child – usually his figurative paintings evoke surrealistic images. This is evident in of two original paintings by Dhimitri that we display in our collection here at the Bohemian: “The Beatles Land in America” and “Music Festival/Summer of Love.” After 95 years living life on his own terms, this venerated bohemian passed on into the eternal in 2016. His work lives on to inspire others at the Bohemian in Cedar Rapids.
“I want people to hear the music in my paintings,” says Zinovy Shersher. Born and raised in the former Soviet Union, Zinovy began his artistic life in his early youth. Already attending music school, he began to study art at the age of 9. Once he had finished high school, Shersher began his studies at the University of Fine Arts in the city of Kursk. After being awarded a Master of Arts degree in 1970, he enrolled in the Kursk College of Music, graduating in 1976.
In 1972 Shersher moved to Moscow, where he unofficially began his career in visual arts. Since he refused to paint politically related images, such as portraits of Soviet leaders, the Soviet authorities would not allow Shersher to exhibit his art to the public. With the help of his friends, he showed his art in underground exhibitions, in secrecy from the authorities. Regardless of the obstacles on the path of his artistic career, Shersher did not give up his creativity and continued to work in both visual arts and in music. He searches for creative interrelationship in music and art.
With the fall of The Soviet Union, Zinovy Shersher found a way to exit his homeland. Upon arrival in the United States, Shersher enrolled in New York’s prestigious School of Visual Arts. It was not long before his art was flourishing with his new freedom and began to receive critical acclaim in one-person and group shows in New York galleries.
A composer as well as a painter, Shersher creates lyrical paintings which merge the emotional and intellectual into melodic images of passionate expression. Strong feelings for movement, expressed with curvilinear lines and cubist sensibilities, form a counterpoint to the artist’s peaceful and harmonious themes. Sam Feiginov (an art professor) states, “Zinovy Shersher’s work creates a unique, capacious and dynamic form, filled with interplay between space and color. It displays a matured, personal esthetic and world view…”
Today, the work of Zinovy Shersher is featured in significant collections throughout the United States and Europe. In Los Angeles, where he currently resides, Shersher’s art has been exhibited in several established galleries, and a few galleries that work on the cutting edge of art. One of Shersher’s most important works has drawn considerable attention in Los Angeles, particularly in the Aliso-Pico area where artist installed a 2,000 square foot mural entitled “We have a future.” He donated six months of his time to this project which earned him numerous awards, a certificate of appreciation from the city of Los Angeles and the daily appreciation of community residents that live near this beautiful work of art. In 1992, Shersher was commissioned to create stained glass windows for the Russian Chabbad Synagogue in Los Angeles. In windows, in his own style, he created historical compositions of Moses, the First Temple, God Creation of the World, etc. In 1993 he was commissioned to do a composite painting with portraits of the first Oscar winners for the 65th anniversary of the Oscars.
In addition to galleries in LA, New York and Chicago, he is also represented by the R&S Gallery of The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Hollywood Entertainment Museum. With his compelling story of leaving the Soviet Union to pursue his art in freedom in the USA, there have been more than100 newspaper and magazine articles about Shersher as well as TV and Radio interviews to explore and document his career. His biography is in the “Encyclopedia of living artists in America,” “Who is who in Art” and “Who is who in the West.” With his interest in all forms of music, Zinovy Shersher did a series of art works depicting iconic American musicians. We are pleased to present Schersher’s painting of Stevie Wonder here as part our permanent collection at the Bohemian.
Michael Schofield is a well-known landscape painter who was born in 1947. He moved with his family to Oakland, California that same year. Growing up in California he thought he going to play pro-baseball. In his sophomore year at Oakland High School, under the tutelage of his art teacher Jackie Jenson, he began painting and studying watercolor and oil painting while still in high school. His art teacher recognized his special talent and for nearly two years tutored Schofield privately to develop his talent as a painter.
