Q&A with the artist

Regina Cassell

Lew Wilson does hand-colored photography and painting.  His exhibit, “Two Rivers/ Two Lands” opened Feb. 3 at the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery at the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library.

Q: Do you have a favorite work?

A: They’re all special to me, but “Mirror Writing” I would say is my favorite.

Q: What’s so significant about it?

A: For me as the artist, it represents the period when we almost lost the Florida Everglades forever and it was also at a time when I started doing my craft with the photographs and concept of preserving the land.

Q: Have you seen through your exhibits more public awareness about preserving nature and the arts?

A: That’s what this project is all about. It started to make a little difference in the way people viewed their ecosystems. I’ve also joined forces with some other people interested in preserving nature and we plan to come together and combine our talents.  We’re especially interested in New York and their problems with the Hudson.  We hope that it’ll be similar to the Florida Everglades.  People really just came together for the Everglades, even Cuban-Americans who’d just made Miami their home and had probably hadn’t even seen them.  That’s when the media got involved and it all came together.

Q: What about preserving the arts?

A: This photo is of one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s prize projects.  It was a campus and the students worked on the design and labor to pay off their tuition.  It’s Florida Southern College.  They called on me to commission this work.  They were at the point of how are we going to preserve this architecture and there were people who didn’t understand the point of that.  It’s like this Americanism that we have: tear down the old and build the new. It’s better if it’s new and we’ve lost a lot of art deco work through that. I was encouraged to do historic architecture in association with rivers.

Wilson’s exhibit is on display at the Sabatini Gallery in the Topeka Shawnee Public Library until March 17.