With the death of well-known local artist Jack Lewis just before turning 100 in 2012, the Rehoboth Art League is honoring Lewis' and his family's work with an exhibit through Sunday, Aug. 25. Along with a July 19 memorial service held in the Corkran Gallery, on July 20 Jack's daughters Heather Lewis and Sallie Sharpless, visited the art league to discuss his life along with other admirers, family members and friends.
"He had a hobo, devil-may-care attitude, and that brought him to Delaware with the CCC," said Sharpless. While working for the Civilian Conservation Corps, Lewis was instructed to paint the everyday life of those around him. "That was his art education. That was how he learned to paint and draw," Lewis said. He eventually went on to earn a masters in art education from New York University. While in New York City, Lewis met his wife, Dorothy, becoming friends in the military during World War II, and eventually they went on to start a family.
During their childhood, Lewis and Sharpless recalled "It was art, art and more art. I think it was something he recognized in later life that he went a little overboard with it," said Lewis. As they were growing up, Lewis became a teacher, leaving him the summers to travel and paint. "He really had his renaissance in his 70s," Lewis said.
Lewis met President Franklin Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor and was in communication with Eleanor for part of some time, but how he met them was unclear. To him, Franklin Roosevelt was his lifetime hero, said Lewis. Eleanor also wrote an introduction to one of Lewis' art books. He would also spend much of his time teaching art classes at the Rehoboth Art League, where Lewis and Sharpless felt at home.
While Lewis' work may be finished, his family is carrying on his love for art by becoming artists of different mediums themselves. "He was really excited to have this carry on a legacy of art in his family," Lewis said.