After high school, Michael went into the military during the Vietnam war, and then on to art school in Nashville, Tennessee. During the summers, he studied in residence with well-known water colorist John Pike (a contemporary of Robert Wood) in Woodstock, New York. He soon opened his own art studio in Woodstock, where he taught and painted for 12 years. Schofield believes that art is fundamentally communication. He chooses to create more traditional landscapes because it is with this imagery that most people in our culture relate. It is imagery that evokes a memory and therefore a feeling. In this manner, the artist and those who live with his art share a common experience. As a successful artist for several decades, Schofield’s distinctive landscape paintings can be found in many private and corporate collections. As an interesting side note to Iowans, Schofield’s art was used on the film sets of “The Bridges of Madison County.”
The landscapes of Michael Schofield are a prized addition to any art collection. His work is celebrated for the wealth of their fine detail, for the radiancy of their colors, and for the unfailing consonance of their diverse visual parts which enables those elements to form a harmonious visual whole. Schofield has a rare ability to summon up memories and images of different times and places, from many years before and from miles and miles away, and then recombine them on canvas with entirely new results. He is known for his signature elegance of style. It is fortuitous for us here at the Bohemian that Michael Schofield makes it a point to travel with paints, palette and easel. He has captured the romance of Moulin Rouge, a bohemian artistic landmark in Paris. “Moulin Rouge” by Schofield adds considerable color in here at the Bohemian.
Stephen Fishwick knew that he wanted to make art his livelihood since the young age of seven. Fishwick took his first formal painting class at age ten and continued to work on his art through high school. A strong senior year portfolio allowed Fishwick to attend the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and later study under Jeff Watts at the Watts Atelier of the Arts in Southern California. All his hard work and study paid off; currently, Fishwick’s works of art are presently held by both private collectors and corporations, including the NFL, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Volkswagen, Honda, Anheuser-Busch. When speaking about his inspiration, Fishwick says, “Every day I fall in love with drawing the human face and form. My sketchbooks are filled with drawings of life, from people to animals.”
Fishwick has gained international fame as a performance artist. He founded the show “Paint in Motion,” a live performance piece, during which he creates live portraits of icons like Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles and Bono set to their music. “Paint in Motion” has been performed with international acclaim in Kuwait, Germany, New York, and Las Vegas. Fishwick’s “Jimi Hendrix” is presented on our “Icons of American Music” in the Music Gallery at the Bohemian.
Jorn Fox was exposed to painting and drawing at an early age by his father, an art instructor and abstract painter. Even though Jorn studied art at California State University, he still believes that his real education came from the endless hours he spent painting in his father’s studio. There, blank canvasses provided by his father offered him with unlimited opportunity for expression, exploration and discovery to develop his art. His father served as his living model of a working artist. Varied landscapes are a reoccurring theme in Jorn’s work. He is currently working on a series of impressionist scene’s “The Road Series,” a figurative set, coastal images, landscape views, jazz scenes, and a series titled “Captured Moments.” Fox has a signature elegance of style, yet each of his paintings are distinct from one another, as are the various stunning locales, people, and engaging moments that inspire his paintings. Jorn Fox’s distinctive works have achieved national recognition and are included in numerous private and corporate collections throughout the United States.
Working with palette knife and brush, Jorn evokes a serenity and stillness in his work, while simultaneously creating liveliness and motion. His striking use of color, much of it pure and thickly layered, exalts and even immortalizes what he chooses to depict on canvas. Jorn is frequently referred to as a California Impressionist, yet his work possesses a singular style that is clearly differentiated from French Impressionism. Fox displays balance of color and form in his beautiful art work.
As a “plein air” artist, Jorn has been inspired for decades by the varied terrain of the California coast and its people. He is also equally confident in his studio: painting a live model, still life, and applying paint to canvas based on his drawing studies out in the field. A favorite subject of Jorn Fox are on site paintings of working musicians as they play in clubs around Southern California. He captures the rhythm of their music in the way that he applies the stroke of his brush. Fox has painted many Jazz and Blues musicians while they work. Here at the Bohemian, we have his original oil painting of a Mariachi Band that he captured on canvas as they performed at an outdoor festival on a beach.
Itzchak Tarkay (1935–2012)
Tarkay was born in 1935 in Subotica, on the Yugoslav-Hungarian border. In 1944, Tarkay and his family were confined in the Mauthausen concentration camp, until Allied liberation freed them a year later. In 1949, his family emigrated to Israel, living in a kibbutz for several years. Tarkay attended the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in 1951, and graduated from the Avni Institute of Art and Design in 1956.
