An Artist Calls on Class Notes
- by Matthew Brodsky
Jacques Levy, W’59, normally does not take a break from his work.
“I work all the time,” he says.
But he happened across the “Portrait of Our Artists” article from the winter 2013 issue of Wharton Magazine, and he was tickled enough to put down his paintbrush and grab his keyboard to write an email to his class correspondent, Bart A. Barre, W’59. He knew Bart from school, and knew of him because Levy admits to checking his Class Notes in almost every issue of Wharton Magazine. Yet in five decades since graduation, Levy had never sent in any sort of note about himself—until now.
Levy says he enjoyed an “ironic pleasure” in sending the note to Barre about the article, writing to his classmate, “I guess I didn’t make the cut.”
Barre then forwarded the note to us at the magazine, and we will be publishing the Class Note about Levy in the upcoming summer 2013 magazine.
The long and short of the Class Note is that Levy recently released his entire body of work—more than 2,000 paintings and drawings—for all the world to see at http://www.jacqueslevy.com.
He had considered creating such a website for years, but his work usually got in the way. One day, as he explains it, “such a strong feeling” overcame him that he learned how to build a website and uploaded his entire collection to it. It was a big step for someone who never spent any time publicizing his art or cultivating the media.
“I don’t really enjoy being a publicity hound,” he says.
His three children, particularly his son Abe, always encouraged him to get his work out into the world. Abe, a filmmaker, interviewed him for Shea Magazine, and the article is a touching way to learn more about Levy’s inspirations and goings-on for the past 50 years. (Another great source for Levy’s motivations and background is the “How This Work Originated and Developed” page on his website.)
Levy gave me a recap of his life since graduation in about 15 minutes. After graduation, he joined the Navy, where he served until 1962. His homeport then was San Francisco, so he decided to start a life there. He interviewed with a half-dozen Wall Street-type firms, got job offers at all and took a position with a local stock trading firm. He “washed out” in two years though.
“I left that world altogether,” he says.
He was lost, until he enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute for a master’s degree in fine art.
“I knew I had found the right place,” he says. “Because I felt happy.”
I admit that recapping five decades of a person’s life in the space of a few dozen words doesn’t do him justice. So I hope to be able to speak with Levy again, and write more about him, in the near future. In the meantime, be sure to view his work.
Of it, Levy says: “My work has been the source of my fulfillment.”