Reviews of Dr. Rosenthal’s Art
Download article by Jim Leonardo
The seeds of art
Interview for Plastic Surgery News
Jeffrey Rosenthal, MD, Fairfield, Conn. Chief of Plastic Surgery at Bridgeport Hospital, always marched to the beat of his own drum, creating things that were beyond the ken of his then-young classmates.
“I recall that in social studies class I had a project that involved the explorers Lewis and Clark. I made a big relief map instead of just a drawing,” he recalls. “ Later, in biology class, I drew a picture of the human body, which always fascinated me, and used a pump and plastic tubing to show how fluid coursed through the veins. In another course, I made an incandescent bulb out of a glass jar, wire and transformer.”
“I really enjoyed black-and–white photography and then developing and printing the images in a inspired way, while in college. In medical school, I decided that I wanted to learn how to draw with pen and ink, so I bought pen and paper. During one psychiatry class I was drawing an Oriental couple with an umbrella. The instructor walked by, looked at it and smiled. He didn’t bother me about it, I was lucky it was a psych. professor,’ Dr. Rosenthal says.
“ I was always creative in doing things, but not in the standardized prosaic form of art such as drawing, painting or creating music. Even in my earlier years, I remember sitting for hours, creating things with blocks, just designing, and using my imagination kept me enthralled,” he adds.
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Dr. Rosenthal is a self-trained artist, author and poet who feels his lack of formal training works in his favor. “I’m not conversant with all the theories and standard methods of art, so I have no limitations on what I can or can’t do; I have no boundaries.” he maintains.
Therefore, his choice of media is as limitless as his imagination. “ I pick up leaves, stems and flowers that strike my eye, and I will paint with them, make impressions on canvas or paper,” he says.
“I once went to an art store and saw acrylic paste and asked, “ What happens if I mix the paste with paint?” I bought it and mixed it up, the result being a medium that was almost like using oil paint: there’s a thickness and texture to it that I use for layering. It’s like having a three-dimensional painting on my walls. I now use the mixture often and even pipe it out, like a baker decorating a cake.”
Art and Plastic Surgery
Dr. Rosenthal finds that the challenges of art are somewhat similar to other challenges he faces in life, including plastic surgery. “ I love the process of creating and of thinking how I’m going to get something done. I have always been of the ilk that if I set my mind to it, I can accomplish it. Even if I don’t know how to do it now, that doesn’t mean that in a week, month or year’s time, I won’t come up with the answer on how to do it.”
“ My artistry is not limited to canvas or a hunk of clay,” Dr. Rosenthal adds. “It’s all in how I view my surroundings, and since I’m uninhibited in my thought process, I can just pick anything up and think, “ why can’t I do this?”
I N F I N I T E V I S I O N S
An exhibit of Dr. Jeffrey Rosenthal’s Paintings, Prints and Photography. Download the invitation >
“That’s how I approach the art of plastic surgery. All of my procedures are tailored to compliment my patients’ individual needs. I’m using multi-dimensionality when I’m working in clay, wood and stone; when you make a cut in the latter two, you can’t go back again; it’s finished. So you have to contemplate each move four or five times in advance of the first. That’s the way I perform my surgery: I plan it, run through each phase repeatedly and then execute the operation, knowing what I’ll be doing several steps beyond the one I just completed,” he says.
“ My patients see my art hanging in my office,” Dr. Rosenthal notes,” often they either wish to see additional art pieces or purchase one of them. But I tell them, the only art I ever “sell” is when I “sculpt” upon one my patients.” “To me, working on the human body is really the highest form of art I know”. My art is all unique, each piece is very personal to me, so I couldn’t bear to part with it.” I give away so few things because each piece has a special meaning to me. An exception being a broach I designed and a painting of flowers that I made for my wife Catherine; so she can always have a fresh bouquet at hand. She also has a suede sports coat that I designed and had finished in Mexico,” Dr. Rosenthal explains.
“If I weren’t a Plastic Surgeon, I wouldn’t be a physician”, notes Dr. Rosenthal, whose children’s books, paintings, masks, sculptures and photographs have been the focus of many art shows. “There’s no other field in medicine that would allow me to create, be artistic and inventive. I approach things from many vantage points, I like to reflect a lot, which allows me to care for my patients in a caring and thoughtful manner.”
“I am really amazed when someone says you cannot do something. There is always a way to accomplish your goals,” Dr. Rosenthal believes. “ You just have to find the right path in order to reach that end point”. “ It is do-able.”
Fairfield University Walsh Art Gallery
August 10-24, 2002
An art showing is a celebration of life and all the various nuances that give meaning to the newly formed day. There has never been an attempt to copy nature in all its splendor, rather sights, sound, textures and images, which lie but a hairs breath from our finger tips, has been harvested into an eclectic array of painting, drawing, sculptors and writings over the past 51 years.
There are many advantages to being a self-taught artist; the normal constraints that shackle and bind the imagination are not in place. Artistic freedom is experiencing the entire process from start to finish. A glimmer of light enters my consciousness mind, I revile in the thought of what I will do with this small ray of light.
Mixing a rainbow of colors to create a vibrant bouquet is allowable and even desirable. Painting with leaves, flower petals, stems, rocks, string and whatever I found on the day of my sojourn enabled nature to play an integral role in my art. There is a beginning to the artistic process but never a definitive end.
Likewise, who would have thought that decorating a wedding cake would open untold creativity venues, allowing me to embolden flowers or make a mane of hair for Sam, the ever-watchful lion.
Techniques seem to blossom from one other. The copper armature, for the 75-pound lion, became the base for a mosaic ceramic and copper coffee table, which morphed into a bar. So too, did my drawing and painting skills change with time and experience; but does not everything become clearer with the passage of time.
How does Plastic Surgery find its way into an art gallery? There can be no higher form of art than to work on the human body. One must harness similar powers of thought, conceptualization and execution be it when sculpting a face on a beautiful living soul or when creating a facsimile of life in clay, stone or wood.
The various mediums that I work in serve me well during my surgical endeavors.
Eyes must see tiny variations, hands are taught to execute the wishes of ones mind and artistic creativity is part of all that I touch. To this end the shear exhilaration of the end result engenders a delight and thrill that makes my dedication worthwhile.
There is joy in creating. From the moment the concept enters my conscious mind until it has become a tangible object d’ art. Most of the art you see required a forward thinking process. If it could be imagined, then I knew it could be accomplished perhaps not this day or next but surely tomorrow.
I am hopeful that you will be moved by some piece of art and this bit of essence will be nurtured so that some day you too, will feel the joy of following your dreams.
Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, M.D.
Read about the
R O S E N T H A L Art 2002
Walsh Art Gallery