Mike Kantor: Giving back to the JCC through art

by | Jan 28, 2013 | What’s Happening

Opening reception: Sunday, Feb. 10, 3–6 p.m.

The Mike Kantor who worked in Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan after he graduated from college could hardly have pictured himself as an aspiring artist in his 60s. But that is how Kantor identifies himself these days, producing 40 pieces in the past 18 months, the proceeds of which he is donating to the Simon Family JCC.

A showing of Kantor’s work, entitled “Absence of the Conscious,” will be exhibited at the Leon Art Gallery during February and March, with an opening reception on Sunday, Feb. 10.

After his retail stint in New York, Kantor received his masters in counseling and worked in North Carolina before returning to Tidewater to work for his family’s business, Broudy-Kantor. Along the way, he spent any free time he could in art museums, and added to his growing collection of art books, now estimated at a total of 600.

But he couldn’t even draw a stick figure. “I knew art, but I simply couldn’t implement it,” he says. After he retired, Kantor took some drawing and painting lessons from local artist Norman Goodman. Two years ago, he traveled to Italy, Spain and France, taking in every art museum he possibly could.

When he returned, Kantor began taking lessons with Suzanne Stevens, who simply told him to “pour it all out.” The result is a plethora of vibrant colors and images within images, a free flow of vivid exploration and imagination.

As a member of the JCC for 13 years, Kantor wants to donate the proceeds of his artwork to the JCC. His father, Buddy, was one of the founding members of the Norfolk JCC, and taught his son to give back generously. “This is my contribution. My way of giving back is through my art.”