James C. Litz (1948-2009)



Exhibition:
Saturday, November 28, 2020-Saturday, January 30, 2021


The exhibit has been extended until January 30, 2021, so please call to make an appointment to see this wonderful show.

Artist page with bio and addtional works link

 

Jimmy Litz As I Knew Him

by artist Sally Cook

Now the province of highly paid bureaucrats, only a few decades ago, the Allentown area was buzzing with artists of every stripe. Good, bad, old, young – it didn’t seem to matter; art was the thing to be stalked, analyzed, consumed or devoured on every level. Sculptors, printmakers, from portrait painters to abstractionists all were determined to take Buffalo by the hand, rip off her blindfold, and turn her toward whatever art they had produced. Of course it didn’t work, and why should it have? Artists, while imaginative, are not always logical in the conventional manner.

In a strange way, Jimmy was a much more mature artist than the rest; he streaked through the skies of Cheektowaga like a sturdy comet, blazing fire and rockets, larger than life itself, completely unaware of how different his attitudes, concepts and motivations were from the others. He made them seem conventional by comparison.

For years, art had been the province of society, and society always has rules. One big rule in Buffalo was that in order to appear in full color and in three dimensions as a 100% actual certified artist, you must get in line, follow along, speak softly, dress well, and hope for the best. It was all discreet and written on the air. You were free to comply or not, but those who did not would remain invisible.

Allentown had only one rule - ART. Some wonderful stories came out of those midnight Allentown sessions spent discussing art and philosophy, but you would never see Jimmy there. You might, however, routinely bump into him in a local art supply store or local coffee shop. Though Jimmy Litz did none of the usual things, he had attracted the attention of some of his fellow artists. One, notably, Tony Sisti, was intrigued by Jimmy’s approach to painting.

Everyone liked Tony; he was a leader in the fight against the pomposity of the Albright Knox, and whenever he caught it doing something aimed at discouraging the Allentown Irregulars, would kick up a fuss in the papers, put on a show and reap the profits in commissions and fees. Did he pay ridiculously low prices for the early work of his neighbor, Charles Burchfield? Did he study Burchfield’s style and teach it to others? And when push came to shove did he parlay his collection of Burchfield’s into a place of permanent recognition for himself?

Guilty on all counts. But no one cared; Tony was Tony, and he was on our side. So once he had noticed Jimmy, of course he wanted to make an ally of him. I think that Tony must have sensed that Jim and I were kindred spirits, because the first thing he did was to call me and ask if I could do anything for Jimmy. I said, based on his recommendation, of course I would be glad to see Jim’s work and make suggestions, and very soon I answered the door, never having seen Jimmy in person - only his work -  to find myself looking up at one very chunky guy with the face of a little boy.

Jim was a truck driver who loved nature, looked at the stars, and painted what he saw. What he showed me in a few snapshots and original pieces was remarkable. It was as if he had popped out of the womb a full-blown artist with a unique style. His subject matter was immense – Jim thought nothing of painting an entire football game or the fifth floor of a department store, where he might have included the shoe department complete with all the shoes neatly lined up. Jimmy had an eye for detail, yet he could also fill a large canvas with just a few flowers or a single magnificent forbidding feline.

Everything interested Jimmy, and he painted all of it.

Where had he shown? Turned out there was a place in Chicago that liked his work and had some on view there. How did he find outlets? Simple. Every time he drove his truck through a city he would find a gallery and show them some of his work. Other times he would look up galleries in a city and either leave work with them or mail them some. Jim admitted that most times he never saw the work again or the money for it.

Bob Fisk and I told him this method was full of holes; in those days before the internet, before phones took countless pictures, Bob taught him the basics of how to photograph a work and send off slides, not the more expensive photos or the priceless art itself for approval. We explained about commissions, much in the same way that Tony Sisti had explained them to me all those years before, when he made my initial painting sale. After that, I began to notice more of Jimmy’s work in shows around town. Discerning collectors such as Dan Fogel and later the Burchfield took an interest in him. 

A true primitive, Jimmy loved color. The Hawaiian shirts he liked to wear to openings were a perfect foil for the more conservative tweed-jacketed professorial academics gathered there. The last time I saw Jimmy, I was properly dressed for any possible encounter with the Albright Knox; he was attired in an obviously new and somewhat uncomfortable three piece tweed suit. We gave each other knowing looks, then moved on to the next handshake; both, as usual, still hoping for the best.

 

·                     Image dimensions are in inches, height precedes width.                 

·                     All works are signed, titled & dated by the artist.

·                     Additional works by James C. Litz are available through Meibohm Fine Arts.

·                     View the full exhibition and additional works at meibohmfinearts.com

 

 

Catalog of Exhibition:

 

1.         Country Night Snow

            24 x 30, acrylic on canvas, 1994                               

            2750.00

 

2.         Midnight Rural Country Bonfire

            22 x 30, acrylic & watercolor, 1998                           

            2000.00

 

3.         Santa’s Workshop

            18 x 24, acrylic on canvas, 1985                               

            2500.00

 

4.         Winter Time in New England

            30 x 40, acrylic on canvas, 1990                               

            4200.00

 

5.         Flower Delivery

            18 x 24, acrylic on canvas, 1985                               

            2300.00

  

6.         City Street

            22 x 30, acrylic & watercolor, 1986                           

            1650.00

 

7.         USA Cross Country Train Over

            Rocky Mountain Gorge

            24 x 36, acrylic on canvas, 1997                               

            3800.00

 

8.         Winter Fun in the Country

            27-3/8 x 44-1/2, acrylic & watercolor, 2000               

            3000.00

 

9.         Ocean Coastal Fun

            19-3/4 x 44-3/4, acrylic & watercolor, 2001               

            2650.00

   

10.       Midwestern USA Riverbanks Relaxation

            22 x 30, acrylic & watercolor, 1999                           

            1850.00

 

11.       New England Coastal Town

            28 x 45, acrylic & watercolor, 1998                           

            2500.00

 

12.       Living Off the Land

            30 x 36, acrylic on canvas, 1994                               

            3900.00

 

13.       Two Cats, a Dog and a Little Boy

            (in artist painted frame)

            22 x 30, acrylic & watercolor, 2001                           

            2900.00

 

14.       Litz’s Pool Room

            24 x 30, acrylic on canvas, 1991                               

            2350.00

 

15.       Country Airplanes

            27 x 44-3/4, acrylic & watercolor, 1995                     

            2700.00

 

16.       Artist Hand-painted Mirror Frame

            30 x 15-3/4, acrylic on wood, undated                      

            750.00

 

17.       Freedom and Equality for All

            16 x 20, acrylic on canvas, 1995                               

            1950.00 (sold)

 

18.       Relaxing at Our Lake Front Retreat

            22 x 30, acrylic & watercolor, 1998                           

            2100.00

 

19.       Kites are Fun

            22 x 30, acrylic & watercolor, 1998                           

            2100.00

 

20.       Rural Country Animals and Pond Fishing

            16 x 24, acrylic & watercolor, 1999                           

            1350.00 (sold)

 

21.       241 Cross Country USA Express Train

            28 x 45, acrylic & watercolor, 1999                           

            2700.00

 

22.       The Old Ballgame

            24 x 30, acrylic on canvas, 1998                               

            2550.00

 

23.       Miami Music Festival Poster

            28 x 45, acrylic & watercolor, 1990                           

            2650.00

 

24.       Tropical Island

            28 x 45, acrylic & watercolor, 1998                           

            2650.00

 

 

 

 

 

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