“I see paintings in the places most people forget to look,”

wrote Val Lewton, who exercised his “contrary eye” as a realist painter in Washington, D.C. for more than half a century after arriving here from his native California in the early 1960s. During that time of triumphant abstraction in the nation’s capital, Lewton focussed on roads and cars and the dynamic patterns of then-young DC suburbs such as Dale City, Virginia. With both a studio and a job in downtown DC, he recorded the incessant, often violent changes wrought by giant cranes and wrecking balls in paintings of great power and poignancy. His later, masterful sequence of paintings of huge 18-wheel trucks--the rugged wheels of the industrial economy--further reveal Lewton’s unique artistic temperament and his subtly provocative take on American society in the late twentieth and early 21st-centuries. As a painter, Lewton thrived equally in the vital, fossil-fueled miasma of Breezewood, Pennsylvania and in the luminous late-afternoon light and shadows of Lewes, Delaware. He transformed everything he saw--including the ordinary one-gallon paint cans of his studio in Northwest D.C.--into hard-knuckled celebrations of the art of painting."


Benjamin Forgey, 2017

Val Lewton:  From Hollywood to Breezewood`



National Gallery of Art, Corcoran Collection

The National Portrait Gallery

The Phillips Collection

Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Fine Arts Program at the Federal Reserve Board

American University at the Katzen Arts Center

The Fralin Museum of Art, University of Virginia

University  of Maine Museum of Art

Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Whitman College Sheehan Gallery

George Washington University

Towson State College

University of the District of Columbia

University of Vermont

DC Commission on Arts & Humanities, Washington, DC

The Wilson Building, Washington, DC


American Telephone and Telegraph

Artery Corporation

Beverage Associates

National League of Cities

Washington Post Collection