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In Memoriam – Edward Levine

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Edward Levine who established the Harpo Foundation in 2006. Loved and admired by all who knew him, Edward Levine passed away peacefully on January 20th, 2020 surrounded by family.  Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1935, Edward Levine’s career as an artist, educator and philanthropist spanned six decades. As an artist, he explored the relationships between sculpture, landscape, photography and architecture with numerous installations, exhibitions and public commissions. His most significant project, “Vermont Village and Vermont Settlement,” begun in 1991, is situated on 10 acres in South Royalton, Vermont. It comprises over 50 site-specific constructions in the landscape. Many works employ water; others incorporate photography, video, and/or sound.   As an educator, he instituted visual art programs that extended the studio and classroom to include public space at MIT, Cambridge, MA (1989-2002); Minneapolis College of Art and Design (1981-87), School of Art at East Carolina University (1982-89); Wright State University on Dayton, Ohio (1972-78).  Edward Levine received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bush Foundation, and the North Carolina Arts Council, among others and was an active contributor to the field, as a consultant to the National Endowment for the Arts and various state and local arts organizations, as well as academic institutions, conferences and forums.  Edward established the Harpo Foundation as an artist-endowed non-profit to support visual artists who are under-recognized by the field. The foundation was and will continue to be Edward’s way to offer ‘gifts of assistance’ to the field of art to reciprocate the generosity he received during his lifetime.

There is no familial connection to Harpo Marx; Edward named the foundation after this Marx brother because Harpo Marx creatively communicated without words. To Edward, this seemed appropriate for a foundation that supports visual artists. Now, in Edward’s passing, the name Harpo aptly reflects who he was as an artist and teacher. Ed was a deeply humble and profoundly intelligent man who had a proclivity to answer questions with more questions and allow art to step in when words were unable to convey meaning.

Artist, Michael Mercil, a Harpo Foundation board member, recalls Edward aptly as “utterly focused on art and artists, and in opening (always opening) the possibility of finding the new in unexpected places from unexpected individuals.” The wonderful artists and organizations who have applied for funding over the last 14 years delighted Edward and surprised him continually. The Board and staff of the foundation is dedicated to carry on this man’s great spirit and vision and ensure that the foundation’s support of artists will continue to honor his memory.

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