Laura Levine
this 'n that
(Shown Actual Size)
posted: February 14, 2011

Since this seems to be Dog Day, here's a repost of a mini-series I did of a series of mini-dogs for a Blab! show a while back. This grouping of life-size paintings of real-life tiny dogs is entitled (Shown Actual Size).

PES Xmas Animation!
posted: December 24, 2009
I first met PES and Sarah when I was a judge at the Florida Film Festival back in 2001 (2002?). They had a wonderful piece called ROOF SEX in the short film/animation competition. Since then, PES has pushed the stop-action envelope like no one else. His animated shorts are clever, brilliant, fun and tasty.
You may be familiar with his mini-masterpiece, WESTERN SPAGHETTI.

Here's his latest, a holiday greeting, called Ka-BOOM!

Happy Holidays!

Time Out NY photo issue
posted: September 2, 2009
A few weeks ago Time Out NY sent me a disposable camera and invited me to participate in their photo issue, NYC in Pictures, a kind of day-in-the-life of New York project. As they put it, "We sent 83 photographers, artists and personalities a disposable camera and challenged them to capture the city as they see it, then asked them about their experience."

Since I was going to be upstate that weekend hosting a front porch concert at Homer & Langley's Mystery Spot, I figured I'd shoot the event. Two Dark Birds was performing, and I was captivated by the singer's three year old daughter, Iris, who was dancing in her own little world while her father played guitar.

Some of the other participants in the project are Drew Barrymore, Jonas Mekas, Sean Lennon, Frank Bruni, Godlis, Brigid Berlin, Tim Gunn, Maripol, Penny Arcade, and yes, I'll admit it, a lot of other people I hadn't heard of, but that's OK, because I'm sure none of them have heard of me either.
Weegee Speaks!
posted: June 22, 2009
Last year I purchased an estate collection of over 15,000 vinyl records to sell in my vintage shop in the Catskills, The Mystery Spot. It's been great fun to go through the vinyl - there are some real gems there - but by far my favorite find has been this LP from 1958,  Famous Photographers Tell How.

It includes recorded commentary from Henri Cartier-Bresson,Philiipe Halsman, Bert Stern, Arthur Rothstein, and the great Weegee. The Weegee cut alone is worth the price of admission. His voice reminds me of the older relatives I grew up with in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side, a way of speaking which is sadly nearly extinct in this day and age.

"Now the easiest kind of a job was a murder, because the stiff would be laying on the ground. He couldn't get up and walk away and get tempermental and he would be good for at least two hours."

My friend Ted Barron was kind enough to post the Weegee clip and some more information on his wonderful blog, Boogie Woogie Flu.
Sing Me Back Home book cover
posted: December 9, 2008
The terrific book designer Beth Middleworth (Bats4Bones Design) thankfully remembered my portrait of Johnny Cash when she was asked to design the cover for the book SING ME BACK HOME by NY Times editor Dana Jennings (FSG). I love what she did with just some simple type. Jenning's country music-related memoir has gotten wonderful reviews. He is also currently writing a must-read blog on the Times website about his experience with prostate cancer.
LP Cover Lover
posted: October 19, 2008
Speaking of online collections of great record album cover art, this one is the grandaddy of them all!    
This one was donated by me, and in fact there's another great website of more Savoy/Harvey gospel LP covers at But I digress.....
Gallery of 60s & 70s Asian Pop Record Covers
posted: October 19, 2008
A fellow named David Greenfield posted an amazing gallery of fantastic 60s and 70s Asian pop record album covers here. Enjoy!    
Private Commissions and the Stories behind Them
posted: July 30, 2008
The Dubners
One of the more enjoyable sidelines of this biz is doing private commissions. There's always a bit of self-imposed pressure behind them (what if it's not what they imagined? what if they don't like it?) but they're a genuine pleasure to do. In many ways they're the most gratifying type of project, in that the people who commission me are doing so out of their own pocket, so it's a great vote of confidence. So I thought I'd share a few recent pieces and the stories behind them.

This first  painting is a family portrait, secretly commissioned on the occasion of my friend Stephen Dubner's birthday by his lovely wife Ellen. I always like to include personal elements in the portraits, and she was terrific about sending me reference photos, which was a great help. They're all holding items that have special meaning to them (a popular conceit from early American folk art). He's holding Freakonomics, the book he co-authored; she's a photographer, so she's got her camera; their son has a football and their daughter is holding her favorite toy, a plush dreidel (how cute is that?). Lastly, I set the portrait in their favorite family spot in Central Park.

This second painting was commissioned by a photography collector who had recently purchased a number of prints from me. There was a moment in his past that he'd always wanted to commemorate and I was happy to oblige. Back in 1975 when he was a student at Oxford, he'd gone to see Tammy Wynette perform at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. This was shortly after Evel Knievel's failed attempt to jump his motorcycle over thirteen buses in Wembley Stadium, and Evel happened to be in the audience. Tammy proudly introduced him from the stage and proceed to list off every bone he'd broken in his body. It was a special moment indeed. Fortunately, my client was very patient with me - I took so long to complete this painting that Evel passed away in the interim.

Lastly, another birthday surprise. My dear friend Mark Whitaker was turning fifty and his wife Alexis Gelber and kids had a novel idea. Years ago I'd illustrated a series of covers of jazz albums for Verve Records, called the Essential Series. One of the pieces was the cover for a boxed set of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday and Sarah Vaughan recordings. (In fact, I'd given that boxed set as a gift to Mark for an earlier birthday). We decided to work from that original painting, and Alexis, being a top-notch editor, suggested adding a couple more singers that Mark was a big fan of - in this case, we chose Nina Simone and Dinah Washington.

What I didn't realize was that I was expected to make a public presentation of the painting at his birthday dinner party!  Now, I'm not much of a public speaker (in fact, terrified) so it was quite daunting to get up there and make my little speech in front of the likes of Brian Williams, Fareed Zakaria, and Henry Louis Gates, but somehow the wine made it easier, and I got through it. (In fact, Gates came up to me afterwards and told me I'd "hit a home run.").
Tammy Wynette and Evel Knievel
Jazz Ladies