Sunday, October 31, 2010
My Grandfather, wood carver extraordinaire, part 1
These two photos above, which I've had forever, started a search a several years ago, first by my older brother, then picked up by me. We knew that these were carvings by our grandfather, Russian Jewish immigrant woodcarver/artist Harry Levine. We believed that they had been done in Croton-on-Hudson, NY, but had no idea why we knew that, and what would have precipitated our grandfather carving a totem pole. And what exactly are the significance of those carvings on the garage lintels and the panels in the doors?
The problem is that our parents and grandparents are all deceased, Grandpa Harry before any of us were grandchildren born. So how do you go about finding a missing totem pole? First I dug up an envelope of negatives that included the building in the second photo, which my brother had enlarged.
In the photos he enlarged were also these pictures of carved heads on fenceposts on a little bridge.
Imagine our surprise! Were these in Croton as well? Did Grandpa carve these too? Actually, was ANY of this stuff in Croton at all? Could we find them? Careful examination of the photos found my grandfather's initials on a couple of the fenceposts, and stylistically, they seemed like his work. (*Note the statue visible in the lower left of the center bottom photo. I wonder if that was Grandpa's carving too?)
So my brother, who was often on the road for his job, made stops in Croton from time to time, asking around, and visiting the historical society. No success, and the search was suspended for a while. Maybe a year down the road, I got interested and began my own searching. Between the two of us, some doors began to open.
Tune in for part 2 of the totem pole saga, in another day or two!!!
Meanwhile, below are links to the two pieces of Grandpa Harry's work that are owned by the Brooklyn Museum. They are displayed in their Luce Center for American Art, Visible Storage area, on the 5th floor of the museum (How cool is THAT?) :