SWAMPSCOTT – Stephen Levin spent 42 years in the teaching profession. Now retired, the 1967 Chelsea High graduate has more time to devote to one of his favorite hobbies: photography.
And he’s becoming quite talented at his craft: Levin has been drawing acclaim for his unique looks at everyday scenes.
For the past couple of years, Levin has been hosting exhibits of his most interesting photographs and he’ll be welcoming guests to his newest show – “Abstracts: Ocean, Earth, and Sky” – at the ReachArts Gallery on Burrill Street in Swampscott. His exhibit opened earlier this month.
“I always had a camera – my father (Benjamin Levin) had one of those big, old box cameras that you looked through the bottom,” recalled Levin, who grew up on Cottage Street and attended the Shurtleff School. “Now it’s all digital photography. I use a Leica. It’s a compact camera.” Stephen’s mother was former Chelsea librarian Ceil Barron Levin.
Stephen is excited about the upcoming exhibit that will continue on Saturdays and Sundays (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), on Wednesdays (6-8 p.m.). There will be a special showing on the day after Thanksgiving. The exhibit will have a closing reception on Dec. 7 (2-4 p.m.) when Levin’s good friend, Ralph Tufo of the Squeezbox Stompers, will perform live music.
Levin’s previous exhibits have drawn numerous viewers and sales. His photos have been sold individually for $90 to $200.
“I just put some photos in the gift shop at the Gallery at LynnArts and my photo of Egg Rock off the coast of Nahant sold before it even went up on the wall – I was happy about that,” said Levin.
Levin’s solo exhibit will feature abstract photos.
“I took photos at Nahant Beach and other places – my belief is that beauty and art are everywhere,” said Levin. “You can always find color, texture, shape that make art.”
Levin is also giving back to his community through his photo exhibits. “I donate a portion of the proceeds to the Children’s Hospital,” said Levin.
He is humbled by the praise he has been receiving from other photographers for his works.
“People tell me I have a good eye for photography,” said Levin, noting that one of his most popular photographs was one of his dog, Bella, a Chocolate Labrador. “I sold a picture of aprons from Lewes, Delaware.”
Levin said he has fond memories of his days at Shurtleff and Chelsea High School and credits his art teachers for inspiring his lifelong affinity for art and now, photography.
“I always think of my art teachers from Chelsea, Miss Whiting, who used to visit all the elementary schools,” said Levin. “She picked one of my drawings to be in a children’s exhibit at the Chelsea Public Library. She always encouraged my art. Mr. (Barry) Poretsky was my art teacher at Shurtleff. In college (Salem State), my mentor was Vito Sammartano.”
Asked about whether he has thoughts of launching a new career as a professional photographer, Levin replied, “I’m just pursuing photography because it’s something that I enjoy doing – and people seem to respond to it.”
By Cary Shuman / This article originally appeared in the Chelsea Record.