Leslie Bender

I have lived and worked in the Hudson Valley since 1986, painting in my loft studio in Kingston, selling art, working on murals and theater sets, and giving private art lessons. My work has been exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions throughout the region, beginning with a one-woman exhibition at the James Cox Gallery in Woodstock in 1989, and more recently, a solo exhibition at Garrison Art Center in 2019. I also curated a show addressing domestic violence by much older women artists at the Green Kill Gallery in 2019.

Earning credentials in scenic painting for theater in 1995 enabled me to work with national scenic shops and to design and paint backdrops for regional theaters, including the Woodstock Youth Theater, PAW (Performing Arts of Woodstock), Ulster Ballet and Albany’s Capital Repertory Theater.

I began my career after graduating from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, with a BFA in Painting in 1975. Soon thereafter, I directed mural projects in the Brooklyn public school system with the Brooklyn Arts Councils. In 1978, I was hired to paint community murals through a government sponsored project in New Jersey. My experience led me to Manhattan to work with CityArts Workshop until 1982, designing and teaching students to paint community murals. During this time, I met other artists participating in political rebellion against Reaganomics; my stencil prints addressing homelessness were appropriated by a larger leftist organization. These stencil prints were also exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Downtown

My art practice is influenced by my life history. Originally, I painted still life and landscapes, and undercover of night, internal battle scenes. An artistic breakthrough in 1984 opened a doorway to my blanked-out memory, and for the next 3 decades, shocking, heartbreaking experiences surfaced in raw, emotionally expressive imagery. In 2019, a mystical experience with my beloved dramatically altered my life, and now, light pours into my artwork; my style has become a magical narrative, filled with a joyous intelligence.