David Israel Litan made his living in the oil business, but art was his passion and his gift. His lithographs portraying scenes of Kansas and aspects of Jewish life and faith sold widely throughout the Sunflower State during his lifetime, most of which was spent in Wichita.
The artist’s son Robert Litan – noted economist and senior executive at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation – discusses his father’s art and faith on Tuesday, January 31, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
The talk accompanies an exhibit – From Wichita to the Wailing Wall: The Art of David Israel Litan – on display in the Central Library’s Guldner Gallery from January 21 through February 26, 2012.
After serving in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, David Litan and his wife, Shirley, moved to McPherson, Kansas. Ten years later, they moved to Wichita, where they would spend the rest of their lives. A proud Kansan, many of David’s drawings are of iconic buildings in McPherson and Wichita, including courthouses, college halls, and train stations.
When David Litan passed away in 2011, Robert returned to the family home and discovered a vast collection of his father’s art – under beds, in closets, and in drawers. Overwhelmed by the collection and unsure of what to do with it, Robert turned to two of his father’s friends, who suggested he sort the art and collect it in book form. The process, they said, would help him as he mourned the loss of his father and serve as both a memorial and living testament to his father’s talent.
The book – Having Faith: The Collected Art of David Israel Litan – chronicles the life of a deeply religious man. He was guided by his faith, which he attributed to his positive outlook, even in the face of misfortune.
In the book’s preface, Robert Litan writes: “The subjects he drew vary widely, and cover both religious and non-religious themes. Likewise, Dad worked in multiple media – oils, water colors, charcoal, and lithographs (which artists know requires physical strength, which Dad had in abundance despite his small physical size).”
“I have put this book together for two reasons. First, although I didn’t inherit my father’s artistic ability, I believe he had extraordinary talent. He had wide-ranging interests in many subjects, including scenery and people. He drew constantly, almost everywhere he went, but especially at home. Growing up, it was common and expected of us to sit still for a few moments (for that is all the time it took) while Dad captured usperfectly.”
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP online or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.
The book will be available for sale during the event and all proceeds will benefit the Kansas City Public Library.
Major funding for programs at the Kansas City Public Library is provided by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.