Lisa Lehman Trager
The 25-year Anniversary of HaroldLehman.com
Updated: Jun 1, 2022
This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of www.HaroldLehman.com. I created this website about, for, and with my father in the mid-90's, before many people had even heard of the internet. Here's the story of how the site began and my goals for it moving forward. October 2nd would have been my father’s 108th birthday. Hence, what better date to launch HaroldLehman.com 2.0. Happy Birthday Dad!
In 1994, after 10+ years of working in television, I was downsized. I wondered what transitional skills I had to create a new career. My husband was an early adopter of the internet. As I sat forlorn about the end of a career in television, he said, “Stop crying about television, the future is the internet.”
I took the opportunity to take a 6-week certificate course at NJ Institute of Technology on literally everything there was at that point in time you could learn about “the web.” From HTML to graphics, firewalls, and managing a website, it covered it all! As I’m a person who learns by doing, I wanted to create my own website. Although still inexperienced in the world of digital, I knew there were two things that every website needed – 1) An engaging story and content and 2) Great images.
What better topic than doing a website on the life and artwork of my father! Hence, for the next year I sat with my dad, asking him to tell me his story. Why did he move to Los Angeles? How did he meet Jackson Pollock? How did he get involved in creating murals?
I got to not only hear his story in his own words, but also scan and photograph his catalogue of artwork and archival images related to his biography. Going through this experience, I got to understand my father more as a person. I grew empathy for him as I began to gain a better understanding of the personal, as well as larger events that occurred in the art world, which literally knocked him off his trajectory of continuing with his friends Jackson Pollock, Reuben Kadish, and Phil Guston on the path towards becoming recognized as some of the greatest artists of their generation. Early in his career, he received tremendous accolades and rave reviews. In a review of the 2-man show that my father participated with Phil Guston at the Stanley Rose Gallery in Los Angeles, in 1933, art critic of the Los Angeles Times Arthur Millier wrote,
His drawings show Lehman to be a sensitive artist, reverencing and understanding the drawing of the masters...[He also shows]a self-portrait which, in its simplicity and honesty, might stand as a portrait of the young artists of this generation.
As the years went by, this website has helped me to fulfill a promise I made to my father before he passed, which was to help ensure his legacy. Over the last fifteen years, his artwork has been included in major museum exhibits on Post Surrealism, as well as retrospectives on the influence of D.A. Siqueiros and the Mexican muralists on American art in the 1930’s-40’s. This website helped curators to find him and hence reach a wider audience.
Now, 25 years later, it’s past time for a refresh! I have taken the opportunity to explore unanswered questions I had on the chronology of some events in my father’s professional career. HaroldLehman.com 2.0 now includes scans of original newspaper articles from the 1930’s and 1940’s covering events that my father participated to give you, the visitor, more context of the times, how revolutionary much of this artwork was for its day, and how it laid the groundwork for art to come. Delving into the newspapers of those times, it was also a stark reminder of how divided people were on everything from the role of women, rights of workers, and the mistreatment of Black people, to whether the US should participate in WWII and help defend our allies – similar topics we are still dealing with today…
My objective with this Blog is to use it as a tool for taking a deeper focus into my father's artwork and historical documents from his archives, to discussing more contemporary topics related to current artists and exhibits.
Please stay tuned for the opening of the new Gallery. I invite you to join our email list in Contact Us so you can be notified when it goes live, as well as be contacted when new posts are added to the site.