Lenny Foster Looks Back

When Lenny Foster packed up his last belongings and closed the doors of his Living Light Gallery on Kit Carson Road earlier this year, his long goodbye brought tears to many a Taoseno eye.

Cry no more, Lenny is coming back. Only for a show of his work, not as in “moving back,” but he will no doubt be treated like a homie as he stops at the World Cup for coffee and elsewhere to check in with the many friends he made during his twenty-three years here in Taos.

Thanks to Georgia Gersh, this show of the last work Lenny Foster made here, will open at Magpie on August 1st, with a reception for the artist on Saturday August 5th from 5-7 pm.

When I talked to Lenny last week, it was at the end of a long day. He was chillin’ at his new home in St Augustine and sounded really relaxed.

“I love it here,” he told me when I asked how he was adjusting to his new life. “We found a great house and a good school for Sonny – I love being close to the ocean and of course my folks.”

Although there were many reasons for Lenny’s decision to bid Taos a fond farewell, his ageing parents were a priority.

“It’s sweet to be there for whatever they need,” he explained, “doctor’s visits, help with shopping, plus it’s such an easy trip  to D.C., NYC. Chadds Ford or New Hope.”

If you are Lenny’s Facebook friend, you’ll have noticed the photographs he’s been making of the late American painter, Andrew Wyeth’s home and studio in Chadds Ford, PA. Lenny became intrigued by the artist and his work while visiting Maine in early June, where Wyeth had a summer-house. He learned that a retrospective of Wyeth’s work was opening at the Brandywine Museum in PA., on July 12th,. A 100 birthday celebration of Andrew Wyeth’s quintessentially American Art.

“I made the trip to Chadds Ford, “ he recalled, “and it turned out to be extremely serendipitous.”

“A documentary was being filmed and the director was curious about me and what had brought me there so allowed me to shoot around the crew.”

“I am letting this take me where it will,” he says of the Wyeth project. “I think he’s made a way for me to walk in his footsteps. “

“I’d like to collaborate with Brandywine , the idea of a guy making a pilgrimage – perhaps photograph his models – those who are still alive – I’ve put that bid out there and we are talking.” He says.

While Lenny was here, he frequently visited (and took photographs of),  O’Keeffe’s home in Abiquiu, so his current fascination with Wyeth’s home and studio is just part of his process as an artist.. In fact, it was the art seen in the great museums of his home town, D.C., that first inspired him as a fledgling photographer.

I asked how his opening at Magpie came about, why he decided to return for this show, and to tell us a little about the work he is showing here.

“Coming back to do this show, for me parallels the time I first went back to D.C. after moving to Taos.” He remembered.

“I went back but it was no longer home, “ he explained. “I’m no longer attached to Taos, I’m not pining for or longing for it, so it’s kinda like “Hello Goodbye”, he laughed.

“The seed of this show was planted one day soon before I left, when Georgia came by the gallery one morning, and we sat outside on the bench drinking coffee and chatting when she asked me if I’d do a show at Magpie when I was ready.”

“I look back at last year as the long harvest; trying to gather up what I’ve planted in the longer season of 20 years. It was a remarkably tender,sweet, intense and difficult process and without it being all of that I wouldn’t be where I am spiritually and creatively.”

“In that last year I had to constantly ask myself,”do you want to be comfortable in this routine in this place or do you want a real life adventure and to grow beyond what you can comprehend?” He said.

There are 18 images of work Lenny made as he was preparing to depart the High Desert for the East Coast. These photographs are a look back at what kept him here for over two decades.

“I like my new-found anonymity, “ he told me, “ but I miss my peeps, I miss the morning coffee routine and things like that.”

He paused before continuing.

“Great inspiration has come from great risk and with that a greater reward than I bargained for. I feel that I am living a truly inspired life and you know that’s not always comfy cozy.”

“It was crucial coming here.” He explained.”It would have been easy to stay in Taos, to just stay in my routine, but I needed adventure.”

I asked if he had considered opening a gallery in Florida and he said he’d found a space recently but that it hadn’t worked out.

“I realised I was thankful for that,” he told me with a chuckle, “ I had gone at such a pace for the past 6 years or so, I just needed to chill.”

Updating his website and Social Media has allowed him to continue selling his work, and his show in Taos is a way for people to purchase a piece if they regret not buying one when he was here

Meanwhile Lenny is already onto the next thing, be it a gallery space in St. Augustine or a collaboration with the Brandywine Museum.

“Another thing that has been  important in the creation of this years’ work was that most of the images were created with my Hasselblad medium format film camera. As you know, using it requires one to slow down, to be more thoughtful, more precise in composition, to really be cognizant of what will be revealed and I believe the imagery has a slightly more organic feel; much like this last year.”

For more information about Lenny Foster’s show and opening at Magpie, please visit the site linked below this post.


All photographs (from Lenny’s upcoming show at Magpie) by Lenny Foster




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