Exhibition will be on display from August 1 – September 21, 2019
Opening Reception: Thursday, August 1, 5 – 7 pm
A tour led by Lester’s daughter Tanya Schwartz-Roeper will begin at 6 pm exploring the exhibition. Reception is free admission and open to the public. Cash bar and snacks available.
Lester O. Schwartz: A Retrospective
An exhibition of work by Lester O. Schwartz that spans his 8-decade career as a painter and sculptor
Artist Statement by daughter, Tanya Schwartz-Roeper
More than 80 paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs and memorabilia come together to trace the eight-decade long career of Lester O. Schwartz. This exhibit reflects the chronology of Schwartz’s life as he moved from his birthplace of Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Chicago, to traveling the world, and finally settling in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1944 as artist-in-residence at Ripon College. The exhibit begins with Schwartz’s childhood, continues through young adulthood, his career at Ripon College, the years following the untimely death of his wife and how he found his strength and energy to cope with the loss through the pursuit of art, and the last decade of his life after his stroke. Born in Manitowoc, Wisconsin in 1912 to Russian-Jewish immigrants and educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Schwartz was part of a flourishing art community in the 1930’s. Schwartz’s work evolved over time and this exhibit showcases his innovative exploration and experimentation over a range of media throughout his lifetime.
Lester O. Schwartz studied art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Imperial Art School in Tokyo, the Colarossi Academy in Paris, and the American Academy in Rome. He spent two years of study and travel around the world as the winner of the Edward L. Ryerson Traveling Fellowship in the late 1930’s. While a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Schwartz worked for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in both Wisconsin and Illinois as a commissioned artist creating murals, lithographs and paintings. In the 1940s he served in the United States Army at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri where he was assigned the task of creating paintings for the chapel. Schwartz worked briefly as an art instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee. In 1944 Schwartz founded the art department at Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin and served as Artist in Residence and professor until his retirement in 1977.
In 1991 Schwartz turned his Green Lake, Wisconsin home and land into an art gallery and sculpture garden open to the public during the summer. He used the terrain as a living canvas upon which he created and placed his steel sculptures. His winters were spent traveling and painting all over the world including Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Mediterranean locales.
After suffering a debilitating stroke in 1996, Schwartz’s daughter, Tanya, assisted her father in maintaining the art gallery and leading tours until his death in 2006 at the age of 93. Recipient of numerous awards in the 1930’s-1960’s, his work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum in New York, the Carnegie in Pittsburg, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Salon d’Automne in Paris. His paintings have been included in many one-man and group shows and in public and private collections around the world.