BY MICHELE HERRMANN
Plastic surgery and art go hand in hand for Dr. Jeffrey Rosenthal. As a plastic surgeon, he compares the steadiness and precision required in his profession to a sculptor carefully carving a piece of stone or metal into a finished masterpiece. “Once you make a cut you can’t go back,” Rosenthal said. “You have to plan ahead and conceptualize what you want.” Describing himself as a self-taught artist, Rosenthal has extended his creative merits beyond using carving tools. Along with sculpturing in metal, copper or stone, he paints, writes poetry, takes photographs and even mats and frames his paintings and pictures.
“I guess it’s a little obsessive, but it’s my art and I want it to be representative of me,” Rosenthal said. His work graces the interior of his Kings Highway Cutoff office. His pieces have been displayed at public venues too, such as Fairfield University’s Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery, in August 2002, and Gallerie Je Reviens in Westport, in June 2004, and overseas at a gallery in Fanjeaux, France, with French artist Mogart, also during last year. A sample of his paintings and photography will be on view and available for purchase starting this Friday, Oct. 7, and continuing through Friday, Dec. 30 at the Discovery Museum, 4450 Park Ave., Bridgeport.
The public is welcome to an opening benefit reception Friday, Oct. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the museum. A portion of the art proceeds will be donated to the museum and the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center. Rosenthal decided to show his art publicly after his patients said they wanted to see more of his work than what could be displayed in his office. All of his public exhibitions have aided and acknowledged the center, to which Rosenthal has a personnel connection. A close family relative, who has diagnosed with breast cancer, received treatment there. He added that he also wants other women to learn about the center.
“I saw how nurturing and caring the center was for women, who were in need of that, at that time in their lives, when [they] are going through chemotherapy,” said Rosenthal. “The people who work there are caring and giving. I have always been appreciative of what they did and I want to give back to them.” Rosenthal had been in talks with the Discovery Museum about showing his art there, according to the museum’s Executive Director Linda Malkin. The late Norma F. Pfriem, whom the Breast Care Center is named after, was a museum trustee who funded the addition of a food court and donated money to help to finish the completion of the museum’s kitchen-catering facility, according to Malkin.
This exhibit marks the first time that Rosenthal will have his art for sale, a tough decision for him to make. Rosenthal said he prefers not to sell his originals “because they are one of a kind,” he noted, but added that the choice to do so resulted from his home and office becoming inundated with artwork. Along with paintings and photographs, glicees will be on display. Glicees are similar to images that are reproduced, realistically, by an ink jet. When asked if any medium is his favorite, Rosenthal said his interests go from one to the other. The time he devotes to his artwork could depend on his practice and his schedule.
“Right now, I’m doing a lot of photography because I have the ability to crop and edit my photos and have them reproduced,” he said. Inspiration can vary, depending on where Rosenthal is. With photography, he said takes his camera when he travels. “I’m motivated to take pictures of people sitting or smiling or colorful scenes.” With painting, he said he might be looking at a structure and “making some notes” and then making a rendering of what he would paint. Sculpturing heads or busts is like a cakewalk, since he is knowledgeable about human anatomy.
“I love to create. The creativity is what I get a joy out of,” Rosenthal said. “During the hours that I am working on my art, I am lost in that sea of creativity. I loose all track of time.” Rosenthal’s interest in art began early, at the age of 6 to be exact, when he was given the task of trimming hedges in the front of his family’s Long Island home. Perhaps it may have been his first taste for sculpture, no doubt. During his undergraduate years at New York State University College, New Paltz, where he majored in biology and history, Rosenthal said he was unable to enroll in art classes originally because he wasn’t majoring in the subject. In his senior year, he managed to sign up for a class in printing black and white photography.
While in New Paltz, he also had the chance to make pottery and stoneware. He was able to carry out more art while attending medical school at the University Autonoma of Guadalajara, taking up pen and ink drawing. He continued his art, during his free time while in his plastic surgery residency at Nassau County Medical Center in East Meadow, N.Y. Rosenthal, who has been practicing in Fairfield for more than 20 years, is chief of plastic surgery at Bridgeport Hospital. For more information about Rosenthal’s exhibit at the Discovery Museum, contact the museum at 372-3521.