- Recording the charm and magnetism in every-day images is East Hampton painter, former Ross School teacher, Christina Schlesinger's great gift.
Whimsical compositions with quirky mannerisms of animals and wildlife she has come across embody her newest show "Critters" at the Romany Kramoris Gallery
. There will be an opening exhibition reception on Saturday, Aug. 9, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Eclectic in her influences, from Chinese to American to Spanish painters, Schlesinger says she has a tendency to draw and paint what's around her. "I realized that I have a collection of paintings of animals. They include my cats, sheep studies, and fish. There's a painting of a deer and one of a dog, not from life, but which were influenced by 17th century Spanish painter Diego Velázquez."
Also in the show are semi-serious, formal portraits of stuffed animals belonging to daughter Chun Schlesinger-Fried (11-years-old), which Chun tired of and abandoned, such as Bunny and Monkey. "I felt badly for them," says Schlesinger. "As Chun moved on they seemed so sad, and I guess I wanted to commemorate them." In "Jonah at the Table," which shows a cat staring wide-eyed at two wooden toy animals, Schlesinger combines real and toy animals. "They are all real to me," she says. "This is the only painting that combines both."
"Cat In The Dunes" by Christina Schlesinger.
From growing up in Cambridge, MA, with mother, artist Marion Cannon Schlesinger, and father, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., she came to East Hampton in 1996 to work at The Ross School teaching cultural history, and stayed for nine years. She moved to her house in East Hampton in 2001, and built her studio the next year.
"I would like the viewer to be moved," says Schlesinger, "and amused, and feel the love that I feel for these creatures."
Pet cats Jake and Sammy are no longer the only animals in her household. In June Schlesinger with her daughter adopted a shelter mixed-Lab puppy they named Lucie.
"I've just begun making sketches and watercolors of Lucie so eventually I'll be adding dogs to my repertory," says Schlesinger.
Fifth-generation painter on her mother's side, Schlesinger is a descendant of an itinerant portrait painter in New England. After graduating from Harvard she became a community mural painter in Los Angeles and Venice, CA, commissioned to do large scale public art works, and helped found the Social Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) with Judy Baca.
Schlesinger has never been satisfied to work only in one medium. Besides oil and acrylic, she works in watercolors, encaustics, and ceramic glazed tiles.
"But for "Critters" I worked only in oil on panel or canvas," says Schlesinger. "These are painted rather freely, from life, with immediacy, and that can only be done in either oil painting or watercolor."