Joe Lewis

joe lewis, 62, artist

The 20,000-Hour Rule

Before Banksy and Shepard Fairey could command hundreds of thousands of dollars for their work, street art was far too low-brow for the rarefied tastes of the art market. And Joe Lewis couldn’t get enough of it.

Together with friends, the conceptual artist opened up Fashion Moda in 1978. The South Bronx gallery spotlighted Kenny Scharf and Keith Haring and graffiti artists dominating the New York cityscape, like Daze and Koor. “We were making art because we had to do this,” says Lewis. “We didn’t think it was going to take us someplace.”

Koor ended up having a painting in the Museum of Modern Art two years later, says Lewis. Scharf has had a successful career in his own right. And Haring’s legacy is far-reaching, including a piece on the Berlin Wall.

As for Lewis? He recently stepped back from his position as dean of the UC Irvine Art School to create more. “I’m not going to be a rock musician — which is what I’ve always wanted to be — but I do write, and I do work,” he told me. “And I have a lot of things I’ve always thought about, and been in a lot of shows. Now I have the opportunity to just focus on that. It’s exciting. It’s exhilarating.”

Yes, he wanted to spend more time with his teenage son and 11-year-old daughter. But he also felt time ticking. He’d begun lifting again and working on core strength to keep in shape, but he wanted to make sure his mind was agile as well. He wasn’t interested in repeating the mistakes of his father and others in his generation. It’s an AGEIST theme: do it now or never.

“They didn’t take that experience they had and do something else with it,” he says. “I’m an artist. I believe that great art is made from experience. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a fabulous piece when you’re 21, but it takes you 40 years to learn how to paint, and takes you 40 years how to learn to be a photographer…To really know everything to know about what you’re doing. This 10,000-hours thing? I think it’s 20,000 hours, personally.”

He’s also starting to downsize. A few weeks ago, he turned in his BMW (and really misses that sound system) and were his son not in high school, he and his wife would probably be somewhere more urban. But for now he’s traveling a lot more. He recently came back from a trip to Iceland, where he was sketching. He’s also got this wild idea to produce a fragrance — Black Out — an idea born when he saw Britney Spears had one. “I thought, ‘Shit, all of these stars have a perfume’,” he says. “ ‘Why don’t I have a one?’ ”

Indeed. Why shouldn’t Joe have one?

 “I look at it from day to day,” he says. “I make plans, I have things I’d like to do. I don’t put very much weight on being 62.”


See medical disclaimer below. ↓

The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.


Andreas Tzortzis
He has worked as a journalist for the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Newsweek and Monocle Magazine from Berlin and London before leading Red Bull’s mainstream-facing content platform, The Red Bulletin, from Los Angeles. He recently returned to his hometown of San Francisco with his small family. dre@agei.st


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