Whether reading a new novel or talking at the dinner table, it was always there. It, of course, was art. The love of art. The study of art. The conversation about art.
Jan Lewis Slavid, daughter of R. E. Lewis, who owned an art gallery on Sutter Street in downtown San Francisco, has lived a life literally illuminated by art. Jan first worked with her father when she was in junior high school. There, she says, she developed a love and fascination for art that was partly satisfied by working in a business that had a constantly changing array of fine prints, Japanese woodblock prints, and Indian miniature paintings.
Her father was something of a ground breaker, introducing fine prints to the west coast when he opened his gallery in 1952 . He specialized then, as Jan does now, in Old Master prints, modern prints and Indian miniatures, with a special focus on Durer and Rembrandt, Goltzius, Italian Old Masters, 19th French lithography, and German Expressionism.
The family moved to Europe and, while Jan and her sisters were in school, her parents traveled extensively, buying works of art to send back to the gallery in San Francisco and doing research on the 16th century Italian engraver, Giorgio Ghisi. They traveled during the girls’ school holidays and in the summer, and visited many museums, art dealers, auction houses, and places of architectural interest.
In 1969, after her father closed the gallery to become a private dealer in Marin County, Jan decided that she wanted to be more involved in the print business and enrolled in UC Berkeley where she studied Art History and worked part time for her father. Upon graduation, Jan worked with her father full time, and is carrying on the business which she and her father re-named R. E. Lewis & Daughter. Jan loved learning as she went along, drawing upon her schooling and experience to utilize her father’s extensive reference library to conduct her own research.
Today, Jan prefers to be a private dealer as is gives her the flexibility to travel, visit clients, publish two catalogues each year, and exhibit at print fairs in San Francisco (in January, at Fort Mason) and New York (in November, at the IFPDA Print Fair in the Park Avenue Armory.)
One of only a few Old Master print dealers on the west coast, Jan has access to many fine prints, as many of her father’s former clients contact her when they are thinking of selling single prints or entire collections. Jan’s inventory is also regularly refreshed with selections from website offerings and referrals from colleagues and museum curators.
John A Haslem, Jr. PhD