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Artists Among Us: Lewis Zacks

Originally Posted: January 08, 2010


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"Montauk Relic" - Oil, 30" x 40", 2009. (All images courtesy of artist)

Continuing with our artist profiles of artists both living and working in the Hamptons, our next artist is Lewis Zacks, who lives in East Hampton.

Artist Lewis Zacks in his East Hampton studio. (Eileen Casey)


East Hampton - Artist Lewis Zacks was born and raised in Taunton, MA. He received his commerical art diploma at Vesper George School of Art in Boston, and was a foot solider and graphic artist in the U.S. Army during the Korean War from 1951 to 1953. He studied etching and lithography at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and then relocated to New York City. Over the years Zacks continued his studies at Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design and the National Academy, all in New York City.

In the mid-1960s, and after a dozen years as a freelance designer and illustator for ad agencies and publishers, Zacks started his own company, Zacks and Perrier, Inc., which produced films, videos and live stage productions and conventions for such clients as IBM, ATT, NBC, Time, Inc., and BMW among others.

Some highlights from this undertaking included exhibitions at the 1988 World's Fair in Vancouver, Canada, The United States Exhibit at the 1980 Paris Air Show, "The Boy From Mars" - a wide-screen 35mm film at NASA's Spaceport in Florida, "Innovations" - a video wall at the IBM Gallery of Arts and Science in New York City, "Art Cars" - a video wall at the BMW showroom in NYC, which showed several prominent artists including Warhol, Calder, Lichenstein, Stella and Rauschenberg painting original work on automobiles.

"Apollo" - Oil, 30" x 24", 2006.

Among the many awards and recognition Zacks has received during his career exhibiting in both solo and group art exhibitions are the Chautauqua Juried Show, Guild Hall Honorable Mention, Parrish Art Museum, 37th Annual Juried Show, Salamagundi Juried Show, and the Silvermine Print Annual Invitational.

Zacks states, "My love of history has inspired me to focus on the disappearing landscape of Eastern Long Island - old farm buildings, fishing boats, colonial cottages, mid-century movie theaters, ice cream parlors, luncheonettes, and the remnants of their signs. I also like to scour the lower east side of Manhattan for the few remaining artifacts of businesses long gone from the urban landscape of New York. Studying these relics gives me great pleasure, and there's satisfaction in capturing them on canvas, so they won't fade entirely from our memories."

"Farmers Market" - Oil, 9" x 12", 2009.

Continuing, Zacks states "I can spend hours isolating these subjects and creating a nostalgic mood, paying homage to the American masters of the early 20th Century, especially Edward Hopper, Ralston Crawford, Georgia O'Keefe and Charles Seeler. In time, I find the heart of each subject. The simpler I can make the final canvas, the more successful it is."

When did you start making art and what medium(s) do you consider to be your roots in art?

Lewis Zacks: My life as an artist began very early, back in grade school, I had an art teacher in the eighth grade in Taunton, MA, who saw the gift I had. She took me on her own time to the Rhode Island School of Design on Saturday mornings to drawing classes with all adults, because she thought I had a chance to move ahead. She also years later helped me to get a full scholarship to art school in Boston. At that time I was taking all commercial courses. But being in school at the Museum of Fine Arts I began to study the works of Hopper, Sargent, Homer, Monet and Velazquez. New England was the home base of realism and landscape art at that time.

"Sag Movie" - Solar Print Etching, 16" x 20", 2004.


What is it about the Hamptons that brought you here and enticed you to stay, work, and pursue your art here as opposed to some place else?

LZ: Years later, after two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, I returned to the States and back to school on the GI Bill, after a year I moved to New York to seek a career in commercial art. I went to the League and Pratt to continue my new love of printmaking. At the same time, because of my love of Cape Cod I tried to find a place like it, so I moved with my wife, Fran Castan, to a beach house in Amagansett. That was 1972.

"Williams Bar-B-Que" - Oil, 30" x 40", 2005.


How do you support yourself as an artist?

LZ: During my business life in NYC I had been quite successful as an illustrator, and from 1972 until 1992 I had a wonderful run with a multi-media film and production company called Zacks & Perrier. So my new retired life now as a painter and printmaker has been taken care of by my past business life. I do show my work and I do sell, but it is all a good feeling not a living.

"Lifeboat" - Oil, 16" x 20", 2002.

Why live and work in the Hamptons as opposed to elsewhere?

LZ: As I have said, I am still a New Englander at heart and the Hamptons is the closest in feeling, and the art community here is so wonderful. I have so many terrific artist friends, and my wife, Fran, who is a poet has her own group of writers and poets. We both enjoy the life out here, but being close to the City has its pluses. The art, music and theater so near makes the soul feel fulfilled.

What local environmental or historical aspects of the Hamptons do you relate to that may be reflected in your medium?

LZ: My first years of painting here were spent trying to show the history of the disappearing landscape. The old barns and fading images of signs. Montauk boats, The Lobster Roll, any old sign you can think off. I must have painted dozens of them. It is all going away so fast. My paintings and drawings are helping to record the history.

"Lobster Roll" - Oil, 30" x 40", 2009.


What artists do you feel have influenced you and your work?

LZ: Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, Charles Sheeler, John Singer Sargent, Andrew Wyeth, and locally John and Clare Romano and Dan Welden, my printmaking connection.

"3 Roses Bar" - Oil, 18" x 24", 2003.

What advice would you give an emerging artist?

LZ: Follow your dream. It can only happen if you keep plugging away.

What gives you an edge (if any)?

LZ: I am not sure if it is an edge, but I follow the subject matters that interests me, and then I do many studies of what I see, and then I try to move things around, keeping the subject, but maybe adjusting colors and shadows to make the image more pleasing as a composition or a statement.

What are you working on now, and are you involved in any upcoming shows or exhibitions?

LZ: I have been doing a number of sign paintings, from the lower east side of NYC and out here on the East End. I have had a number of shows of this work, along with my continuing love of the barns and landscape of here [East Hampton] to Montauk. I have been showing at the Nabi Gallery in NYC and with Arlene Bujese here in East Hampton until it closed. I am involved right now with a collective group showing at Hampton Road Gallery in Southampton, which is planning to continue through this year.

 • To view more of Lewis Zack's work, visit the following websites at www.lewiszacks.com, or
www.nabigallery.com, or email at lewzacks@optonline.net.


"White Cup" - Oil, 22" x 28", 1999.




Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.




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Guest (Dee Ito) from New York City says::
The paintings look great! What a terrific interview! It sounds as if your journey was logical and planned although I'm sure it felt more random. We've loved watching your progress. The show at Nabi was beautiful. We're so happy for you. xxx dee and marshall
Feb 1, 2010 6:57 pm

Guest (Vay David) from East Hampton says::
Awesome!
Feb 1, 2010 10:45 am

 

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