Vacuum Tube Online Museum

I recently purchased some wonderfully complicated looking radio vacuum tubes. Transistors and semi-conductors just never looked this cool. I remember TV repair men replacing tubes in the back of our first black and white set. The warm glow coming from these tubes still sticks in my mind. But more importantly they look like the last needed component to …a Transmuter? A time machine? a Deathray? Who knows. A overly simple explanation of these tubes is that there is an electrical charge being introduced through a vacuum. There is a filament or a cathode (don’t ask me to explain cathodes… I’m just an ignorant  time traveler).  I’ll be adding to this gallery in the future.




Time Travel Gadget Fetish

I would like to stand up in front of my 12 step program and announce…”My name is Les, and I have a Time travel gadget fetish”…Below are some very cool electrical…important…uh..things that if they can’t get you back in time, nothing will. My next post will be from 1917…adios!



(above)  From the ebay subscription:  “….a very old multi-tester for phone company use…The latest patent number I could see  on the meter  at 1901 and a Western Electric Pat of 1917”

this baby has “an old Weston meter, switches, buttons, two adjustable rheostats, four telegraph type keys, a row of rocker switches, all sorts of inputs and an indicator light”.

An indicator light!  isn’t that awesome?  How else would you know you’ve reached 1917?  Well, the indicator light is blinking! Right? And the whole thing is portable.


(above) WWII Electric current tester. This small (5″ X 8″ X 5″) unit is probably  just good for sending you back a  couple of hours or maybe even a day.


Or this little hand held TTD (Time Travel Device) where you punch in the date you want and then the gadget does the rest.  Sweet right?

(okay, maybe it’s an 1885 check protector made in Brooklyn, who cares once you’re back in time?)

“Echo” in the Park

I’ve passed this 44ft.  giant  girl’s head in Madison Square Park (23rd and 5th Ave. across from the flatiron building) for a few days now and have stood staring at it on more than one occasion. There’s something about it that seems other worldly. Some kind of distortion working in tandem with the over all size of it that makes your eyes play tricks on you.  It’s almost as if it’s collaged onto the landscape.  It’s very difficult to describe the effect. ” Echo”  by public artist Jaume Plensa is similar to another giant head sculpture Plensa did titled “dream”, which is 66 ft. high and is at Mount St. Helens.

There is an interesting piece on Plensa by carol Kino in the NY Times.

Leon Redbone Dwg. & Further Evidence of Sketchbookery

Leon Redbone at the Iridium 5/14.   I had great seats to hear Leon’s accomplished guitar playing and his anachronistic  hijinks.  Unfortunately he fled the scence before I could get him to autograph my sketch of him in my book.  Jumping out the back window to avoid a disgruntled husband no doubt…


below are some recent  pages ….


an unknown lady sings the blues and two  portraits of Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Sketchbook Osama

Anyone commuting or…okay awake the week of May 2, 2011 could not help but be bombarded by Osama Bin Laden’s face staring out at them from every newspaper, magazine and screen.  I was drawing his portrait in my sketchbook unconciously….

Bob Levering-The Passing of a Sweet Man, a Masterful Illustrator, and Wonderful Teacher

I was saddened to learn of Bob Levering’s  passing this past April (Friday the 22nd). Bob was not only a long time faculty member of the illustration department at Parsons School of Design, but a connection to the history of illustration. His career spanned the old studio system of illustration I was fortunate to have had Bob as a painting instructor when I was an undergrad at Parsons and to consider him a colleague when I began to teach there.

(above) Bob teaching in one of the painting studios at Parsons about 1983.  The student with him is Joe Dzialo, photo courtesy of Alex Goodman

Bob was a  passionate painter and instructor, and anyone who knew him would add the description ” …a kind , sweet man”. He took painting and class very seriously as I recall but it always came across in a gentle , mentoring manner. A good sense of humor too.  I always had the feeling  that Bob had the secrets of art inside him and he was just waiting for the right moment to impart them as you progressed in your painting. When I met Bob in the 1980’s  he had an energy that defied his age and it continued up into his 90’s.  We were amazed at Bob bounding down 2-3 steps at a time on the way down  8 flights of stairs at Parsons to get a coffee during a break in painting class.

In class when he demonstrated something you could see his mastery of paint, and at capturing a gesture. At one point Bob had brought in some small collages he was working on that looked  rich and intriguing. I remember Alex Goodman was invited to stop by his place and told me about the manhole cover he had, I believe it was some sort of perk from a job. He was doing portraits when I first met him and  it wasn’t until quite some time afterward that I saw Bob’s earlier  illustration work, his Pepsi and other adwork for The Charles E. Cooper studio in New York in the ’50s and ’60s.  At Cooper he was on staff with a host of other top artists of the day : Bernie D’Andrea, Norman Adams, Coby Whitmore, Murray Tinkleman, James Bama anlong with many more.

