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Lesta Bertioa

Lesta comments on her painting and her “signature.”

Children of the World – this painting resulted from an almost magnetic attraction to the faces of specific children that I came across in various magazines, books, and calendars. In each child there is some spark of appeal that seems to resonate with these times of changing consciousness about our planet and the responsibility we share as a global family to promote mutual recognition and assistance.

In each child there is some expression of the rainbow of human emotions mirrored in all of us. One child whispers secret affection; another insists on being seen. One communicates a gentle compassion, another brims with sorrow. One radiates pride and promise; another retreats in shy uncertainty. One pierces the viewer with clarity; another sees the viewer through the smile of love.

As I tried to capture the essences of these children from Afghanistan, America, China, Mali, Nepal, and Tibet, I found myself captured by the purity of each message. The best way to portray what was speaking to me was to get out of my own way and allow each personality to speak for itself. In the end, I am as
surprised by the family that gathered itself on canvas right before my eyes as if I did nothing but introduce them to one another, and to you.

There’s a story behind why I sign my paintings with a symbol that looks like a C with a head and legs. After the passing of my father, Harry Bertoia, a world-renowned artist, I found in his work area three key-sized figures he’d made of bronze.

After giving one each to my brother and sister, I took one home and placed it on a ledge in the stone wall of my bedroom. It had been perched in the same spot for sixteen years, a tiny representation of a female figure, when I leaned back from a painting I’d just completed and wished my father could be present to see it. He would be able to answer my questions: “Have I finally achieved a level of mastery that can turn into a career? Is this painting good enough to consider selling?”

Suddenly a chill went up my spine as I heard a “Ting!” behind me. Electrified in every cell, I turned around. The woman-key had fallen – or been pushed? – from the stone wall onto my desk. The room filled with a presence and the word YES. Tears came to my eyes, and I knew I’d been answered. In the intervening eleven years, I have signed every painting of hundreds that have sold with that precious-to-me symbol of confirmation, not only of my artistic ability, but of the enduring energy of love.

Lesta Bertoia stands beside her high school friends Ron and Susan Spier at the Butter Valley Art Show held in Pennsburg October 15, 2005, before saying “good-bye” to the collage they purchased at the show created from stones and driftwood.
The sale of Lesta’s collage brought funds for the Lorax Foundation, a nonprofit organization which promotes the conservation of the Butter Valley area.
A collection of Lesta Bertoia’s work offered at the Art of the Butter Valley exhibit and sale on October 15, 2005, showcases the versatility Lesta displays in her work. Acrylics in both abstract and realistic styles and collages are featured.

Lesta Bertoia’s painting entitled “Children of the World” features the beauty found in the faces of many races and cultures. This painting was purchased by Bear Fever and presented to Boyertown School District on behalf of their shared mission: building community cohesiveness.
The painting will be offered to Boyertown High School’s library along with a plaque naming Bear Fever’s participating artists and sponsors—further testament to the commitment to diversity within the community.