In the current exhibit at City Gallery, Mary Lesser brings something special to the art of portraiture…

Lesser’s story telling begins with photographs, some that come directly from her family, others found in flea markets or attics, that are scanned into a computer ad manipulated. From these she creates drawings, monotypes, collages and shadow-box constructions that tell interesting tales.

Some of the most touching works are a series simply entitled “Family History,” mixed-media monotypes, reminiscent of classic snapshot-like photos…

Each work includes patches of anonymous hand-written text that gives the images a sense of narrative ad history. These are lovely works that appear to possess a psychological subtext, one getting a sense that although the tangibles remain as smiling photographs, there are also intangibles here that transcend the smiles, suggesting a host of memories and losses that will never be forgotten.

— Judy Birke, Art Critic. The New Haven Register, April 2007


Perusing Mary Lesser’s “Postcards from the Road” series of miniature paintings, I felt the spirit of Jack Kerouac looking over my shoulder. A couple of dozen of the post-card-sized landscapes – rendered in gouache—were displayed on the wall of her studio. There were scenes of bucolic rural drives and of turnpikes barreling past industrial outcroppings on the urban fringe.

— Hank Hoffman. Connecticut Art Scene, October 2006


The compelling pieces, and they are truly compelling, are a group of images by Mary Lesser.

In a series of mixed-media works, Lesser focuses on the immigrant experience to address issues of history, family, survival and memory.

The thing that makes these pictures especially evocative is Lesser’s ability to deal with universal concerns through specific images.


Just as the physical properties of the materials are multi-layered, the narratives also speak to layered meanings.

Rich in the preservation of the past, they reflect the passage of time: the good and the bad, that has led to this moment before the camera, the subjects’ lives becoming part of the archive of universal memory.

— Judy Birke, Art Critic. The New Haven Register, August 2004