Lisbeth Firmin is a contemporary American realist whose paintings and monotypes explore the relationship between people and their urban environment, while simultaneously capturing the energy and light of a specific moment in time. Her urban landscapes, following in the tradition of earlier realists such as John Sloan, George Bellows, and Edward Hopper, depict a feeling of human solitude, of people headed somewhere undisclosed. She is not interested in producing a literal translation of her subject matter, but aims instead to ride the line between abstraction and realism, letting the viewer provide the final interpretation.
Firmin has been painting since childhood, and studied independently with printmaker Seong Moy, and painters Philip Malicoat, Victor Candell, and Leo Manso in Provincetown in the early 70’s. Her art has expanded from early depictions of lonely highways done from solitary road trips, to painting the neighborhoods and street scenes surrounding her downtown New York City apartment, where she lived for more than 25 years. Firmin’s work evolved further after a move to upstate New York in 2000, as the figure, instead of the landscape, gradually became the focal point of her paintings. For the last four decades her work has been in hundreds of solo and group shows in this country and abroad.
Firmin has been the recipient of many grants and fellowships, including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for Printmaking (Lily Auchincloss Fellow), a Community Arts Funding Grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, and full fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, National Seashore Cape Cod Dune Shack Residency, Vermont Studio School, and Saltonstall Arts Colony.
Recent exhibitions include “Lisbeth Firmin, Working the Light,” a solo show of monoprints at the Roxbury Arts Group, Roxbury, NY (2015), “Reflections,” a solo show featuring 12 new paintings at the Rice-Polak Gallery in Provincetown, MA ( 2014); “Moments in Time,” a solo retrospective at the Martin-Mullen Fine Arts Gallery at SUNY Oneonta (2013); and “Coming Home,” a solo show at the Tides Institute and Museum of Art, in Eastport, ME (2013). Several monoprints were included in the 2013 “63rd Exhibition of Central New York Artists” at the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY (where her work is now in the permanent collection), and in the “2013 Artists of the Mohawk/Hudson Region Exhibition,” Hyde Collection, Glenns Falls, NY. Her work appeared in the Hofstra University’s 50th Anniversary Exhibition, “The Lyon, The Which, and the Warhol.” Firmin was the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Taft School in Watertown, CT in 2011. An upcoming show at the Rice-Polak Gallery, “Painting Light,” is scheduled for 2016.
Firmin’s paintings and prints are found in several public collections including the New York Historical Society, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA, Fleming Museum, Burlington, VT, Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, NY, The Tides Institute & Museum of Art, Eastport, ME, University of Texas, Cape Cod Museum, and Hofstra University. Her work is part of the corporate collections of Pfizer, Meditech Corporation, Thomson Reuters, Bankers Trust, Odyssey, Fidelity Investments, Cablevision, and Zurich Insurance. Private collectors include Philip Glass, M. Night Shayamalan, Roz Chast, Robert Rothchild, Jack Beal and Sondra Freckelton, and Tom Morgan and Erna Mc Reynolds.
Her work has been written about in The New York Times, Provincetown Arts, The Boston Globe, Constellation 617, Provincetown Arts, Arts Magazine, American Art Collector, and numerous other publications.
Firmin teaches painting/printmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston Salem, NC and at the Truro Center for the Arts, Castle Hill, Cape Cod, MA.
She is represented primarily by the Rice-Polak Gallery in Provincetown, MA. For more information see: Rice Polak Gallery
An in depth interview on her creative journey can be found at: CONSTELLATION617