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with essay by Dr. María Eugenia Rabadán Villalpando, page 57

Bentley Gallery Exhibition August 18 - October 9, 2021

BENTLEY GALLERY | 215 East Grant Street Phoenix, AZ 85004 | 480-946-6060 |



SBR 13 graphite and acrylic on linen 55 x 72 inches 2016 3


THE STORY Malcolm and Renee I went to dinner at Malcolm and Renee's. It was a gathering in celebration of the visit of David Friesen, a great friend and a very well known and brilliant jazz bassist. He's recently had a beautiful journey of discovery to the birthplace of his family in Russia. He had been treated as an honored guest by the city that once made life for Jews impossible and deadly. It was a visit and journey of revelation for him, culminating in a performance by the young students in the towns public school. Their English class sings their rendition of "Yellow Submarine" to him. What a joyous moment for all. And as old friends do, we all began to tell stories. Renee was prompted to tell us an extraordinary story about her own background. It was March 25, 1911 in the Greenwich Village section of New York City. There is a building on Greene Street. On the eighth, ninth and 10th floors there is a company called the Triangle Shirtwaist company. They manufacture a very commonly used article of clothing for young women, the shirtwaist. It is late in the afternoon. A fire breaks out. There is an explosive and rapid evolution of flames. Panic erupts. The workers, mostly very young immigrant women, attempt to flee. The elevators are overburdened and shortly thereafter fail. The single fire escape collapses under the weight of so many people attempting to save themselves. There's only one door for exit available and it is quickly overrun. All are quickly being overcome with smoke and flames. There's virtually no escape. The firefighters arrive but the water power only allows water to rise to the sixth floor, well below the fire itself. 5

Of those who are not directly overcome by flames and smoke, horrible decisions must be made. Some begin to hold hands and jump singly and severally from nine floors above to the pavement below, where instantaneous mortality awaits them. It is the worst fire disaster in New York City until September 11th, 2001. More than 140 people perish, nearly all young immigrant women. 21-year-old Sarah Brodsky is among those who succumbs to the flames. As reported in the New York Times on the following day, a Lieutenant Sullivan had identified her remains. He removes a watch and a ring from Sarah's burnt hands. He seeks out and gives them to her fiancé, Israel Braloff. They were to have been married five weeks from the day of the fire. He collapses in stunned grief. Wounds heal, even the deepest. And time passes. And Israel meets Jenny. They fall in love and marry. As part of their betrothal, Jenny had received Sarah's ring. It is a way of having Sarah's life remain a meaningful part of his story. And Jenny is accepting of this. They have a child. Terribly, as is the case in the early 20th century, life and health remain precarious, even for the very young. Jenny falls ill and succumbs to tuberculosis. Once again, Israel must heal his wounds. Israel and Jenny have had a son. And life must go on. Israel is still a handsome young man. Dapper, with a somewhat uncanny resemblance to Fred Astaire. He eventually regains his emotional strength and meets a lovely young woman named Rose. They bond. They marry and have children. And she is now the next recipient of Sarah Brodsky's ring. Many many years pass and the ring is passed to Rose's daughter, Bertha, and then to her daughter, my friend Renee.


Renee asks us if we would like to see this ring. She goes to her bedroom, opens her jewelry box, and retrieves this mythical object. She returns to us, and she is now wearing it on her left fourth finger. It is quite small. The silver is dull gray. It carries a small rough cut yellow diamond. And the moment is overwhelming. I have seen a very indistinct photo of Sarah Brodsky. I have seen a photograph of Jenny's gravestone. I have seen multiple photographs of Israel, Renée's grandfather. I have seen a photo of Israel and Renee's grandmother Rose in Central Park, from 1919. I have held the ring. Sarah Brodsky's Ring. Rick Levinson 2016



SBR (WOP Diptych) mixed media 15 x 12 inches (each) 2021 9




Black Spinner mixed media 13 x 10 x 5 inches 2021 13




SBR 7 graphite and acrylic on linen 63 x 36 inches 2018 17

SBR 3 graphite, acrylic on linen, and laser wood cut (in collaboration with Jeff Weiss) 54 x 36 inches 2019 18

SBR 2 graphite and acrylic on linen 57 x 72 inches 2016 19


Sarah Brodsky's City acrylic and paper on wire mesh 121.25 x 145 x 8 inches 2021 21




