With humor and deep affection for the products and popular iconography of the past, Leslie Lew creates extravagant interpretations of comic book heroes, food packaging and board games. Her father was an advertising executive who developed, among other enduring ad campaigns, Sugar Smacks and its Smackin Brothers duo, who appear larger than life here in Lew’s painting.
In this tribute to her father and memories of childhood, we see the thickly sculpted, painted surface that has become the artist’s signature method. Images that we perhaps associate with mass-production are enlivened by highly textured brushstrokes and expansive scale. They are at once art and artifice – delighting in the seductive visual dynamics of commercialization while also imbued with a personal, interpretive quality that is distinctly anti-cynical.
When faced with the legendary things and characters of our youth, rendered with unrestrained enthusiasm, it’s hard not to smile, to remember the pleasure of eating animal crackers, toting the box on its little white string; to feel a little girl’s aspiration to be Wonder Woman, and to be transported by cartoon lives – so familiar and yet so unlike our own.
Written by: Kathy Greenwood
Curatorial Assistant | Capital Regions Museums