Thursday, January 20, 2011


  I have no idea what made me pull a painting off the wall this morning and google Abraham Levin, but I did. I'd bought the painting in 1989 from a street person for $2.00. It was during a period which i was painting over almost every painting I owned.  I had settled on a color- International Kohl Green- IKG. I painted over Oursler, Finley, Ireland, Winters and plenty more of my contemporaries. I never did more  than one of a particular artist. When I ran through my collection I turned to thrift stores and the street. Stretched canvas got IKG. Already framed works got NYC- New Yellow Color. Works from SF were SFF- a pinky San Francisco Flesh, etc. There were only a very few which remained UT- untouched. The Levin was one of those.
   The searched turned up one site- Galerie St. Etiene on 57th. This was the old school toney 57th st. bastion of the likes of Max Beckman, Kathe Kolowitz, Darger  AND A. Levin. A little bio popped up. "Bored and eventually disgusted by his mind-numbing job sewing "knee-pants" Levin started painting at the age of 57...." I'm positive I've used the same language when referring to my own career. In a matter of minutes i had a photo emailed off to Shewho and the wheels were in motion. Galerie St. Etiene opened in 1939 and it's still there. Old Abe Levin had a hot show right out of his self taught, working man, immigrant roots, and he was off. The NY Times loved him. His talent was recognized and the Garment Union gave him a $25 stipend so he could paint. I don't know how long he rode his success for....but not long.
   Modernism was rearing it's ugly head and devouring naive "folk art" lugs like A. Levin in big gulps. Years ago I  met the photographer John Albott in his tailor shop up town. Same thing. He had been Mrs. Roosevelt's favorite depression era photog. for a minute.... then vanished into obscurity. I love this kind of artist. Levin eventually had to beg for his job back in the garment industry, just to put food on the table. This painting is incredible and I can't wait to see more.


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