It is with considerable sadness that the editors and staff of Fabrik note the passing of Luc Leestemaker, artist and author, who died on May 18, his 55th birthday, after a battle with cancer. Luc was in many ways the guardian angel of our periodical, helping to conceive it, design it, launch it, and define it. He brought his considerable gifts in several realms of communication, including the graphic and the commercial, to bear on the formation of Fabrik, all the while evolving, and enjoying a growing reputation, as a painter in his own right.
Born in Hilversum, the Netherlands, in 1957, Luc was largely self-taught as an artist but took inspiration and guidance from his grandfather, a painter in the Dutch court. In his native land, Leestemaker was an organizer and entrepreneur in several arts, including visual art, theater, and literature. Working in Amsterdam, he helped found a performing arts center, an art collective, and a monthly magazine devoted to business and the arts. He was managing director of Leestemaker & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in arts marketing, financing, and public relations that at its height boasted the Dutch government’s cultural portfolio as its most prominent client.
Luc moved to Los Angeles in the 1990s. After a stint as an actor and model, he turned to painting full time. After spending a year in New York, Leestemaker developed a style influenced by Abstract Expressionism in both its American and European forms. He took particular inspiration from the examples of Willem De Kooning and Karel Appel, other Dutch artists in America. He quickly evolved a more lyrical style, however, in which the expansive brushstrokes and vivid palette of Abstract Expressionism becalm themselves, ultimately taking on the composition and atmosphere of land- and seascapes. Vigorous, yet imbued with art-historical reference, his paintings now displayed a distinctive and evocative style.
His experience in marketing and public outreach convinced Leestemaker that artists have a public role to play even beyond the presence and impact of their work. He advocated this public role to artists and non-artists alike, lecturing and giving workshops on the creative process, the artist’s identity, and the symbiosis between artist and society. To this end, Leestemaker published a memoir-like book, The Intentional Artist: Stories From My Life, in 2010.
Several other books and catalogues, including the monograph Luc Leestemaker: Paintings (2004), have documented Luc’s oeuvre, as has the widely-screened film Swimming Through The Clouds: A Portrait of the Artist (2008), directed by Terence Gross and Ruy Carpenter.
In 2005, Leestemaker created a private art fund to mentor and invest in emerging and established artists such as sculptor Patrick Marold, photographer Richard D’Amore, and composer Vincent Ho. In 2006, Ho used Luc’s paintings as inspiration for a chamber music composition, Four Paintings By Leestemaker. Inspired by numerous studies that showed the potentially powerful, positive effect art can have on patients’ immune systems and post-surgery recovery time, Leestemaker initiated the Healing Art Fund in September 2010 with San Diego Magazine and La Jolla’s Madison Gallery to bring healing art into public medical facilities.
In March 2012, Leestemaker was selected as a Star of Design 2012 in the art category by the Pacific Design Center. Leestemaker’s work continues to be exhibited widely throughout North America and Europe, in museums, commercial galleries, and various public spaces.
It is always painful to see a talent of Luc Leestemaker’s caliber struck down in his prime. It is even more devastating to lose a friend as caring, inspiring, admirable and delightful as Luc was. At Fabrik, we feel as if we have lost both a family member and a muse. Our efforts from here on will be made implicitly in his memory, as Luc’s presence infuses the entirety of this magazine.
Leestemaker leaves behind his companion, designer and TV producer Emily Lau.