(above) Bob’s  flyer/promo created by Cooper to advertise their  artists.  -An example of Bob’s Pepsi work (Sept 1956  Family Circle magazine) and a Philip Morris ad.

(above)  From  Murray, who was a good friend of Bob’s has some annecdotes and photos of Bob on his blog.

(above) Bob posing for an brother illustrator no doubt  (originally posted at  and on the right playing  for the Cooper Studio team at interoffice baseball game, c. 1960, Central Park, NYC originally posted at


(above) left: Look magazine April 1959   Right: Art Directors Annual  1952

(above) Saturday Evening Post-April 1961   -originally posted at


(above) Boy’s Life April 1964 illustrating an article written by Stan Musial. I think Bob’s work got progressively looser and more expressive as time passed.  He had a great sense of when to let paint just drip and be…


Bob’s work  has been exhibitioned in a number of venues: New York City Center Gallery; The Brooklyn Museum, NYC. Award: Society of Publication Designers, gold medal. and is in the Collection of The Pentagon, Washington, DC.  His work appeared in Ladies Home Journal, The Saturday Evening Post, Look, Woman’s Home Companion. In 2003 Bob was given the  Distinguished University Teaching Award from Parsons/The New School, a much deserved honor.

(above) a great, warm recent photo of the charming old gent  with former students:  the fabulous Liz Lomax and illustrator  Michael De Brito outside at the Met –  photo from


Bob’s mentoring, good spirits and friendship impacted thousands of students in his 30 plus years of teaching. I’m sure that there are a number of you out there that have  stories or photos of Bob. Maybe even a scan or original work of his.   If so, please feel free to contact me and I will try and arrange  some sort of exhibit of his work and maybe a few pieces of artists/students  he’s influenced over the years.

Thanks for everything Bob- You will be missed by many. I hope you’re painting your heart out up there.

A obituary notice in the New York Times  that gives a more thorough account of Bob’s history can be found  here.   Robert Kenyon Levering 1919-20011

A memorial service celebrating his life, his art, and his teaching  will be held in the chapel at the Unitarian Church of All Souls (1157  Lexington Avenue @ 80th Street) on June 21st at 4 p.m.   –   All are welcome to attend.

A Post Script to this post :   Below are some comments/photos that came in after the very heartfelt memorial at  All Souls.

The photos below are from Ned Jacoby Bob’s cousin who spoke beautifully about Bob’s insatiable thirst for knowledge in science as well as art. Both Bob and Ned are avid ham radio operators/enthusiasts from early on.

(above(L to r ) Jules Wenglare W8DVS, Frank Lucas WS8CRA, Ned Jacoby W8KPB, Bob Levering W8INQ about 1935-37  in Ohio. (far right) A 16-17 yr. old Bob.


(above) Murray, carol and Bob at the Society of illustrators in New York.
The above  images were originally posted at   Today’s Inspiration, Leif Peng’s  thoughtful and well researched site on ilustration from the ’40s and ’50s.   About the occassion this photos were taken Leif wrote: ”  I only met Bob once – last May – at the SI.  Murray Tinkelman invited me to lunch there and asked if I wouldn’t mind if his old pal Bob Levering joined us.  What a thill that was!  I brought Bob colour copies of all those old ads… he was delighted… said he hadn’t seen any of them in half a century.  I can honestly say I’ve never met a more warm, kind, gentle human being in all my life than Bob Levering.  We three – Murray, Bob and I, spent the afternoon perusing illustration originals upstairs in the collection with the help of Eric Fowler.  Murray’s wife Carol joined us and I had to keep pinching myself – yup, it was all real – I was actually in New York, at the SI, holding an original robert Fawcett from Collier’s while Murray Tinkelman and Bob Levering sat five feet away discussing the relative merits of an original James Montgomery Flagg to an original Charles Dana Gibson!
… I’ll remember that day as long as I live.”


My daughter and I have started reading the “Guardians of Ga’Hooleseries written by Kathryn Lasky. You might remember there was an animated movie based on the 15 book series that came out in 2010.  Without going into a review of either we’re having a lot of fun reading them and I have taken to drawing some of the owls from the book in my sketchbook.

Jatt & Jutt are a particularly nasty  pair of birds that figure into the story early on. I did a quick sketch for my daughter:

I liked the simplicity of the sketch and their expressions, but of course could not leave well enough alone.  On another page of my moleskin I painted a more fussy version.  I’m not sure if it’s “better” yet but the story doesn’t end there…

I walk down broadway in NYC most mornings and pass the usual  visual excess, posters, advertisements, etc. The next day after I did the 2nd version of Jatt & Jutt I was walking along my usual route when I was confronted by this…

hmmmm….look familiar?  My god, am I that susceptable on an unconcious level to things I see during the day ? How frightening and wonderful!  A concept hitting me square between the eyes.

and Kourtney is even wearing feathers…