Virginia Miller

Virginia Miller, Marty Margulies, and Leslie Lew with Liz Margulies of Gallery Girls in background

American Memories

Leslie Lew

Dear Art Enthusiasts,

What a wonderful opening we had on May 3rd, thanks to all of you who attended. Coral Gables TV was here to interview Leslie Lew: Watch Interview Now >>

For most of us, Leslie Lew’s paintings bring back many happy memories of childhood. Even if you grew up in another country, you will recognize many of these characters.

Lew’s sculpted paintings of the covers of classic comic books, their wacky characters and superheroes, along with vintage reading primers, popular cereals, Animal Crackers, a New York newsstand and botanica, and playing cards, follow the American Pop Art tradition of using popular culture as subject matter.

Fans of comic books will find some familiar covers: Superman Classic No. 1, Spiderman, Batman No. 27, Batman and Robin, Dagwood and Blondie, Wonder Woman, Mighty Mouse, Lil Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Popeye, Curious George, Felix, Nancy & Sluggo, The Little Mermaid, and Snow White.

I’m delighted to announce that Leslie Lew also will attend our opening from 6-10 p.m. Friday, June 7th. Come meet an icon from the mid-1980's East Village, who hung out and exhibited with Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring.

Best regards,

Virginia Miller


‘American Memories’ by Renowned American Neo-Pop Artist Leslie Lew at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries in Coral Gables

Virginia Miller

'American Memories' includes 57 paintings and sculptures dating to 1984

Mickey Mouse, Popeye, Wonder Woman, Animal Crackers and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes are some of the subjects of works in “American Memories,” a one-person exhibition of paintings and sculpture by Leslie Lew, with a reception for the artist from 6-10 p.m. Friday, June7th at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries.

“Leslie is a contemporary, neo-Pop version of Norman Rockwell,” said ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries’ owner and director Virginia Miller.

“I’m grabbing memories,” says the artist. “Some of these are starting to fade.”

Featuring some of America’s most iconic images, Leslie Lew offers a nostalgic trip back to childhoods ranging from the 1930s to 1970s. Permission from The Walt Disney Company, DC Comics, and the Kellogg Company allows her to re-create comic book covers of America’s most beloved childhood heroes along with perennially favorite breakfast cereals.

“When faced with the legendary things and characters of our youth, rendered with unrestrained enthusiasm, it’s hard not to smile, to remember the pleasure of eating Animal Crackers, toting the box on its little white string; to feel a little girl’s aspiration to be Wonder Woman, and to be transported by cartoon lives—so familiar and yet so unlike our own,” noted Kathy Greenwood, a curator for Albany, NY International Airport’s Art & Culture Programs.
Virginia Miller

Childhood primers are a favorite subject

Contributing to the impact of her paintings is the artist’s special technique, which she calls “sculpted oil,” paintings on canvas in high relief to create a three-dimensional effect.

After earning her BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1982, Lew was one of a dozen artists selected to participate in a Whitney Museum studio program. She became a leading artist in New York’s East Village Art Movement, where she was friends with Jean-Michel Basquiat, who introduced her to Andy Warhol at her first opening in New York.

Lew lived and worked in a large Gramercy Park loft just above Julian Schnabel’s. Other well-known artists in the group included Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Kenny Scharf, and Keith Haring.

“Keith, Jean-Michel and Andy did a show of matchboxes in a pop-up gallery on 6th Street with me and other artists,” she recalls. “I did a painting of the opening, and I put Andy in the corner of it with his little Brownie camera. Andy loved young artists—he was always looking for the next new thing. He helped me a lot, introducing me to all sorts of people. We hung out together.

“I did my version of Andy’s silkscreen, 'Moon Explorer,' and he thought it was a hoot. He asked me to do a trade with him—my ‘Moon Explorer’ for one of his ‘Marilyns.’ Then he went into the hospital for a gall bladder operation and he died. I helped to archive all of his work for the foundation.”

Virginia Miller

Earliest painting is 'La Gran Botanica,' 1984, on right

Today Lew’s painting of “Moon Explorer” is owned—appropriately—by U.S. astronaut Robert C. “Woody” Spring. Her works are included in dozens of major collections, including those of Si Newhouse, the Tisch Family, Conde Nast, MCA Records, Sylvia Miles and Cyndi Lauper in New York; the Sainsbury Collection in London; and the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

“My first painting of ‘Animal Crackers’ is in the lobby where children are admitted to the Mayo Clinic,” she said.

Lew has participated with the superstars of the contemporary art world in a number of other exhibitions. To cite only three:

In 1985 the Holly Solomon Gallery exhibition “57th between A & D” included works by Andy Warhol, Alex Katz, and Roy Lichtenstein with East Village artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Leslie Lew. The following year Lew and Warhol were among the artists in “The East Village” exhibit curated by Richard Martin, editor-in-chief of “Arts Magazine”, at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Lew and Warhol also were in “Small Works by Major Thinkers” in 1986 at the Bess Cutler Gallery in New York.

The “Cafe Vered” show at Vered Gallery in East Hampton in 1995 included “Animal Crackers” by Lew along with works by Janet Fish, Audrey Flack, Red Grooms, Donald Lipski, Larry Rivers, Donald Sultan, Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann, among others.

Virginia Miller

War,' on left, was shown in several museums

Lew has exhibited in numerous other prestigious venues, such as Jack Tilton and OK Harris galleries in New York City; the Light Gallery in Los Angeles and Hamilton Galleries in Santa Monica; and in a number of museums here and abroad. In Manhattan, for example, her paintings have been included in exhibitions at the Visual Arts Museum, Parsons School of Design, SoHo Center for the Visual Arts, the Henry Street Settlement Museum, and the Alternative Museum. Lew’s paintings have been included in travelling exhibitions of the Carnegie Mellon Museum and Guggenheim Museum in this country and in shows in Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, and Sofia, Bulgaria.

In Miami, Lew is included in the Martin Z. Margulies Collection, “recognized as one of the major collections of contemporary art in the world,” according to Newsweek critic Peter Plagens.

According to critic Peter Frank, “by appropriating two or three generations of imagery, from wartime cartoons to cold-war-era reading primers to the streamlined sci-fi fantasies of the space race, Lew seems to mark off the growth spurts of mid-20th Century America...Lew re-enacts the recent evolution of American visual culture without having to depict it. A child of our time, Leslie Lew has appropriated Pop Art itself.”

Virginia Miller

'American Memories' includes 57 paintings and sculptures dating to 1984

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to introduce yet another historically significant artist to our clientele,” said Virginia Miller. “Leslie Lew’s work is an absolute joy.”

“American Memories” will be exhibited at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries from May 3rd through July 2013. Along with our opening reception on Friday, June 7th, an additional reception for this exhibition will be held from 6 to 10 pm on Friday, July 5th.

Gallery hours are 11-6 Monday through Friday and by appointment on Saturdays and evenings. For more information, call 305-444-4493 or visit the gallery web site,

A child of our time, Leslie Lew has appropriated Pop Art itself.
Peter Frank, Critic and Curator
Pasadena Museum of Art

Lew’s subjects are whimsical, nostalgic snapshots of America’s past.
Magdalin Leonardo
Inside Chappaqua Magazine

An energetic, exuberant treatment that is visually effective.
Phyllis Braff, Critic
The New York Times