Len Shalansky painted life as he knew it, with compassion and a bit of humor. His caricatures and cartoons are numerous, with a whimsicality and wit for which he was well known. In his fine art paintings, life on the street is portrayed as difficult and the characters seem downtrodden, yet not tragic. Ruby Shalansky, his wife, recalls, “Len was very compassionate about people. Much of his work has a full moon or sun. The symbols of the moon or sun were the hope of those people.”
In his memory, a posthumous art show will celebrate Shalansky’s unique style and outlook on life while raising funds for amyloidosis research, the disease which took his life this past April. Dozens of Mr. Shalansky’s works will be displayed for the show, which opens with a reception Sunday, November 13 from 1 to 4pm at Temple Beth-El. “The reason [the show] is at Temple Beth-El is because I was the executive director until this June and it became a second home and family to us,” says Ruby. “The job of executive director is all consuming and Len was with me at every opportunity, always supporting me with my work.”
The show will continue through Thursday, November 17 from 9am-6pm. All proceeds will directly benefit the Amyloid Treatment and Research Program at Boston University School of Medicines. “Len would have wanted this, to find the cause of amyloidosis and cure because right now, there is neither,” says Ruby. Checks and credit cards used will be paid directly to the program in the effort to raise funds, and the bulk of Mr. Shalansky’s work will be for sale.
Amyloidosis is a rare disease that is understudied and not well known. It is now thought to be the deposit and buildup of misfolded proteins in the organs. This buildup can occur in a single organ or become widespread throughout the organ system and can cause serious illness or death, along with many different symptoms. There are several types of amyloidosis and different organs are affected with different people. In the case of Mr. Shalansky, the buildup occurred on the heart. “He was diagnosed in January and he died in April,” notes Ruby. “It was going to happen, but it was so sudden.” Although there is no known cure for the disease, there are treatments for all types, which decrease the protein.
Shalansky was treated at the Amyloid Treatment and Research Program in Boston, internationally renowned as the world’s leading facility for treatments. “The doctors at BU were kind and patient,” Ruby recalls. “There are 20 of them that dedicate their lives to this condition.” The program is dedicated to diagnosis and treatment; the research team is currently trying to identify the cause of the disease to develop better therapies. Because of the rarity and obscurity of amyloidosis, the program relies on the support and donations of families and friends, and the upcoming show is the perfect opportunity.
The artist studied illustration, art and design at Cooper Union and the Pratt Institute, kicking off his career in art. He worked at Hasbro Toy Company as chief illustrator for several years and then opened his own art studio, located in Warwick, where he lived and worked for nearly 35 years. During this time, he created countless works that combined his compassion and draftsmanship, capturing many different aspects of life in styles that were all his own. “He was an excellent draftsman. One line could become a hand or a face,” Ruby explains. “He was born with it.” Shalansky also illustrated over 200 textbooks for publishers including ESL, English and foreign language textbooks.
For more information about amyloidosis or the Amyloid Treatment and Research Program at Boston University School of Medicine, or to directly donate, please visit the Program’s website.
For more information about the art show and sale honoring Len Shalansky’s memory, please contact Ruby Shalansky at 738-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Temple Beth-El is located at 70 Orchard Avenue.