Len was born in Brooklyn, New York; and, raised there in the 1940’s and 50’s. During those years he was a product of the tough streets of East New York and Brownsville. As a youngster and teen he was drawn to the security and swagger of the street gang. Both of Len’s parents worked, so that, there was little parental supervision. An early problem of occasional truancy led him to the stern care of his grandmother who worked afternoons at the neighborhood movie theatre. Ostensibly doing his homework Len spent the hours captivated by those wonderful black and white B movies and action-packed westerns of the 40’sand 50’s. Early on Len developed a penchant for sketching the actors, animals and scenes from those movies.
As part of his supervision Len spent other afternoons doing his homework in the office of and running errands for his family GP. Dr. Harold Zeide’s dedication to his work and compassion for his patients would have a profound influence on the teen. The draw of the street and the lure of the gang began to wane – replaced by unlikely heroes and what seemed to be improbable dreams.
In 1965 Len entered Georgetown University School of Medicine graduating with a medical degree in 1969. While doing an externship, in Pathology in 1966, he met and would marry his wife Arlene. The fact that Arlene bore an uncanny resemblance to the actress Ann Blyth is an amusing story in itself. Arlene and Len would have two wonderful children Robert and Melissa. By 1974 Len had completed an internship and residencies in both General Surgery and Urology.
The year of 1971 was pivotal and defining for Len. The raising of a young family; the demanding long days and nights of his residency; and, the loss of his mother – all had taken a toll on the young physician. A fellow resident, who painted for relaxation and was familiar with Len’s sketches, suggested that he take up painting. In 1971 surgical residents worked very long days and nights for very little pay. Len had neither the time nor the finances for formal art lessons. The best he could do was to teach himself by trial and error. For years Len had been drawing figures and portraits; and, now as a physician, had a professional aptitude for and a knowledge of human anatomy. The process of teaching himself to paint, in itself, was quite therapeutic and relaxing.
From 1974 until 1976 Len served as a Major in the United States Army Medical Corps. It was during this period that he had more time to devote to his painting. And, it was during this time that he had fun revisiting those nostalgic times of his youth by painting portraits of his favorite movie icons. Though this was a very brief period of time Len was able to hone his innate and self-taught skills.
Upon his discharge from the service in 1976 Len entered into the private practice of Urology. He would practice for almost 40 years. Unlike his fellow physicians any free time was not spent on a golf course – but, rather in a small room of his home that served as his art studio. Just recently Len retired from Medicine and now paints to his heart’s content. However, his subject matter has changed. Over the years Len and Arlene would take vacations out West. Whether visiting their son Rob in Arizona; or, riding the rapids of the Truckee and Snake Rivers: or, horseback riding in Wyoming: or, fly-fishing in Colorado – Len found himself drawn to the art of the beauty and the majesty of our West.
During several of their visits out West Arlene and Len, now and then, would happen upon western art shows. At a couple of these shows, and then in Arizona visiting Rob, they would run into Stefanie and Joe Netherwood eventually becoming close friends. Joe Netherwood is a much acclaimed and lauded western artist. Len found Joe’s passion for the West – brilliantly expressed in his paintings of western vistas and western peoples – infectious.
Len and Arlene hope eventually to settle in Arizona – close to the beauty of the desert and the red rock mountains, the wildlife and the cacti, the treasured history of our Cowboys and our Native Americans.