The Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial presents Harry R. Adler: His Life in Art in the Suzanne Fleisher and Ralph Joel Roberts Gallery of Fleisher’s new Center for Works on Paper at 705 Christian Street in South Philadelphia. The exhibition opens January 28 and continues through March 16. On Sunday, February 17, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m., there will be a reception to dedicate formally the new Harry R. Adler Studio for Printmaking in the late artist’s name. Both the exhibition and reception are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Monday—Friday), with additional hours of 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. (Monday—Thursday) and 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (Saturday).
A lawyer by profession and a gentleman by nature, Harry R. Adler was a passionate sculptor, painter, and printmaker. Born and raised in southern New Jersey, Adler was a respected and committed advocate in his law practice in Bridgeton. Despite a demanding profession, Adler never wavered in his devotion to art and the Fleisher Art Memorial in particular, where he studied for more than five decades. Over the years, Adler excelled in a variety of media and received many awards for his efforts, including the Leonard Goldberg Prize for Sculpture. The Fleisher Art Memorial featured Adler’s work in a solo exhibition in 1992.
Harry R. Adler started attending the Graphic Sketch Club (now the Fleisher Art Memorial) as a high school student in 1945, under the tutelage of recently deceased master teacher Frank Gasparro (1909-2001). Adler’s study of painting, drawing, and sculpture at Fleisher continued despite breaks for law school, service in the army, and commitments as lawyer, husband, and father. Not content to work in only three disciplines, Adler also took up printmaking – lithography, etching, and finally, monotypes and monoprints. Adler said of the medium, “Through monoprints a lurking and previously inchoate impulse toward pictorial expression has been fulfilled. If sculpture is the wife, then monoprint is the mistress and I dearly love them both.”
Harry R. Adler’s study of sculpture, painting, and printmaking at Fleisher continued until his death in July 1999. Adler once said, “There are classes at Fleisher I’ve never taken and, to be honest, I want to take them all.” He came close to fulfilling that dream. Of his commitment and joy in studying at the Memorial, Adler remarked, “One might perceive my opportunity to exhibit as a compassionate gesture of a kindly Fleisher administration in lieu of…an attendance medal.”
Adler’s last drawing was left unprinted on a lithography stone in Fleisher’s printmaking studios. A small edition of this final work will be printed for this exhibition by Fleisher faculty.
Adler’s work was instinctive, autobiographical, and full of energy. Adler explored every medium with passion and discipline – from sculpture to painting, drawing to printmaking. Harry R. Adler: His Life in Art includes works in a variety of mediums, but features Adler’s monoprints and lithographs in which he explored powerful relationships: edgy encounters between men and women, citizens and law enforcement, fathers and sons.
All proceeds from the work sold from this exhibition will augment Harry R. Adler’s own bequest to the Fleisher Art Memorial. Thora Jacobson, director of Fleisher, said, “Harry R. Adler was a gifted man and a compassionate spirit. He spent many years of his life at this institution, endearing himself to every one of his teachers and fellow students. His expressive line, his willingness to take risks and his ability to give life to human relationships in two and three dimensions made him more than an exceptional student. We are honored that his generous soul should continue to give to Fleisher as he did in life.”