SBR 8 graphite and acrylic on linen 55 x 36 inches 2021 25



SBR 10 graphite and acrylic on linen 54 x 85 x 1 inches 2018 28



SBR Sculpture 2 wood, wire, and paint 90 x 12 x 12 inches 2005 - 2021 31


SBR 4 graphite and acrylic on linen 55 x 38 inches 2017 33

SBR Sculpture 1 wood, wire, and paint 90 x 20 x 12 inches 2005 - 2021 34

SBR 11 graphite and acrylic on linen 55 x 72 inches 2018 35


SBR 5 graphite and acrylic on linen 55 x 37 inches 2017 37


Assemblage of SBR Ladders (see following pages for details) 39




SBR Ladder 1 found object, wire mesh, wax, and spray paint 101 x 19 x 15 inches 2016 - 2021 SBR Ladder 2 found object, wire mesh, wax, and spray paint 102 x 17.5 x 15 inches 2016 - 2021 SBR Ladder 3 found object, wire mesh, wax, and spray paint 81 x 72 x 10 inches 2016 - 2021 SBR Ladder 4 found object, wire mesh, wax, and spray paint 85 x 18.5 x 15 inches 2016 - 2021 43


SBR Ladder 5 found object, wire mesh, wax, and spray paint 74 x 37 x 7 inches 2016 - 2021 45


SBR 9 graphite, acrylic, and wire mesh on linen 55 x 38 x 3 inches (each) 2016 47


SBR 12 graphite and acrylic on linen 73 x 59 inches 2017 49


SBR 6 graphite and acrylic on linen 55 x 36 inches 2016 51


SBR 1 graphite and acrylic on linen 55 x 36 inches 2016 53


SBR 14 graphite and acrylic on linen 84 x 108 inches 2021 55



by Dr. María Eugenia Rabadán Villalpando University of Guanajuato, Guanajuato, Mexico “Sarah Brodsky‘s Ring,” 2016- 2021, by Rick Levinson, began as his dictated narrative, which became his parallel project of images and text. Thus, the work originated from an act of writing followed by a complex series of paintings, collage, drawings, and sculpture. Levinson’s story is entitled “Dinner at Malcolm and Reneé’s.” The story originated with Levinson’s friend, Reneé. She recounted a family episode that is simultaneously tragic and paramount, that pierces and unexpectedly transforms all who hear it. Levinson chooses this story of a ring, and he is right to do so. A ring has potent symbolic impact. I remember how Viktor Frankl in “Man’s Search for Meaning,” states that his wedding ring, together with his manuscripts (which were his entire life’s work) were the two tangible objects, the very last objects of which he could be deprived. Frankl wrote this to emphasize that after all tangibles have been taken, we can still retain our intangible abilities to reason and decide. Levinson wrote his version of the story in a circular narrative, probably relating to the roundness of the ring, which has no beginning and no end, symbolizing eternity, unity, commitment, and consecration of the union, and also between heaven and the universe. (Aizpuru, 2017, p 60). Reneé’s original storytelling begins with the celebration of musician David Friesen’s visit, a party hosted by Malcolm and Reneé. Whether it is Reneé’s telling of the story, or whether it tragically starts on March 25, 1911 in New York City’s Greenwich Village, in either case it all moves around the relic, the ring. “Sarah Brodsky’s Ring” is a parallel project of text and a body of visual works, which make up this installation. In Levinson’s creative process the images are derived from the initial narrative, but perhaps not exclusively so.


I do not attempt to explain Levinson‘s functional paint strokes on the canvas and linen, or the folds of the impaired surfaces, or absence of pictorial layers that try to cover it. He does not explain the collage as a wire drawing floating in front of the paintings, or define perception, where a type of ring exists between the various layers of vision. Although you might think that since the Impressionists had discarded the drawing on the canvas, Levinson renews it in some of his paintings. But my text will not deal with the possibilities of drawing nor with the sense of unfinished work. Rudolph Arnheim, in “Art and Visual Perception,” talks about the impossibility of communicating visual mediums through words. (Arnheim,1981). In that sense it would be necessary to experience a visual perception directly from the works. On the other hand, paintings, collage, drawings, and sculptural constructions do not merely illustrate the “Ring’s” story, although some objects such as rings, clocks, and even urban landscapes suggest that they are at least in an analogous relationship. It is widely known that the modern era‘s idea of representation had ended at the beginning of the 20th century. This was stated by Paul Klee in “Creative Confession, 1920. “Art does not reproduce the visible, but rather makes the visible perceptible.” (2009, p 361). In that sense, Jacques Derrida’s response to Paul Cezanne’s letter to Emile Bernard about truth in painting can also make us reflect on the same issue: “He writes with a language that shows us nothing. He lets nothing be seen, describes nothing, and even less represents.” (2001, p 16). Deleuze wrote about Francis Bacon‘s paintings. “No doubt they there are ways of being seen and as such they are illustrative and narrative reproductions or representations…But we can already see that they can work in other ways: by resemblance or by convention, through analogy or through code. And no matter how they work they themselves are something; they exist in themselves: they are not only ways of seeing, they are what is seen, until finally one sees nothing else. (1981, p 28). Deleuze gives us a path to see how the paintings, drawings, collages, and sculptures elevate the narrative but remain independent. Indeed, nothing tells us initially, that the episode ever happened. The artistic phenomenon does not occur in the field of verification, according to the term used by Jacques Derrida. Possibly because of this understanding of the visual arts, “Sarah Brodsky’s Ring” might simply be an imaginary parallel project of text and images. 58

