ARTWORK OF BYRON L. LEVY
Welcome to our brand new website--very much of a work in progress.
Our grandfather--Gramps--was a committed artist throughout his life. He had art shows through the decades and eagerly displayed his work in museums and art contests. While he sold his work from time to time, he was just as inclined to give it away, especially to friends, relatives, and folks he knew over his lifetime in New Orleans. Mainly, though, he was obsessively driven to paint and sketch because he loved it (he had made his living in business), setting aside what he completed to begin something new.
Since Gramps died, our Dad has been assembling many decades of work Gramps set aside. Dad is now just starting to sort through it. He's found well over 3,000 paintings and sketches, including a wealth of personal notebooks and drawings. So much of this is amazing! Now, as adults, we're getting to know Gramps in fresh and invigorating ways as we see paintings, sketches, and writings that are brand new to us. And as the web-savvy younger generation, we are contributing to the family effort of the sorting-through by setting up this website. Visitors here will get to know our refreshingly original grandfather through the assorted and sundry art pieces we'll be posting.
If you are just dropping in but are intrigued, do give us your email and we'll let you know as this website gets polished. Over time, we hope to find good homes for a lot of his art. Most immediately, though, we are trying to get our bearings. What's here is brand new, and just a beginning . . .
Sweet Emma at Preservation Hall. This is one of Dad's favorites -- one of Gramps's Preservation Hall Jazz paintings, most of which are done on newsprint or (as here) some sort of placard or poster. Gramps did an extended series like this. He used to sketch at Preservation Hall almost every weekend in the early 1960s, when Preservation Hall was fairly new, until one weekend they told him that he was welcome to listen, but no longer to draw. They must have felt threatened by his growing collection of unique paintings that they could not control? Gramps took it in stride and moved on to other things, but he never entirely abandoned jazz subjects which he continued to find elsewhere. This painting of Sweet Emma was certainly one of Gramps's favorites, too, since he had it hanging up at home, for about forty years in New Orleans. Then, when he and Coco moved to Baton Rouge after Katrina, he still found a place for it: this time it ended up hanging in their bathroom. That's where it is now--even though Gramps is gone, Coco feels it belongs in the bathroom where Gramps contentedly put it over ten years ago!