‘I’m inspired by what I see’

For his latest solo show, Ohio artist Lee Kirschbaum will be “coming home.”

Kirschbaum’s work, “Feathers and other Fine Art,” will be on display Tuesday through June 28 at the KK Berge gallery in downtown Granite Falls. An artist reception will be from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, June 5.

Kirschbaum grew up on a farm outside of Granite Falls. He received a master of arts degree in mathematics from Andrews University in Michigan and at the same time, he had completed the requirements for a commercial art certificate from Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis.

“I worked on art in the summertime,” Kirschbaum said.

He taught math and science for a year at a school in Long Island, N.Y. He said he liked the teaching, but the city was “way too crowded for a country boy like me.”

Kirschbaum then moved to the Akron, Ohio area. He spent 30 years at Firestone as a computer programmer and systems analyst. He did illustration and graphic design for different advertising agencies and commercial clients.

“I would do freelance,” he said about art. “I would get commissions once in a while.”

In 2004, Kirschbaum decided to make a change in his life.

“After 30 years of working in IT, I got tired of it,” he said.

What Kirschbaum really enjoyed was drawing and painting. So he retired from his job to do art.

Kirschbaum works in pastels and watercolors. He uses photographs he’s taken himself to create his artwork, and most of his subject matter includes wildlife, mainly birds and waterfowl.

“If I find something I like, I take a lot of pictures,” he said. “I work off of several references that I have.”

For his portrait work, Kirschbaum said he uses a combination of photographs and having the subject sit for him.

“Usually you can get a better likeness working live, but that’s not always possible,”?he said.

In his artist statement, he says he “enjoys the challenge of the portrait: not only capturing the likeness but the personality and character of an individual.”

Kirschbaum also has several composite pieces, including one of the history of Firestone.

Throughout the years, Kirschbaum has entered several federal duck stamp contests and waterfowl stamp contests in Ohio.

“I have several of those in my exhibit,” Kirschbaum said about the stamps.

The competition for the duck stamp contests is stiff, Kirschbaum said. But, he said, he’s gotten plenty of practice when entering them.

“I’ve never won one yet, but I’m gonna keep at it ’til I do,” Kirschbaum said.

His work hangs in private collections throughout the country, and 20 of his pencil illustrations have been reproduced in a children’s magazine. He’s also done several member arts shows in Akron with the Akron Society of Artists and did a one-person show at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources lobby in Columbus, Ohio.

The exhibit at KK Berge includes several paintings of ducks, geese and other birds.

“(There’s a) couple of the composite drawings that I’ve done,” Kirschbaum said about works that are in the KK Berge exhibit.

Kirschbaum said he also has local items of Granite Falls in the exhibit, including a drawing of the downtown walking bridge. He’s also working on a painting of the dam that goes downtown.

“I’m inspired by what I see,” Kirschbaum said.