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Sol Schwartz 1931-2015
Please read Sol’s obituary in the New York Times
“I began drawing in my father’s hand laundry on the Lower East Side of New York City. He seemed to have an unlimited supply of shirt cardboards that I could use to draw on. I attended the High School of Music and Art and then studied at Brooklyn College with most of the New York School of Painting, i.e. Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Ad Reinhardt, Jimmy Ernst, et al. I also studied drawing with the great anatomist Robert Beverly Hale at the Art Students League. Here is where I sharpened my skills in drawing the figure. I have worked in oils, watercolor, lithography, etching and all drawing media. I set this aside for about 35 years to support my family as a teacher, general contractor and as the Director and Founder of Options, a non-profit educational and career counseling service that has sent thousands of young men and women into productive careers. I returned to drawing and painting when I retired in the Berkshires where I could be close to the music, theatre and art that I love.”
For over two decades, Mr. Schwartz has been drawing musicians, conductors, actors and dancers at the many cultural venues in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. He has an open invitation to capture the spirit and grace of the artists during performances.
His sketches and drawings can be viewed and purchased at galleries and museums throughout the Northeast region, as well as online at solschwartz.com. Mr. Schwartz resides in Sarasota, Florida, and Lenox, Massachusetts.
The spirit of music and movement are captured in the art of Sol Schwartz, whose vibrant, spontaneous drawings have reflected the beauty and excitement of music, theater, and dance, in the Berkshires and beyond, for more than a decade.
As the curtain rises and the lights go down, the energy and emotion of live performance provides a swell of inspiration for Schwartz’s work. Created on location from his place in the audience at Tanglewood Music Center, Shakespeare & Company, Barrington Stage Company, and Jacob’s Pillow, his artworks reflect the intensity and focus of his gifted subjects, providing a unique window into their experience.
“It happened by accident,” the artist said. “I used to make little sketches in the corners of my programs when I attended concerts.” Eventually, he began bringing a sketchbook along to work in, and over the years, has completed thousands of studies, including likenesses of such musical, dance, and theater superstars as Andre Previn, Itzak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Seiji Ozawa, Yo-Yo Ma, Katherine Dunham, Savion Glover, Mark Morris, Tina Packer, and many others. “The novelty of my work is that I do it while a performance is underway, sometimes in the pitch dark,” Schwartz notes. He prefers not to adjust or complete an artwork after the fact, and enjoys the sense of immediacy that is conveyed by drawing on site. Working in pencil, ball point pen, and Japanese sumi brush, he tries to convey “the spirit of the concert, that ineffable nature of a great performance.”