The Rediscovered Art Of Leonard James Petersen

In the back room of a thrift store I encountered a number of paintings that had been unceremoniously thrown into piles on the floor. I was given permission to look through them all, and as I did so the owner of the store explained that she didn’t like the art (“too weird“), and was planning on removing the frames to sell and woud be throwing away the canvases.

I sorted through every painting, rearranging them neatly against the wall, pulled about 30 canvases, lithos and drawings for myself and asked the owner to give me a price for them all. The price was something I could afford and I loaded my car with art.

The Artist was Leonard James “Len” Petersen. I tried to find out some information about Petersen but very little seems to exist on the internet. The stash of work I discovered consisted of paintings on canvas, collages, small sculptural items, drawings and sketches. Much of Petersen’s paintings include repeated imagery of nudes, birds and animals, and many are distinctly surreal. The bulk of the work was created in the late 70’s to mid 80’s. Petersen was friends with artist Vincent Baldassano and there were a few pieces inscribed to Petersen by Baldassano.

Leonard James Petersen was Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Superior, WI.

I like “Weird”, and I like the art of Leonard James Petersen. As a bonus, he also bears a striking resemblence to the Actor John Turturro.

Leonard Petersen was Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Superior, WI.

Leonard ‘Len’ James Petersen passed away in 2007

Death Notice in the Chicago Tribune, November 11, 2007:

“He taught art at the U of WI, Superior for 27 years, spending most summers in Manhattan’s SoHo. A painter and sculptor, Len’s award winning work has been exhibited in numerous galleries in New York, MN, WI, MT and CA. A pioneer of cast and vacuum-formed art, he won countless awards. After retiring, Len opened Inner Space Art Work, a gallery/studio near Loring Park.”