PHOTO: Herbert Mitgang



Monday, January 18, 2010

"Excuse me, are you David Levine?"

I was introduced to the work of David Levine during my first year at the School of Visual Arts and was immediately taken by the wonderful lines of his caricatures and the soft, eloquent tones of his watercolors.  I scoured the library for as much as I could on this artist.  I found his book, “The Arts of David Levine” in a used bookstore and spent a good portion of my very limited budget to purchase it.  

A couple years later I attended one of David’s openings at the Forum Gallery where I very nervously shook his hand and told him how much his paintings meant to me.  As luck would have it, he passed me the following day on Henry Street in Brooklyn. Recognizing him I asked, "Excuse me, are you David Levine?" I told him I had been at his opening and reiterated my admiration for his work.  During our very brief conversation it came up that I was a painter.  I had recently moved to Boston and was not feeling particularly confident in my work at that time.  He very graciously offered to look at some of my paintings and provide some feedback.  “Would that help?” he asked.  I, of course, was thrilled at the prospect of receiving a critique from the man whose work I held in such high regard.  I quickly jotted down his mailing address and thanked him for his time.  The following week I mailed a few drawings and small watercolor paintings to David.  A few weeks later I received a letter filled with straightforward, sincere criticism and advice which I continue to refer to this day.  I will forever hold a place in my heart for this generous artist and teacher who so kindly took the time to help a stranger. 

e. halvorsen

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