Gallery Spotlight: Florsheim & Lewis

As a component of the exhibition, A Chicken in Every Pot and Affordable Art in Every Home, group curated by Dr. Slipp’s Spring 2021 Museum Studies class, student were assigned two prints each. They researched the artworks and wrote catalogue entries and labels for adults and children. Sticking to a tight word count, students produced different kinds of writing for different audiences.

The texts below were authored by AUM student Russ Stovall

Airport | Albright-Knox

Richard Florsheim (American, 1916-1979)

Airport, 1965

Color Lithograph, 10 x 29.5 inches

Label for Adults – Richard Florsheim’s paintings often consist of abstract landscapes and vibrant colors. Artificial lights are prominently featured in his works as he believed that electrical lighting, although man-made, was part of nature and added a new dimension to what is customarily considered beautiful. Viewers of Airport (1965) can see how Florsheim used shapes and patterns to form an abstract cityscape and lights to depict the flight paths of aircraft arriving at or departing from the airport.

Label for Kids – Airport shows a city skyline with planes flying to and from the airport. Can you spot the airplanes? This picture was made using a process called lithography. This is just another way of saying that the artist drew the picture on a stone or metal plate before he printed it.

Catalogue entry  After attending the Chicago Latin School, Richard Aberle Florsheim moved to New York where he studied with the American scene painter, Aaron Bohrod. The following year, he briefly returned home to attend the University of Chicago but left again to continue his education through independent study in France, Italy, and the Near East from 1936-38. While in France, Florsheim worked under the tutelage of Émile Bernard and had his art featured in a Salon des Refusés exhibit.

In 1939, he returned to Chicago to take up lithography; however, this was short-lived as Florsheim enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942. After World War II, Florsheim resumed his artistic career in Chicago and went on to exhibit at several galleries, including the Milwaukee Art Institute and the Lubyer Galleries in New York.

Airport 1965 is one of over seventy-five Richard Florsheim works commissioned by the Associated American Artists.

Sources Consulted

Émile Bernard, Artnet.

Aaron Bohrod, Modernism in the New City: Chicago Artists, 1920-1950,

Richard Florsheim,

Richard Florsheim, Modernism in the New City: Chicago Artists, 1920-1950,

Thomas Lewis (American, 1940-2008)

Endings, 1974

Color Etching 37/100, 8.75 x 8.75 inches

Label for Adults – Thomas Lewis’s love of art drew him into activism. While sketching activists at a desegregation protest in 1963, he joined the protest and dedicated the rest of his life to peace and justice. Lewis’ activism became a prominent theme in works, such as Draft records are for Burning (1969) and Apocalypse Toward Revelations (1974). However, Endings is decidedly less politically-charged; the two-color etching depicts a young lady deep in thought as she clutches freshly picked flowers.

Label for Kids – Endings shows a girl holding flowers and thinking about something. What do you think she is thinking about? The artist used a process called etching to make this picture. That means that he used a sharp tool to gently scratch the picture on a metal plate before he printed it.

Catalogue entry  Thomas Lewis was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania in 1940. After graduating from Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore, MD, he honed his artistic talents at several art schools, including—the Maryland Institute of Art, the Pratt Center for Contemporary Art, and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence Italy. He also studied at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, and Bucknell Universities.

In addition to being an artist and author, Lewis was also an avid peace activist. One of the “Catonsville Nine,” Lewis famously burned draft cards to protest the Vietnam War and years later protested the Darfur genocide and the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Lewis’s work has been exhibited in numerous museums, including the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Endings is Thomas Lewis’ only work commissioned by the Associated American Artists and was printed by Lewis, himself.

Sources Consulted

Thomas Lewis, Art in Print,

Thomas Lewis,

Thomas Lewis,

Thomas Lewis,

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