Pandemic Landscape

Ivor Abrahams Figure With PAth
Ivor Abrahams “Figure With Path” 1977


“Take over Facebook with art, in order to disrupt, for a moment, negative news.

Anyone who likes this post will be assigned an artist and will put one of their works on their wall with this small text.

I was assigned (your artist)”

Online friend and podcaster “GM” posted this Facebook status with a picture by artist Egon Schiele two days ago, on March 29.  I liked his post and he assigned me Ivor Abrahams. Now, I had been thinking about a certain artist for a couple of days before I saw this post, specifically his enigmatic colored pencil landscapes on gesso. This artist, Corban LePell, was a friend of our family from the time I was in elementary school. He taught art at the local Cal State University and I took drawing classes from him in my mid twenties.

Our families were very close. When my mother’s father was on a ventilator at the end of his life and she had to travel a few hours away to consent to ending treatment, I was fifteen and very ill with the first round of the lung problems which would bring me near death several times over the years. While my mother was away, I stayed with the LePells for almost a week; talking with Professor LePell about life, art, philosophy, and beauty while he worked on the latest of the mystery landscapes which kept their own council in the shadows.

I’d become sick suddenly, only a couple of weeks before this, in early November of 1978. We lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, which was rocked by two shocking events later that month – the massacre at Jonestown and the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. It was a surreal time for everyone, certainly for me with my personal family and health situation.

Anyways, I’d been regretting that, though we have a couple of LePell’s pieces, I never snagged one of those gesso landscapes that were my absolute favorite. I can’t find any images of them online, but Ivor Abrahams’s landscapes echo them in technique, subject, composition, and emotional tone. This was especially delightful as I’d never heard of Abrahams before GM assigned him to me.

As I looked for images of Corban LePell’s landscapes online I saw that he had died – on the day after my birthday in 2018. This caught my attention as I’ve had a run of ‘next to day’ synchronicities involving the dates of my birthday, my near death experience day, and my sister’s birthday for a little over a year now (I touch on these in this post). This is most striking to me in terms of my birthday, as some of the influential older men in my life have associations with that date. For example, a couple of months ago I discovered  that James Webb, author of one of my favorite esoteric books “The Harmonious Circle”, died on my birthday.

GM has been posting a lot to social media as he is recuperating from what looks to be Covid-19 and subsequent complications. The day after GM posted this status and assigned me my artist, I found out that my sister has been very ill for a couple of weeks and her doctor thinks she has Covid-19 (she’d been hiding her condition in an effort not to worry my mom, who was stressing anyways – moms know!). Her husband and son are also ill, though in better shape than she.

My sister gave birth to my nephew the day before her own birthday.


This blog post on Art Everyday By Sylvia contains personal photos of Corban’s work and other images which recall him to me. He was friends with Bruce Connor and it looks like the dark ink drawing is by Bruce.

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