Patients are frequently surprised when they learn that Dr. Jeffrey Rosenthal is also an accomplished artist. Dr. Rosenthal replies, “Many plastic surgeons are artists; we do art every day.” He feels that performing surgery on the human body is the highest form of art, combining the science of medicine with that of art to achieve a natural result. Dr Rosenthal is a board certified plastic surgeon in Fairfield, who specializes in cosmetic surgery and is chief of the section of plastic surgery at Bridgeport Hospital. When not operating on or taking care of his patients, you can find him working in a wide range of media: painting, sculpting, carving, or taking photographs. He also lectures on the danger of drinking and driving and has toured the state with the attorney general to rail against cigarette smoking. Jeffrey began his artistic quest at the age of six when he was given the task of trimming hedges, especially two mammoth bushes that adorned the front of his family’s home on Long Island. Pruning those shrubs taught him a lot about the art of sculpting in 3-dimension and prompted him at this formative age to consider alternative ways of producing a better result. It is this attitude that still motivates and gives him satisfaction in both medicine and art. Rosenthal spent his undergraduate years at State University College, New Paltz, a college with a long tradition of fine arts majors. His biology and history majors only allowed time for a few basic art courses, but he was able to continue with his enjoyment of photography. During medical school at University Autonoma of Guadalajara, he started pen and ink drawing – in psychiatry class! Later, he took up the mediums of sculpture and clay during (rare) free time while performing his plastic surgery residency at Nassau County Medical Center, East Meadow, New York. Having spent several decades developing an eclectic and lively art style, Dr. Rosenthal held his first major exhibit, “The Chance to Dream,” in the Walsh Art Gallery at Fairfield University in August, 2002. He demonstrated the wide scope and diverse nature of his art: paintings, photography, poetry, sculptures in stone, metal and wood – even a children’s book that he wrote and illustrated. The idea for an art exhibit came about when so many of his patients wanted to see more of his work than could be displayed in his medical office. His wife Catherine’s then recent breast cancer experience lead to the idea of using the opening night as a fundraiser for the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center in Fairfield.
June 2004 marked the next date Dr. Rosenthal would have an opportunity to display his work.
“Infinite Visions” was borne out of gallery owner Marco Pelletier’s description of Jeffrey and his art. Gallerie Je Reviens, in Westport, known for its representation of French artists, was the site of Dr. Rosenthal’s photography exhibit. The first such exhibit at the gallery, Jeffrey’s photographs were combined with paintings and glicees (the spraying of ink at one million dots per inch to produce an amazingly realistic reproduction of the image, consistent with an original painting (or photograph), a process Dr. Rosenthal embraces. Again, the Norma Pfriem Breast Center was the beneficiary of the opening reception. Around that time, French artist Mogart, whose paintings are displayed in Westport’s Gallerie Je Reviens, needed a subject for her master’s thesis and found it in Jeffrey. She wrote portions of her dissertation on his artistic theories, many of which relate to his approach to plastic surgery. She found the diverse nature of his work and creativity unique, especially since he was self-taught in his art. Inspired by their experience working together, they staged a joint art showing this past summer in Fanjeaux, France, to honor the Norma Pfriem Center and to celebrate the richness both countries offer. The two artists found a natural way to bridge their countries’ division through the greater vision they share, and to this end Jeffrey bestowed a selected work to the town’s mayor in remembrance of the mutual exhibit. This fall, Dr. Rosenthal had the opportunity to once again showcase his paintings and photography – this time at a fundraiser for Hummingbirds School, in SOHO. Hummingbirds is a non-profit school for individuals with special needs offering classes in dance, yoga, music and art. Proceeds from the fundraiser, which also included performances of opera, piano and dance by Martha Graham dancers, were donated to the school. Dr. Rosenthal recently donated a glicee of a rose he grew and photographed to the American Red Cross. He is looking ahead to the possibility of having an art exhibit in England next year or wherever his art will bring pleasure. Indeed, his “infinite vision” will continue to be enjoyed by many.