HiBrow Art Gallery offers special exhibit of Lanus’ work
By B.C. Manion
It has been nearly a quarter of a century since Alfred Lanus has put his work on public display.
But the impressionist, who lives in Dade City, will be making up for that in a big way this month when he puts on a one-man show at the HiBrow Art Gallery.
A meet-the-artist public reception is planned for Saturday, Sept. 10, from 7-10 p.m. at the gallery, a division of the Dade City Center for the Arts, Inc. The works will remain on display during normal gallery hours throughout the month of September.
Lanus, who used to routinely lunch with the surrealist Salvadore Dali when the artist was living in New York, was invited to display his works at HiBrow by Stuart Marcus, the gallery’s event director.
Marcus, who has a gallery at HiBrow, is a renowned wildlife photographer who has captured images of animals in the wild on all seven continents.
Marcus said his wife, Jeanette, an assistant tennis director at Lake Jovita, told him about Lanus.
Lanus told Jeanette: “I paint a little.” He invited the Marcuses to come see some of his work.
“I was absolutely floored,” Marcus said. “My honest feeling is what I see in the impressionistic style is as good as anybody in the 20th century and in the early part of the 21st, and he’s still painting today,” Marcus said. “I think as other people see it, it will move from our gallery to others.”
The last showing of Lanus’ work was in 1977 at the Bacardi Gallery in Miami. Before that, he had three exhibits at galleries in Manhattan, between 1960 and 1970.
Marcus said HiBrow is fortunate to be putting on the exhibit.
“I think it’s significant for this area. I think it’s significant for the Bay area. I think it’s significant, perhaps for the nation and perhaps in the art world.
“The man has traveled. He is a gentleman. He is an artist of the top flight,” Marcus said.
Lanus, 83, continues to create art in a studio area within his home and isn’t one to boast about his work. With the exception of Dali, Lanus said he never met an artist who proclaimed himself to be great.
Lanus said he uses his art to evoke a mood.
For instance, in the painting he calls “Rescue at Land’s End,” he shows a dramatic rescue effort amidst crashing waves. There’s a sense of wind and fury.
The scene was much different than the day he visited Land’s End, which is in England.
“It was a beautiful, sunny day and I did a sketch with Land’s End, with the lighthouse to the left. Somehow, I decided to make it into a storm. So, everything underneath all those waves is there as it would be. Physically, it’s all there, but it’s all covered up with the storm,” Lanus said.
He has painted scenes from around the world, in some cases, painting landscapes – in others, capturing action.
His interest in art dates back to his childhood days in Argentina.
“From school days, I was always sketching,” he said.
But his father, who was in charge of the Bank of London in Buenos Aires at the time, wasn’t keen on the prospect of his son pursuing a career in art.
So, Lanus found other ways to earn a living and continued honing his skills as an artist.
He initially came to the United States for a visit when he was 19 and then came back two years later because of political strife in Argentina.
He wound up living in Erie, Pa., where he took art classes from a professor named Joe Plavcaf. Lanus was impressed by the teacher’s ability to inspire good work from his students.
“He was teaching boys who came back from the war (World War II). You’d see a beautiful girl who would be modeling. Some of these soldiers would just make a square or a round thing with dots.
“But a year later, they were painting beautifully. They were doing wonderful work.
“I was very enthused. I went there every day. That’s where I really started my great interest in painting.”
He moved back to New York, where he struck up a friendship with Ernesto Fairhurst, an equestrian and portrait painter.
“The funny thing, his dad and my dad were heads of the Bank of London in Argentina,” Lanus said, but he didn’t meet Fairhurst until both of the artists were living in New York.
Fairhurst moved to London and Lanus decided to follow.
Lanus eventually returned to New York, where he lived on East 82nd Street for about 30 years.
While there, he got involved in the art scene.
Lanus said his style is inspired by the work of J.W. Turner, who created impressionistic works during the latter part of his career.
“I consider him the father of impressionism. He died 200 years ago,” Lanus said.
Because Lanus didn’t rely on his art for his income, he said he didn’t have to “give away” his works. He did manage to sell a number of pieces over the years, though.
He became acquainted with Dali through Mafalda Davis, a woman Lanus was involved with for a number of years.
“Every weekend, we’d go to see Salvador, at the hotel. Salvador was living at the St. Regis Hotel,” Lanus said.
The trio would have lunch and chat, Lanus said. Dali, a surrealist who gained worldwide acclaim, was infamous for his eccentric behavior.
He lived up to that billing, Lanus said. “He was something, I tell you. He was crazy.”
Lanus recalled an occasion when Dali hired a double-decker bus and took about 20 of his friends for a ride in Manhattan.
“He had the bus stop. We stopped at 57th and Park Avenue.
“He had buckets and buckets of champagne. He stopped all of the traffic,” Lanus said.
“The police didn’t do anything. He got away with it,” Lanus said.
Marcus said the gallery is an excellent venue to show off Lanus’ works.
It is an especially good setting, Marcus said, because it is outfitted with “full-spectrum and daylight temperature lighting, so the color rendering is superb.”
The Dade City Center for the Arts’ HiBrow Gallery celebrates the beginning of its third year with an exhibit of Alfred Lanus’ work.
Meet the artist at a public reception from 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10
The works will remain on exhibit through September.
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by appointment.
The gallery is at 14125 Seventh St., in downtown Dade City.
For more information call (352) 521-3823 or visit www.thehibrowgallery.com