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JFK - A Fractured History
at Mary Tomas Gallery
by Todd Camplin

November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. That fact is clear,
but everything else feels a little murky. Mary Tomas Gallery hosts a solo show by painter
Leslie Lanzotti. Lanzotti must have been only six when she heard the news of his death.
At such a young age, you never know what an event like that can impress upon a
child. Obviously, it had some impact for her to take on this monumental moment in
history in her current show titled JFK - A Fractured History.
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I had lived in Dallas for several years before I visited the 6th Floor Museum and only because my
wife’s cousin wanted to go. She was from Italy and I remember her expressing the shock she felt
when Kennedy died. The news had a global shockwave that I didn’t fully appreciate. Filmmakers,
authors, and visual artists continue to weigh in on this event. Though film and books focus more on
theories than pure historical accounts. The media outlets have been poured over and explored
from many different angles. Thankfully, Leslie Lanzotti’s paintings don’t seem to support one theory
over another. But she implies through her use of the blurred images that nothing about this story
is clear-cut.

Lanzotti’s skill in rendering faces really shines in these works, along with the painting of Walter
Cronkite. She captures the look and emotion of these faces from the past with care and almost
sympathy for what these people must have felt. I was reminded of Ed Blackburn’s approach in
similar era inspired paintings. Both Lanzotti and Blackburn simplify and blur the past as do our
collective memories.
Lanzotti also employs a technique from the conceptualist artists. She paints words to go along
with some of the images. These words are excerpts from witness accounts. Other statements are
the groundwork of some the conspiracy theories that cropped up. Lanzotti obscures the text by
allowing words to be cropped off the canvas. Thus we have to piece the sentences together.
I also found the images of the popular culture well placed. The screenshot of the Andy Griffith
Show and the Superman live-action series helped frame how impactful his death was by
even entering fictional television shows.
24 x 36 inches
Umbrella Man
30 x 64 inches
18 x 48 inches
40 x 40 inches
Dallas went through the stages of grief over the assassination. It is fitting a DFW artist still feels the
power of this story and is drawn to respond. Dallas continues to own its history and I think Lanzotti
can play a role in helping give a fresh look at the past. Possibly introducing the current generation
to a moment in time where losing a President has so many people asking, why. Leslie Lanzotti will
take you to the past through November 18th. Only 4 days shy of Kennedy's death.