Salisbury Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEIN Left to right: J. Lawrence Grim, Kathy O'Dea, and Leon C. and June W. Holt, PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEIN Left to right: J. Lawrence Grim, Kathy O'Dea, and Leon C. and June W. Holt, "Edgar S. Baum: For the Love of Painting," The Baum School of Art, Allentown.

Edgar Baum's sense of place

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN Focus Editor in Focus

Return to another era of the Lehigh Valley urban landscape with "Edgar S. Baum: For the Love of Painting," through March 15, David E. Rodale Gallery, The Baum School of Art, 510 Linden St., Allentown.

Edgar Baum had the alacrity to see what many of us did not. And so, narrow streets, parked cars and brick buildings recall San Francisco, New England, or Paris, France, not Allentown and Bethlehem.

Baum saw beyond, into and behind what we see in our every-day travails, er, travels in the workaday world of the Lehigh Valley.

"South Tenth Street" is under leaden Lehigh Valley skies, late afternoon or early morning, a car parked curbside like a sleeping pup in long shadows as autumnal leaves indicate an early snow.

"Lawrence Street" is pre-Martin Luther King Boulevard. There is history here, a sense of place and days gone by.

"Wyoming Street" could be a view of Cape Cod, New Hope or Bermuda.

"The Eighth Street Bridge" is when people lived in homes under it and not the homeless.

"Fifth and Chew Streets" glistens and glows under a bright blue sky. It could be France.

Edgar Baum saw Allentown as perhaps no other -- as perhaps we should, or will.

"He always asked me to introduce him as the painter, not the doctor," said Rudy Ackerman, Baum School Director of Exhibitions and Collections, at exhibitions's Feb.20 opening reception.

"He was a great friend of mine. We even went fishing together. And when I came back, my sides were hurting from laughing. He was the funniest man I ever met," Ackerman said.

The reception honored The Holt Foundation. "They made a substantial gift to our trust fund," Ackerman said of June W. and Leon C. Holt, who were in attendance.

Also at the reception were J. Lawrence Grim and Kathy O'Dea, sponsors of the Edgar Baum exhibition.