His art was influenced by French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, particularly Matisse and Toulouse-Lautrec. His work was exhibited at the International Art Expo in New York City in 1986 and 1987. As a result of exposure of his work at this event, he attained considerable recognition as an international artist. He has been the subject of three books, published by Dr. Israel Perry, proprietor of Perry Art Galleries of New York and Tel Aviv, which served as primary representative of his work.
Tarkay’s art is focused on dreamlike images of elegant women in classical scenes which draw you into an imaginary world. Tarkay drew upon the long span of art history to inspire and then to define his distinctive style. He has created a body of work that is aesthetically agreeable and compositionally seductive. Tarkay’s own roots as a professional painter took hold in the decisive years of modern art. The bright colors and flat patterns build on artistic paths first forged by Matisse, Mouly, and the Fauves.
Tarkay would construct a perspective and then take it away – conceptualizing the plane of his canvas. His process of painting took him through an abstract transformation; perspective dissolves into colors and shapes. The sense of mystery in the work of Tarkay must be discovered for oneself. Tarkay achieved international recognition as a leading representative of a new generation of figurative artists. As well as being an acrylic painter and watercolorist, Tarkay was a master graphic artist and his rich tapestry of form and color was achieved primarily through the serigraph. In his serigraphs, many colors are laid over one another and used to create texture and transparency.
When asked about his technique, Tarkay said it’s impossible to describe. “Can you explain your own handwriting?” He used his instinct to choose his colors and couldn’t define any other reason. “When a work is finished, sometimes I’ll change the colors. It’s not something I think about – I just do it.” Most of his choices were instinctive–inspired by his surroundings, the music he listened to, the places where he traveled, and nature. Very often, Tarkay painted “en plein” air and brought his sketchbook outdoors. As it grew dark, he would take a series of photos and finish the work in his studio.
Tarkay said that the most difficult part of his work as a painter was realizing when a work was complete. He recalled going to a show once after he had not seen his paintings in about three months; he had the urge to re-touch each and every piece. To him, the works were never done. In the later years of his life, Tarkay shared his gifts by mentoring younger Israeli artists including, David Najar, Yuval Wolfson and Mark Kanovich, who often visited his studio, worked alongside him and received his critiques. Tarkay was also the only artist to collaborate with Israeli master, Yaacov Agam. He and Agam created two paintings which incorporated both artists’ imagery in a single painting.
Tarkay spent between five and six hours each day in the studio, six days a week. While he had very little free time, he enjoyed going to concerts, reading books, listening to music, and visiting friends. Tarkay expressed how much he enjoyed meeting his collectors and his happiness to work with the other artists when working with Park West Gallery. He felt no sense of competition with them, only mutual love and appreciation. He was proud to have such a wonderful relationship with artists, collectors, and galleries.
In an excerpt from Itzchak Tarkay (1993) by art historian, author, and critic, Joseph Jacobs, PhD, the author writes:
“Itzchak Tarkay is a refreshing anomaly in today’s art world, and perhaps it can even be said that his work, which seems to stand outside of the mainstream, nonetheless anticipates the direction of art in the near future. In a world so preoccupied with being politically correct, with dealing with social issues, with making art that is anything but painting, Tarkay holds on to timeless, universal values–to values that have staying power and do not simply ride the tide of fashion…Tarkay’s work always has a classical, timeless quality…”
Tarkay, who studied with Mokady, Janko, Schtrichman and Stematsky at the Avni Institute of Art in Tel Aviv, is thoroughly grounded in European artistic traditions. There are touches of Bonnard, Vuillard, Picasso, Modigliani, Klimt, and Magritte in his art, which includes drawings and prints. His work, however, does not look like that of any of these masters. But he shares many of their aesthetic values, and in particular the idea that art should not proselytize or preach, but instead should deal with timeless issues. Today, Tarkay is considered one of the most influential artists of the early 21st century and has inspired dozens of artists throughout the world with his contemplative depiction of the female figure.
