On Aug. 27, well-regarded artist and framer Joseph Lindsley fell at his home in rural Greene. Following hip replacement surgery, he was, at first, alert, talkative and participating in rehabilitation. However, he slipped into unconsciousness last Sunday (Sept. 6) and died Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 8). He was 95. A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 12) at the Root Funeral Home, 23 N. Chenango St., Greene. Calling hours will be 3 to 5 p.m.
Joe Lindsley was born in Hawleyton and moved to Binghamton as an adult. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II. In 1950, he moved to New York City to attend the School for Art Studies, where he trained with Issac Soyer, George Pickens, Ernest Fiene and Sol Wilson. From 1968 to 1980, Lindsley owned and operated the Artist’s Frame Shop and Gallery in Binghamton. He also taught art classes at the Roberson Museum & Science Center in the late 1960s.
Lindsley’s works – primarily watercolors, collages, and pastels — are represented in more than 400 art collections in the United States, Canada, England, France, and Australia. His final exhibition, “An Ongoing Journey: Paintings by the Artist Joseph H. Lindsley,” was held in February 2012 at the Broome County Arts Council in downtown Binghamton. It was curated by art collector Gil Williams. An album of photos from the opening reception will be posted later this week on the art council’s Facebook page. The photo here was taken during the opening reception.
Over the years, Lindsley was a teacher and mentor for many people in the creative world of our community. One of those who were inspired by him was Mike Foldes, editor of the online arts magazine ragazine, who was able to visit Lindsley at the hospital last week. The following are excerpts from a memorial article Foldes will be publishing at ragazine.cc:
“Joe had a wide circle of family and friends, and friends who became family, who felt his love and vigor and influence through the years. … His outspoken engagement with liberal humanism made him a star in the small pantheon of Binghamton-area activists. His strong opinions reverberated in numerous online groups, when his ability to get out and around was constrained by monetary and physical limitations. He never stopped being Joe, right up until the end, when he was good and damned ready to let go.
“The need to care for his ailing parents drew him back (from New York City) to the Southern Tier, and to Greene, where he lived, raised a family with his late wife Jean, and orchestrated his symphony of pastels, drawings, water colors, social activism, and framing. The framing business, in fact, came to be how he made his living. Art was not to be a kind enough lover to give him financial freedom. Joe was astute enough to observe, however, that financial freedom was as much a trap for those who have it as his low income was for him, just in different ways. He had the freedom of mind and thought seldom characterized by bureaucrats, politicians and corporate masters, and was rightly proud to take issue with whatever self-serving or hypocritical proclamations and policies they espoused.
“Joe’s presence was a godsend to many misdirected youth seeking someone who would listen to them without being judgmental. If anything, he was the ultimate encourager, listening, sharing, reinforcing the natural and native inclinations of those he knew. The constancy in his own work, and the encouragement he provided others to pursue their own dreams, was a cure for their insecurity, and perhaps even his own best medicine for what sometimes must have been an ailing spirit. But spirited he was, and that’s how he will be remembered here.
“Striving to overcome what he perceived as his own greatest shortcoming – a lack of formal schooling – Joe took to heart the advice of his high school art teacher (who Joe said must have known he would not be coming back for senior year). “Watch what others do, listen to what others say, and you will get an education.” That advice served him well for 9½ decades, through which he never lost his dignity, his voice, or his sense of humor.
“In that last conversation, Joe characterized life as a reflection of classical theater, the tragi-comic where pleasure is balanced with pain, where difficulties become the source of laughter, where guile results in the laconic, and truth is revealed in farce. He interpreted his fall and his pain as worthwhile as a day in the sun, just being alive and discovering what else there is that makes every day a pleasure. He loved the dreams he had lying in his hospital bed, detailed as life itself, he said, and just as fleeting. He repeated a couple of times that he’d been waking up laughing, despite the pain, and attributed it to the odd set of circumstances that put him where he was. He may not have had a Ph.D. in Classics, but he didn’t need one. He already had his arms around the Muse who inspired them.
“Of course there’s more; we’ll all have stories to share. I’ll leave it at this, a constant refrain by so many who knew him: ‘He will be missed.’”
(Please share your Joe stories in the comment section of this post.)