The works in the installation comment on each other. They quote each other. They also investigate other images from art history, as “The Blue Period” by Yves Klein, (Restany,1962, p 10) as acknowledged by Levinson‘s blue painting; possibly “Strattera al neon” by Lucio Fontana 1951, and the abstractions of Robert Motherwell and William de Kooning. They form the argument about images seen in “Sarah Brodsky‘s Ring”. James Elkins calls this phenomenon, in which images and theories support each other as “intelligent images“ (2013, p 32). In this way, Levinson‘s installation distinguishes itself as paradigmatic work, after modernism, which could lead to understanding other’s works. This pairing of language and visuals has a history in Levinson‘s work. “Sarah Brodsky‘s Ring” repeats a process he has addressed in prior exhibitions: “You Know Me,” 2007, Museo Nacional de la Estampa, Mexico City, or “The Bridge: a Journey Through Illness,” 2004, Lehigh University art galleries, Pennsylvania. The Bridge, in particular, was a collaboration of Levinson as a visual artist and pulmonologist, and Marc J. Straus as poet and oncologist. Among the disciplines that rely heavily on images, such as astronomy and art history, is medicine. Levinson‘s background has been deeply informed in two areas, medicine and art. Levinson often finds inspiration for his work in his own life. One could attribute the Bretonian qualifier of “compulsive beauty“ to them. This occurred with Sarah Brodsky‘s Ring, and what Reneé said during the initial gathering to honor David Friesen. The narrative process then continued as a performative act in the voice of Levinson, who spontaneously recorded his own version of the story, using dictation as his artistic medium. This is the basis for his writing of the story. It was written/dictated in one sitting, with virtually no subsequent revisions or corrections. Thus, some of the artworks in his installation derive directly from his narrative. However, we should also assume that long before the writing of “Dinner with Malcolm and Reneé”, Levinson had imagined in blue, sculpturally traced lines in space, and tried to understand his own work in relation to the history of his artistic discipline. “Sarah Brodsky‘s Ring” is a complex body of work that gives observers a great example of the relationship between art and life, and leads us to reflect, to interpret, to draw our own conclusions about storytelling, visual objects, and existence. 59

Sarah Brodsky’s life ended tragically on March 25, 1911 in the Asch Building fire in New York City. The eighth through tenth floors were occupied by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory (Burger, 2011). Her ring and a watch were the only clues that identified her remains. She lived at 205 E. 99th St., New York, NY. She is buried in Mount Richmond cemetery. Her name is included on the list of 146 perished lives in the welldocumented fire that occurred at the Triangle Factory fire (the primary source of this information being Cornell University library.) Levinson has seen Sarah Brodsky’s photograph. He has made a drawing which documents that he has seen this photograph. But, as we have learned from Deleuze and Klee, the photographic portrait and the drawing of it each stand alone. They each hold their separate and distinct values. ___

Bibliography: Aizpuru, M. (2017). El discurso cultural de Henricus Engelgrave en el libro de emblemas Lux Evangelica sub Velum Sacrorum Emblematum Recondita in Anni Domenicas Selecta Historia Morali Doctrina Varie Adumbrada de 1657. Guanajuato: Universidad de Guanajuato. Arnheim, R. (1981). Arte y percepción visual. Madrid: Alianza. Berger, J. (20 de Febrero de 2011). 100 Years Later, the Roll of the Dead in a Factory Fire Is Complete. Obtenido de The New York Times: Deleuze, G. (1981). The Painting Before Painting. En T. Myers, Painting. Documents of Contemporary Art (págs. 28-29). Londres: Whitechapel Gallery. Derrida, J. (2001). La verdad en pintura. Buenos Aires, Barcelona, México: Paidós. Elkins, J., & McGuire, K. (2013). Theorizing Visual Studies. Nueva York y Londres: Routledge. Fontana, L. (1951). Struttura al Neon. Museo del Novecento: Klee, P. (2009). Confesión creativa. En F. Calvo Serraller, A. González Garcia, & S. Marchán Fiz, Escritos de arte de vanguardia 1900/1945 (págs. 361-365). Madrid: Istmo. Restany, P. (1962). Yves Klein. Fire at the Heart of the Void. Nueva York: Journal of Contemporary Art. The 1911 Triangle Factory Fire. (27 de Marzo de 2011). Cornell University Library: victimsWitnesses/victimsList.html 60