Conger Metcalf (1918 – 2014)
Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Conger began his art studies at the Stone City Art Colony, after which he enrolled at Coe College and studied under Marvin Cone. After graduating from Coe in 1936, Metcalf studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which was to become his long-term home, although he always maintained close ties to Cedar Rapids. During his service in World War II, and on subsequent trips to Europe afterward, Metcalf studied European masters, who were very influential on his work. Metcalf developed his own style, which diverged considerably from his mentors in Stone City. He used an effective method of coating the surface to be painted with clay. This adds dimension to his work.
During an illustrious fifty year career, Conger Metcalf was the recipient of many prestigious awards such as the Tiffany Foundation Prize, and First Prize, Boston Arts Festival. In 2014, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art had a retrospective exhibit of his work on the 100th anniversary of Conger Metcalf’s birth. The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has extensive holdings of his art. His artwork can also be seen in permanent collections at the Café Pamplona in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts, and at the Conger Metcalf Gallery at Coe College. His work is held in many other private and museum collections including former US President Gerald Ford, Fogg Museum, and Boston Museum. The Bohemian was able to acquire an original art work by Conger Metcalf from Ahlers and Ogletrie Galleries in Atlanta, Georgia. “Summer Anemones.” is now presented in the salon on the second floor.
Sir Frederick Leighton
Leighton was born in Scarborough, England. He had two sisters including Alexandra who was Robert Browning’s biographer. He was educated at University College School, London. He then received his artistic training on the European continent, first from Eduard von Steinle and then from Giovanni Costa. At age 17, in the summer of 1847, he met the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in Frankfurt and painted his portrait, in graphite and gouache on paper – the only known full length study of Schopenhauer done from life. When he was 24 he was in Florence; he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti, and painted the procession of the Cimabue Madonna through the Borgo Allegri. From 1855 to 1859 he lived in Paris, where he was an associate of Ingres, Delacroix, Corot and Millet.
In 1860, he moved to London, where he associated with the Pre-Raphaelites artists. He designed Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s tomb in 1861 for Robert Browning in the English cemetery, Florence. In 1864 he became an associate of the Royal Academy, and in 1878 he became its President (1878–96). His 1877 sculpture, “Athlete Wrestling with a Python,” was considered at its time to inaugurate a renaissance in contemporary British sculpture, referred to as the “New Sculpture.” American art critic Earl Shinn claimed at the time that “Except Leighton, there is scarce any one capable of putting up a correct frescoed figure in the archway of the Kensington Museum.” His paintings represented Britain at the great 1900 Paris Exhibition.
Leighton was knighted at Windsor Palace in 1878, and was created a baronet, of Holland Park Road in the Parish of St Mary Abbots, Kensington, in the County of Middlesex, eight years later. He was the first painter to be given a peerage, in the 1896 new year honors. The patent creating him Baron Leighton, of Stretton in the County of Shropshire, was issued on 24 January 1896, Leighton died the next day of angina pectoris. His one-day tenure as a Lord was the shortest in the history of Britain.
After his death, his Barony was extinguished after existing for only a single day; this is a record in the history of British Peerage. His house in Holland Park, London has been turned into a museum, the Leighton House Museum. It contains many of his drawings and paintings, as well as some of his former art collection including works by Old Masters and his contemporaries such as a painting dedicated to Leighton by Sir John Everett Millais. The house also features many of Leighton’s inspirations, including his collection of Iznik tiles. Its centerpiece is the magnificent Arab Hall. The Hall is featured in issue ten of the magazine Cornucopia. A blue plaque commemorates Leighton. Here at the Bohemian, we display a complementary pair of his art works that we found in a gallery in London.
Norman Rockwell (1894–1978)
Norman Rockwell is best known for the paintings that he did on commission to serve as the covers for the Saturday Evening Post for 47 years. The public loved his often humorous depictions of American life. Norman Rockwell was born in New York in 1894. Talented at a young age, he received his first commission at age 17. In 1916, he created the first of 321 covers that he would complete during his tenure with the Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell’s Americana images were loved by the public, but not embraced by art critics. He created World War II posters and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977. He died on November 8, 1978.
Born Norman Percevel Rockwell, he knew at the age of 14 that he wanted to be an artist, and began taking classes at the New School of Art. By the age of 16, Rockwell was so intent on pursuing his passion that he dropped out of high school and enrolled at the National Academy of Design. He later transferred to the Art Students League of New York. Upon graduating, Rockwell found immediate work as an illustrator for Boys’ Life magazine.
