In St. Augustine, photographers and visual artists abound. We got the chance to speak with Lenny Foster, St. Augustine’s latest exceptional talent, about getting started, finding inspiration in a new city, and his gallery, Gallery One Forty Four.
Check out the Gallery One Forty Four website or stop by to see Lenny Foster’s photography series Where We Stand – Powerful, poignant and inspired by St. Augustine’s deep roots in Black history.
Q: Tell us about your artistic style, themes and inspiration. How have they shifted over the last twenty years?
A: I believe my artistic style has not necessarily changed over the years, but, because of repetition and experience, it has certainly evolved. I’d like to think in each and every body of work, Spirit, beauty and love is present. That’s what I look for and try to reveal in my imagery. Geography, seasons of the year, and social and spiritual revelations also influence where my focus is at a particular time. Much like artists I admire, my work is varied and I am typically working on several bodies of work simultaneously. There is always something inspiring me and the phenomenon of a creative block rarely happens. Of course, since moving to St. Augustine in 2017, some of the subject matter has shifted, so my unique and Spiritual vision has a different palette to work with.
Q: How did you start making art? Why do you make art?
A: I started creating pictures in 1991 as a result of trying to reduce stress in my life and the effects of working long hours in a high-pressured sales management position at an automobile dealership. As a newly sober man (5 years at the time), there was a need to fill my time with healthier outlets! Twenty-nine years later, creating images still serves me in living a lower stress lifestyle, and has allowed me to support myself solely on my photography for more than a couple of decades. It is certainly a beautiful way to make a living and a beautiful way to live.
Q: As a new resident of St. Augustine, what is your impression of the art, history and culture here?
A: Before moving to St. Augustine, I knew next to nothing about its history, culture and art, but I am thoroughly enjoying this time of discovery. St. Augustine is rich in those three areas and I sense I will experience an endless amount of inspiration. I am fascinated by it all, and that fascination has been channeled into three prominent bodies of work; Street Saints, the Where We Stand series and Magnolia Season.
Q: What role does an artist have in a city’s culture?
A: I believe an artist’s primary role is to be true to his or herself and the work, and by doing so will fulfill their role in the community and add to the identity of the community and culture.
Q: Tell us about your new space, Gallery One Forty Four. What can visitors expect to find and experience there?
In September, my gallery, Gallery One Forty Four, celebrates its third year on King Street. The gallery is the perfect setting for extraordinary work. A good representative of my Seascape series, Healing Hands collection, First City images, Where We Stand series, Street Saints body of work can be seen here. It’s an eclectic collection of limited editions of fine art photography for the discerning collector. This visitor-friendly gallery is a comfortable environment for everyone from the visitor and novice to the seasoned collector.