In the summer and fall of 2020, PAFA will present an exhibition of approximately 25 paintings by beloved Philadelphia artist Gilbert Lewis (b. 1945). Lewis is a longstanding fixture of the Philadelphia art community—as an art therapist, teacher, and clerk at a local art supply store (many have stories about his useful advice)—yet his work has had little exposure at Philadelphia museums.
PAFA’s exhibition will focus on one model—Tony—whom Lewis painted numerous times in the 1980s. The history of art in Philadelphia—especially PAFA—is essential to the study of figurative art in the United States. Lewis’ work represents an important queer perspective on this tradition that has yet to be fully recognized.
The Woodmere Museum of Art and the William Way LGBT Community Center are planning concurrent exhibitions of Lewis’ work so that Philadelphia can fully celebrate this artist who had such a meaningful impact on his community.