By 1916, at 22 years of age Rockwell, newly married to his first wife, Irene O’Connor, had painted his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post – the beginning of his relationship with that iconic American magazine. Some of his most iconic covers included the 1927 celebration of Charles Lindbergh’s crossing of the Atlantic. He also worked for other magazines of this era, including Look, which in 1969 featured a Rockwell cover depicting the imprint of Neil Armstrong’s left foot on the surface of the moon after the successful moon landing. In 1920, the Boy Scouts of America featured a Rockwell painting in its calendar. Rockwell continued to paint for the Boy Scouts for the rest of his life.
The 1930s and ’40s proved to be the most fruitful period for Rockwell. In 1930, he married Mary Barstow, a schoolteacher, and they had three sons: Jarvis, Thomas, and Peter. The Rockwells relocated to Arlington, Vermont, in 1939, and the new world that greeted Norman offered the perfect material for the artist to draw from. Rockwell’s success stemmed to a large degree from his careful appreciation for everyday American scenes, the warmth of small-town life. Often, what he depicted was treated with a certain simple charm and sense of humor. Some critics dismissed him for not having real artistic merit, but Rockwell’s reasons for painting what he did were grounded in the world that was around him. “Maybe as I grew up and found the world wasn’t the perfect place I had thought it to be, I unconsciously decided that if it wasn’t an ideal world, it should be, and so painted only the ideal aspects of it,” he once said.
Rockwell didn’t completely ignore the more challenging issues of his time. In 1943, inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he painted the four freedoms: “Freedom of Speech,” “Freedom of Worship,” “Freedom from Want” and “Freedom from Fear.” The paintings appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post and proved incredibly popular. The paintings also toured the United States, and the tour raised in excess of $130 million toward the war effort. In 1953 the Rockwells moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where Norman would spend the rest of his life.
Following Mary’s death in 1959, Rockwell married a third time, to Molly Punderson, a retired teacher. With Molly’s encouragement, Rockwell ended his relationship with the Post and began doing covers for Look. His focus also changed, as he turned his attention to the more challenging social issues facing the United States. Much of his work during this time centered on themes concerning poverty, race and the Vietnam War.
In the final decade of his life, Rockwell created a trust to ensure his artistic legacy would thrive long after his passing. His work became the centerpiece of what is now called the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. In 1977 – one year before his death – Rockwell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Gerald Ford. In his speech Ford said, “Artist, illustrator and author, Norman Rockwell has portrayed the American scene with unrivaled freshness and clarity. Insight, optimism and good humor are the hallmarks of his artistic style. His vivid and affectionate portraits of our country and ourselves have become a beloved part of the American tradition.” Norman Rockwell died at his home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, on November 8, 1978.
Norman Rockwell worked as a very prolific illustrator, and never personally claimed to be anything more during his long career. However, he imbued his works with significant emotional depth and frequent intellectual content. He elevated his work beyond “mere” illustration. However, at the specific time when he worked, the focus of the art world (and the society it mirrored) was focused on the rational and the abstract, so that it was not possible for Rockwell to get his artistic due from his contemporaries. No one in any position of authority in the art world during his lifetime would have dared acknowledge his artistic merit – if they even noticed it.
It is only now, as art and society are re-opening to other possibilities and re-discovering their emotive sides, that Rockwell can be seen fully and objectively. Art appreciators in a society are of that society. And if the society is biased in any one direction, it will not be appreciative until society changes in a new direction and provides fresh, unbiased observers. This is one reason why we keep “discovering” forgotten artists from previous eras. We find something that the artist’s contemporaries did not see. No one ever questioned Rockwell’s technical skill as a painter, but only now are a few galleries and museums coming to consider his work as “fine art.” Retrospectives of his work have taken place recently in several cities. “Ruby Bridges,” a Norman Rockwell painting, is permanently displayed at the White House.
Here at the Bohemian we have included a limited edition print titled “The Connoisseur.” This was issued as a special edition commemorative print on the 100th anniversary of Rockwell’s birth. This work by Rockwell posits the eternal question that is never adequately answered: what is art? What qualifies as fine art? That question is really for you to answer. What art works do you personally enjoy? What works of art engage you emotionally and intellectually?
