Jane Oppenheim (White)
We competed for a Scholastic Magazine scholarship to art school. He very appropriately won in a walk.
Lenny and I attended different colleges but stayed close. Both of us became free lance commercial illustrators and found ourselves living 3 blocks apart in Park Slope, an area of Brooklyn that dates from the Edwardian age. The neighborhood suited a desire we shared, to return to a past we'd never actually known .
I've asked myself what would Lenny want classmates to know about his life.
He was a wonderful artist who loved beauty, fantasy and illusion.
Lenny was a children's book illustrator whose obsession with the 17the century informed all his illustrations. He absolutely refused to compromise, taking only projects that pleased him. He was a perfectionist. I was a hack. He struggled while I prospered.
Lenny gave me the most wonderful gift i've ever received, all 33 original illustrations from one of his last books. I almost fainted when he handed me the pile of drawings, but I was in for an even more moving surprise when I opened the galley proof of the book and saw that he had dedicated it to me and my ex husband!
Our adult friendship was little different than our adolescent friendship. There was lots of giggling, gossip, snark, occasional carping about our respective partners, and frequent wound licking because the world simply failed to understand, much less compensate, us beleaguered starving artists.
I helped care for Lenny during his illness and was with him two days before he died.
He was gentle, intelligent, generous, playful and much loved by those of us lucky enough to have known him well.
I have framed all but 4 of his illustrations and they are everywhere in my home. My B&B guests rarely fail to notice them. I could not be more proud if I owned the Mona Lisa.
I've scanned one of my favorite drawings from the book he gave me, "Sing a Song of Sixpence", an illustration of the classic nursery rhythm. Look carefully at the three bakers. I think you'll recognize them.
I don't often stop to remember Lenny. He's been gone a long time. But feeling compelled to eulogize him reminds me how very much I miss him.
If any other classmates remember Lenny and would like to contact me I would be thrilled and grateful.