ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries Presents
A Solo Exhibition of Sculpted Oil Paintings by
Renowned American Neo-Pop Artist Leslie Lew
May 3rd through July 31st, 2013
Receptions for the Artist to he hosted at the Gallery in
Conjunction with the Monthly First Fridays
Coral Gables Gallery Nights
on May 3rd, June 7th and July 5th From 6pm to 10pm
MIAMI, FL, MAY 2, 2013 – Mickey Mouse, Popeye, Wonder Woman, Animal Crackers, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and Dick, Jane & Sally are among the very fondly remembered and undeniably classic American subjects of works to be showcased in “American Memories,” a one-woman exhibition of sculpted oil paintings by renowned neo-Pop artist Leslie Lew at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries. ”American Memories” will open on Friday, May 3rd with a reception for the artist from 6:00pm to 10:00pm.
“Leslie Lew is a contemporary, neo-Pop version of Norman Rockwell,” said ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries’ owner and director Virginia Miller.
“I’m grabbing and preserving fond memories of time-honored Americana,” says the artist. “Some of these are starting to fade.”
Featuring some of American’s most iconic images, Leslie Lew offers a nostalgic trip back to childhoods ranging from the 1930s to 1970s. Permission from The Walt Disney Company, DC Comics, and the Kellogg Company allows her to re-create comic book covers of America’s most beloved childhood heroes along with perennially favorite breakfast cereals.
“When faced with the legendary things and characters of our youth, rendered with unrestrained enthusiasm, it’s hard not to smile, to remember the pleasure of eating Animal Crackers, toting the box on its little white string; to feel a little girl’s aspiration to be Wonder Woman, and to be transported by cartoon lives—so familiar and yet so unlike our own,” noted Kathy Greenwood, a curator for Albany, NY International Airport’s Art & Culture Programs.
Contributing to the impact of her paintings is the artist’s special technique, which she calls “sculpted oil,” paintings on canvas in high relief to create a three-dimensional effect.
After earning her BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1982, Lew was one of a dozen artists selected to participate in a Whitney Museum studio program. She became a leading artist in the New York’s East Village Art Movement, where she was friends with Jean-Michel Basquiat, who introduced her to Andy Warhol at her first opening in New York.
Lew lived and worked in a large Gramercy Park loft just above Julian Schnabel’s. Other well-known artists in the group included Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Kenny Scharf, and Keith Haring.
“Keith, Jean-Michel and Andy did a show of matchboxes in a pop-up gallery on 6th Avenue with me and other artists,” she recalls. “I did a painting of the opening, and I put Andy in the corner of it with his little Brownie camera. Andy loved young artists—he was always looking for the next new thing. He helped me a lot, introducing me to all sorts of people. We hung out together.
“I did my version of Andy’s silkscreen, “Moon Explorer,” and he thought it was a hoot. He asked me to do a trade with him—my ‘Moon Explorer’ for one of his ‘Marilyns.’ Then he went into the hospital for a gall bladder operation and he died. I helped to archive all of his work for the foundation.”
Today Lew’s painting of “Moon Explorer” is owned—appropriately—by U.S. astronaut Robert C. “Woody” Spring. Her works are included in dozens of major collections, including those of Si Newhouse, the Tisch Family, Conde Nast, MCA Records, Sylvia Miles and Cyndi Lauper in New York; the Sainsbury Collection in London; and the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
“My first painting of ‘Animal Crackers’ is in the lobby where children are admitted to the Mayo Clinic,” she said.
Lew has participated with the superstars of the contemporary art world in a number of other exhibitions. To cite just a few:
That same year, Lew’s work was featured in the prestigious Holly Solomon Gallery’s exhibition “57th between A & D”. In addition to Lew, the exhibition showcased works by other rising East Village art stars including Lew contemporaries Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Jeff Koons alongside the more established blue chip artists Andy Warhol, Alex Katz, and Roy Lichtenstein. The following year, Lew and Warhol were among the artists in “The East Village” exhibit curated by Richard Martin, editor-in-chief of “Arts Magazine”, at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Lew and Warhol also were in “Small Works by Major Thinkers” in 1986 at the Bess Cutler Gallery in New York.
The “Cafe Vered” show at Vered Gallery in East Hampton in 1995 included “Animal Crackers” by Lew along with works by Janet Fish, Audrey Flack, Red Grooms, Donald Lipski, Larry Rivers, Donald Sultan, Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann, among others.
In 1985 Sensory Evolution Gallery, one of the first, cutting-edge contemporary art galleries in New York City’s East Village, hosted Lew’s first one-person sculpted oil painting exhibition. The exhibition quickly sold out and established Lew’s career and reputation as one of the 1980s East Village art movement’s most sought after artists.
One-woman exhibitions at OK Harris, Bernice Steinbaum, Kravets/Wehby, and numerous other top galleries in New York City as well as solo shows at institutional venues including the Katonah Museum of Art, Sarah Lawrence College, and Overture during Art Basel Miami Beach followed her Sensory Evolution Gallery debut.
Lew has exhibited in numerous other prestigious venues, such as Jack Tilton and Vered galleries in New York City; the Light Gallery in Los Angeles and Hamilton Galleries in Santa Monica; and in museums here and abroad. In Manhattan, for example, her paintings have been included in exhibitions at the Visual Arts Museum, Parsons School of Design, SoHo Center for the Visual Arts, the Henry Street Settlement Museum, and the Alternative Museum.
Lew’s paintings have been included in traveling exhibitions of the Carnegie Mellon Museum and Guggenheim Museum in this country and in shows in Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, and Sofia, Bulgaria.
In Miami, Lew is included in the Martin Z. Margulies Collection, “recognized as one of the major collections of contemporary art in the world,” according to Newsweek critic Peter Plagens.
According to critic Peter Frank, “by appropriating two or three generations of imagery, from wartime cartoons to cold-war-era reading primers to the streamlined sci-fi fantasies of the space race, Lew seems to mark off the growth spurts of mid-20th Century America…Lew re-enacts the recent evolution of American visual culture without having to depict it. A child of our time, Leslie Lew has appropriated Pop Art itself.”
“We are delighted to have this opportunity to introduce yet another historically significant artist to our clientele,” said Virginia Miller. “Leslie Lew’s work is an absolute joy.”
Leslie Lew’s “American Memories
” will be on view and open to the public at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries, located at 169 Madeira Avenue in Coral Gables (Miami), from May 3rd through July 31st 2013. Gallery hours are 11am to 6pm Monday through Friday and by appointment on Saturdays and evenings. In addition to the exhibition’s opening reception on Friday May 3rd from 6 to 10pm, the gallery will host two additional receptions for the artist on Fridays June 7th and July 5th from 6 to 10pm in conjunction with the monthly first Friday Coral Gables Gallery Nights. For more information, call 305-444-4493 or visit the gallery web site, www.virginiamiller.com