Mervin Jules (1912- 1994)
Born in Baltimore, Mervin Jules received artistic training at Baltimore City College and the Maryland Institute College of Art, graduating in 1934. Prior to his formal study, in Baltimore Jules designed silk prints, painted china, cared for children and helped in his father’s clothing shop in order to make ends meet; he received a scholarship to attend MICA in 1932 at the age of 18. At MICA, Jules studied art and art education for two years. The first artwork he exhibited was in 1935 at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) in the All-Maryland show. Jules later studied in New York at the Art Students League (1937) under Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975). Mervin Jules held his first one-man show in New York City in November 1937. Gallery owner Hudson D. Walker wrote of the show, “Jules exhibited small tempera panels, sombre in tone, powerfully conceived and executed and a series of gouaches done in the coal country of Pennsylvania.”
Jules’ focus on images of social commentary led to his admiration for the works of Rembrandt, Francisco Goya, and particularly Honoré Daumier. Jules typically used dramatic and evocative lighting where sinewy figures emerge from darkened backgrounds, much like the paintings of Daumier. Like other social-realist artists, his subjects are most often depictions of the plight of the poor and disadvantaged. Jules’ works also encompassed satires against fascism and social ills. Hudson Walker wrote, “Although some of the critics deplored the irony and disillusion in the work of a man so young, they all agreed that here was an artist who felt strongly and painted ably, even though they didn’t necessarily agree with his ideology or his conclusions.”
In 1939, Jules’ satirical painting “To-Morrow Will be Beautiful” was exhibited at the Carnegie International and the San Francisco World Fair. Its subject was a group of planners, silhouetted against scenes of social problems, envisioning a world of harmony and compassion in a sweeping panorama of fields and mountains; optimism for the future is intimated by a pregnant woman pictured in the landscape. Of his technical approach and subject matter, Jules said,
“The thing to be expressed determines the elements which comprise form. space, color, line, and sense of volume are not mere plastic playthings, but are used to communicate my interest and excitement about people and what they do. In this way, painting is esthetically integrated so that it becomes a content whole. Emphasis and selection highlight the subject and bring to the artist’s audience a new and more vital understanding of contemporary life.” (as quoted by Ruth Green Harris, An Exhibition of Paintings, Art Exhibition Catalogue, ACA Galleries, New York, New York, Jan 12-25, 1941.)
In addition to painting, Mervin Jules was also an active printmaker whose well – known woodcuts are represented in the BMA’s collection. He was a teacher of art at the Fieldston School, the Museum of Modern Art (1943-46), the Baltimore Educational Alliance, and the Veterans Art Center and at Smith College. After teaching at Smith College, in 1969 he became chair of the art department at the City College of New York. For many years he kept a private art studio in Province town, Massachusetts, a notable bohemian enclave of artists and writers. Here at the Bohemian we have a Mervin Jules etching titled “The Orchestra.”
Minor Works by Major Artists
An elderly, well known European gallerist had retired to the Finger Lakes district of central New York state. After he passed in 2017, a friend of ours who was familiar with this person’s lifelong work in the European art scene contacted us. Our friend informed us that a small portfolio included in the European gallerist’s personal collection would be available at the estate sale conducted by his family. This small portfolio contained a very intriguing collection of “small works” by major artists. The gallerist had spent his lifelong career selling major works by Picasso, Dali, Gustav Klimt and Pierre Bonnard. This small portfolio included small sketches and studies by these major artists that the gallerist had kept as a memento of his lifelong work in European galleries. We were able to acquire this small portfolio. We thus present to our patrons here at the Bohemian, “Minor Works by Major Artists:” Picasso, Dali, Gustav Klimt and Pierre Bonnard. We have 52, so far.
Here at the Bohemian we have the following art areas: the Keiffer collection in the original first floor, gallery in the galley (food and agriculture art), icons of American music in the cafe, eclectic expressions of a variety of musical and artistic styles in the drawing room and salon, art in the Bohemian rooftop atrium, wine cellar (posters and wood carvings). The bohemian aesthetic is an international spirit that we celebrate in our art and environments.