Barbara Leventhal-Stern (Deceased)
Visual Artist: Painter, Print Maker
Barbara Leventhal-Stern was born in Springfield, Ohio in 1948. Her formal art education began in St. Louis, Missouri at Washington University School of Fine Art. It was in their gallery that she first saw the paintings of Max Beckman, who had taught there after leaving Germany. In the Art School Library she found a collection of books on German Expressionism, and she immediately fell in love with their wood cut prints.
After two years, Barbara left St. Louis and enrolled in The Boston Museum School where she was free to spend hours in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, next door. In Boston, she concentrated on Painting and Etching. She then finished her B.F.A. in London through a joint program with Tufts University and studied Printing at the London Polytech. During this time, she lived in Cambridge, England and taught drawing for the Workers’ Educations Association.
Eventually returning to the U.S., Barbara joined a community of artists situated on what once was a chicken farm in New Haven, Connecticut. After the chickens died off, the place was wistfully named, “Bittersweet Farm” and was converted into artist studios, complete with bucolic goats and organic gardens. During the four years that she lived at this commune, she studied figure drawing and painting with Dutch Artist, Roger Van Damme.
In 1978, Barbara moved to Southern California and began a Master’s Degree in Painting, at the Claremont Graduate School of Art. However, she did not finish her graduate degree until 1985, at San Jose State University where she studied with Sam Richardson and Geoff Bowman. Since then, she worked in her own studio in Palo Alto, California making paintings, drawings, and prints, designing and cutting all of her own woodblocks and then publishing print editions through Kala Institute in Berkley, California. To produce her small editions of etching, she worked collaboratively with Master Printer, Davis Kelso at his Made-in-California Studio.
Barbara’s work was essentially narrative and there was always a story at the core of what she did. She usually worked in a series that allowed her to process subjects that both interested and troubled her over time.
During the last years of her life, Barbara worked on a series of paintings about two specific communities of people; Eastern European Jews before the Holocaust and world circus performers. As wildly different as these themes seem to be, they were linked together in her mind. Both of these people lived on the edge of life and walked a tightrope, upon which they tried to keep their precarious balance, for better or worse.