“Gardens of the Mind” Art Exhibit Displays Work of Centenarian Artist at Selby Gardens

September 16, 2015

The painted works of a 102-year-old artist who draws inspiration from nature will be on display at Selby Gardens’ Museum of Botany & the Arts beginning Sept.18 through Nov. 15.

“Gardens of the Mind,” a retrospective of the contemporary expressionist paintings of Dr. Joel Elkes chronicles the artist’s therapeutic artwork that has helped him process memories of his childhood survival of the Holocaust. Elkes examines the relation of light to natural objects, notably trees, in his designs. This is his second exhibition at Selby Gardens, however Elkes’ work has been shown worldwide.

The artist’s work is notable because of his unusual technique where the artwork starts as small charcoal and watercolor paintings on knobby paper that are later enlarged as glicée prints. There are 28 pieces in the show, including a self-portrait from 1945. Nearly half of the works shown are new pieces since Elkes last exhibit at Selby Gardens in 2008.

“In spite of Dr. Elkes traumatic childhood, he is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met, and his work shows a spirit of hope and appreciation for life,” said Jeannie Perales, Director of Education at Selby Gardens.

The Lithuanian-born Elkes had an extremely successful scientific career as one of the founding physicians of the new science of psychopharmacology, which studies how mood-altering prescription drugs affect mental health. He help set up and direct the Clinical Neuropharmacological Research Center of the National Institute of Mental Health and served as professor and Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Johns Hopkins University.

Major collectors of contemporary arts around the world admire and invest in Elkes’ paintings. An edition of “Souls Rising” is displayed in the office of the current President of Israel. Past exhibits have included the Cosmos Club in Washington DC, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the American College of Neuropsycholopharmacology and The Fetzer Institute and The Kalamazoo Institute of Fine Arts, both in Michigan.

Elkes and his wife, Sally Lucke-Elkes, have a longstanding relationship with Selby Gardens. Mrs. Elkes was the founding director of the Gardens’ museum, which was established in 1979.

Admission to “Gardens of the Mind” is included in regular admission to Selby Gardens at $19 Adults, $6 Children, 4-11, and is free to Gardens’ members. A closing celebration of the exhibit will be held 5 – 7 p.m., Thurs., Nov. 12, 2015, when Elkes will turn 102. RSVP at www.selby.org.