SBR (WOP 5) graphite and acrylic on paper 14 x 17 inches 2016 65


SBR (WOP 1) acrylic and wire on paper 24 x 19 x 1.25 inches 2017 67

SBR (WOP 2) acrylic on paper 17 x 14 inches 2017 68

SBR (WOP 6) graphite and acrylic on paper 14 x 11 inches 2017 69


SBR (WOP 9) graphite and ink on paper 11 x 8.5 inches 2017 71

SBR (WOP 3) acrylic on paper 17 x 11 inches 2016 72


SBR (WOP 4) acrylic and graphite on paper 14 x 11 inches 2021

SBR (WOP 7) acrylic on paper 14 x 11 inches 2017 74

SBR (WOP 8) acrylic and graphite on paper 14 x 11 inches 2017






I have been making art for many years. I am a pulmonary/critical care physician. I believe that each of these paths originate from the same, if not parallel, places. The practice of medicine can only be initiated after the most rigorous devotion to scientific fact, hoping that people can be helped to overcome their inevitable biologic wounds. In contrast, my artmaking began informally, and I am self-trained. My life as an artist has always been deeply intertwined with my life as a physician. I have always felt the need of connecting the biologic challenges of my patients with the significant emotional, sometimes spiritual conflicts they face. My art is often about storytelling; my own stories, those of my patients, or totally independent and imagined.


RICK LEVINSON b. 1943 — Salem, New Jersey, United States Lives and works in Paradise Valley, Arizona EDUCATION 1974 Pulmonology and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1969 Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey 1965 Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2021 Sarah Brodsky's Ring, Bentley Gallery, Phoenix, Arizona 2019 A Collection, Riva Yares Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona 2018 Acts of Faith (in collaboration with Wang Xin), The Armory Show, New York City, New York 2012 Back Looking Forward, Yves Klein Archive, Paris, France Presence/Absence, Gallery Splettstoesser, Kaarst, Germany 2008 En Face/About Face, concurrent with solo exhibition by Marianne Reiners-Maaz, Galerie Splettstoesser, Kaarst 2007 You Know Me (Tu Me Conoces), Museo Nacional de la Estampa, Mexico City 2004 Freed by Light, LUXE Gallery, Project Room, New York City, New York Acts of Faith, LUXE Gallery, New York City, New York Unvisible, LUXE Gallery, Project Room, New York City, New York The Bridge, collaborative installation with poet Marc J. Straus, Lehigh University Art Galleries, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 2003 The Shade, Site Specific Installation, Monorchid Studio, Phoenix, Arizona 2001 Gocaia Gallery, Tucson, Arizona 2000 Split Infinities, Ericson Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1995 The Invention of Memory, Martin Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania 1994 Faces Behind Faces II, Staedtische Gallery, Kaarst, Germany 1992 Faces Behind Faces, Gallery 44, Kaarst, Germany (cont.) 80

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2014 Not For All My Little Words, curated by Tim Hawkinson, Marc Straus Gallery, New York. Louisiana State University Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania 2005 Almost, Robert Miller Gallery, New York City, New York Selections from the Permanent Collection, Frank Martin Gallery, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania Galleri SE, Bergen, Norway 2004 Simply Drawn, LUXE Gallery, New York City, New York 2003 Arizona Biennial, Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona Building a Collection, Contemporary Forum, Auction Installation, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona The 100 Dollar Show - Studio Lodo, Phoenix Center for Contemporary Art 2002 Artists Masks, Neuberger Museum, Harrison, New York 1998 Muhlenberg Masterpieces, Frank Martin Gallery, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania 1996 Drawing into Sculpture, Mandeville Gallery, Union College, Schenectady, NY 1992 Group Show, Gallery 44, Kaarst, Germany 1990 Group Show, Arizona State University Museum, Tempe, Arizona 1989 Group Show, Construct Gallery, Phoenix, Arizona LECTURES, PUBLIC SPEAKING, AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE 1991 Artist Residency, Studio of Guenter Uecker, Duesseldorf, Germany PRESS AND REVIEWS 2019 "A Collection" at the Riva Yares Gallery Scottsdale gallery exhibits work of physician, artist 2018 Gotham Magazine: ART ADVENTURES: THE BEST AND MOST INSTAGRAMMABLE OF THE 2018 ARMORY SHOW Philadelphia Style Mag The New York Art World 2008 Tears, Sweat & Eyeshadow 2004 The Morning Call 2003 Tucson Weekly Tears, Sweat & Eyeshadow 81