Lehman on his own terms at the Baum School of Art
Two sides of Earl W. Lehman’s palette are on display at the David E. Rodale and Rodale Family Galleries at the Baum School of Art, 510 W. Linden St., Allentown, in “Abstraction and Nature in Lehman’s Terms,” an exhibit of his representational landscapes and abstract acrylics.
After four years of service in the Army, Lehman attended art school on the GI Bill. The Kutztown University graduate finds the rivers, fields and woods of the Pennsylvania countryside favorite subjects for his canvasses. With names like “Elk Run,” “Onion Snow” and “Pine Creek,” the quiet, graceful scenes inspire feelings of tranquil connection with the rural subjects he found in Susquehanna County and Wellsboro, Tioga County. Lehman paints on-site and from photographs.
Lehman’s impressionistic landscapes, which are popular with collectors, can also touch lives, as illustrated by his conversation with Margaret Campbell during the July 14 opening reception for the exhibition that concludes Aug. 11. Campbell, accompanied by artist Femi Johnson, told Lehman that she treasures the small landscape she had purchased from him several years ago. Campbell said the simple painting of a path on a hill helps her stay focused. During “moments of confusion or doubt,” she would look at it and say to herself, “Peggy, just stay on that path.”
Lehman’s abstract imagery seems to be a logical progression from his representational work. These are composed of bold blocks of color that are assembled mosaic-like. The non-objective images he creates resemble landscapes.
“Your Land, My Land, It’s Only Fracking,” a large acrylic on board, is “an aerial view of the earth with some water and land. “It’s what we do to the earth. We just cut it up and rearrange it in what we think is a good way, which is probably not,” according to Lehman. Because the work is of geometric shapes and swatches of color, it can also be interpreted as a subterranean view of the damage that may be caused by hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
Lehman also experiments with mixed media. When he was just out of college and working as a carpenter on a friend’s house, Lehman was invited in for a drink. He related that his friend said to him, “This is a whiskey bottle from the daughter that we lost. She died young. We had this whiskey to toast her birth and all. This is the last of it. I think we should finish this.” Afterward, seeing that the bottle was old, Lehman asked for the label. His friend replied, “Sure.” Lehman continued, “I peeled it off, took the bottle, took them off, and that is the first collage I made.”
Several abstract mixed media pieces are included in the exhibit, including “Going Through the Motions” (8 in. x 4 ½ in., paper, paint, duct tape), shapes and textures with contrasting reds, oranges and grays.
Having been a Preparator of Exhibitions at Wilkes University for 15 years, as well as an educator and member of community organizations, Lehman is artist in residence with “Arts Alive” in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The award-winning artist provides painting instruction and inspiration for middle school and high school students.
When not engaged in painting, Lehman also writes poetry.
Lehman lives and works out of his studio in Jessup, Lackawanna County. His other studio, which he describes as “two glass walls looking into the woods” in Susquehanna County, is a work in progress.
Baum School of Art gallery hours: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday - Thursday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday. Closed Saturday and Sunday. Information: baumschool.org, 610-433-0032