Stanley Lewis finds a way to step aside and let the world become paint.
The artist Stanley Lewis draws and paints the landscapes closest to him, places where he works, teaches, and travels like nearby lakes and roadsides in Chautauqua, New York, or his backyard and studio window views in Leeds, Massachusetts.
We know how a handful of painters — Pollock, de Kooning, and company — wrested modernism from the Old World to create a new kind of art, one unmediated, enveloping, and completely frank in its making. Less well-known is the story of how another group of painters, a half-generation later, pursued with equal ardor but far less acclaim a different goal: figuration inflected by abstraction.
Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects is a long and narrow space, somewhere between a bowling alley and a railroad apartment, on the Lower East Side. It is within this rather confined space that Marshall Price, curator at the uptown National Academy of Art, installed eleven paintings by artists committed to working from observation. Chronologically, the artists span five decades (or generations), with Lois Dodd and Lennart Anderson, born respectively in 1927 and 1928, being the oldest. The youngest include Gideon Bok, Anna Hostvedt, Sangram Majumdar and Cindy Tower, with Bok and Tower born in the 1960s, and Hostevedt and Majumdar born in the 1970s. The other artists are Susanna Coffey, Rackstraw Downes, Stanley Lewis, Catherine Murphy, and Sylvia Plimack Mangold, who were born between 1938 and 1949. Together, these artists — a number of whom have been influential teachers — suggest that observational painting is a vigorous, various, and imaginative enterprise that continues to fly under the radar.