WAH Salon Member Estelle Levy passed away on May 27

Dear WAH Salon Members and Friends,

Today, I got a couple calls and emails from the WAH Salon members, telling me of the death of Estelle Levy. They told me that they had gotten the news from Facebook.

Yes, Estelle Levy’s nephew, Ed Levy informed me yesterday that his aunt passed away on Tuesday May 27 from complications from lung cancer.

We have lost one of the long-lasting WAH Salon members and a great supporter of the WAH Center for the past 17 years. And also she was one of our dearest WAH family members!

According to Ed Levy that Estelle’s wish was to reach out to me and want to hear my advice as to what to do with her numerous artworks left in her apartment. Ed wants to make sure that her works will be kept in a good home.

After a serious consideration, Terry and I have decided the following: We well be extremely grateful for her works to be donated to the Yuko Nii Foundation and they will be kept in its permanent collection. We feel strongly that Ed wish will be fulfilled, and Estelle would be also happy to find a permanent home to which her work belongs and will be cared. Our home is the perfect place, after all she was born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and she is coming back to her “Home, Home My Sweet Old Home” in Williamsburg.

We would also like to honor her by giving her “Memorial” show in the fall, September – October together with another artist and a friend of the WAH Center, Fernando Barbot who also passed away recently. We think that Estelle’s wonderful ceramic sculpture pieces (3-D work) and Fernando’s unique paintings (2-D work) will go beautifully together in our spacious galleries. It’s a perfect show bridging man & woman, 2-D and 3-D works, an American artist and a French artist.

I would like to share with you the memory of my beloved Estelle Levy.

She called us on May 5th, telling us that she was hospitalized, being diagnosed as a lung cancer patient.  

I visited Estelle at the Lenox Hill Hospital twice during he hospitalized period for over 20 days from May 5 to May 27.

My first visit to her was on May 7: To my great delight she looked well and beautiful, and her mind was unchanged, as sharp as ever. I stayed with her about one hour talking about how she ended up in the hospital, how she spends the days at the hospital, her medications and miserable hospital food (when I showed her the variety of different flavors of Yogurt in a paper bag, she looked very happy and she showed her big smile on her face). And she also talked about the recent ceramic sculpture she created, I up-dated her about happenings at the WAH Center, which she is always interested to know about, and the current art scene in New York, and a bit of politics, of course, etc. We even laughed about the things we did in the past. We enjoyed each other’s companionship as we have always done over the past 17 years. She told me that she would return home in a few days. I kept calling her at home, her cell phone, and also her private phone at the hospital but no answer, which worried me a lot. I found out that she was still in the hospital, having been moved from one room to another, four times altogether.

My second visit to her was last Sunday, May 25. I was surprised to see her wearing an oxygen mask, sleeping soundly. Her nurse told me that I could wake her up and that she would be happy to see me. So, I reached out and softly held her cold hand, and then she opened her big eyes, showing a big surprise and smiling at me. I showed her the Yogurt in a bag, and her eyes opened widely, and she kept saying “Oh, Yuko, Yuko…” despite her difficulty to raise her voice because of the mask, but I could hear her quite well. As I didn’t want to strain her or exhaust her too much by staying there too long, I left the hospital earlier than planned. Before I left her, she said, “I love you, Yuko! Thank you! Good-bye.” and I said, “I’ll be back again to make sure that you are off the mask and in better shape! We’ll walk together! I love you, Estelle!!” We looked at each other for a long while. My tears started to come. I left the hospital, feeling that this might be the last time for me to see her.

And it was indeed, it was the last time for me to see her alive!

Estelle was not only a uniquely talented artist, she was also an extremely kind supporter of the WAH Center ever since the WAH Center was opened in late 1996. She understood the hardships I/we had to go through in establishing the not-for profit art organization, and she observed the Center’s growth very closely, and also helped us grow in many ways. She introduced us to new talents and good human beings, and recommended them to be members of the WAH Salon Art Club. She shared the joy whenever a good thing happened to the Center, which gave me enormous encouragement and genuine support so that I/we could keep going forward.

My beloved Estelle, Terry also loved her so dearly. Her intelligence, intellect and sense of humor which Terry and I appreciated, and her understanding of “absurdity in life” matched with ours. Her strong personality and unique character I valued and respected. She was wise, creative, critical, straightforward, honest, fair-minded with a sincere and warm heart. Everything about her was truly authentic! To me, her mind and heart were as big as the Sun!

The wisdom she passed on to me will stay with me forever, and furthermore, her artwork we have acquired for our permanent collection will be treasured for many years to come.

We lost our precious friend, mentor and family member, but she will be with us always, leaving the memory of her healthy laughing sound and big smiling face! One thing that made me happy was that she told me at the hospital that due to her medication, she was not suffering too much pain. She sleeps permanently “in peace,” I hope…

Her presence will be missed by all of us.

There will be no service, but we shall all share the sorrow over her death with her remaining family members…

Yuko & Terry

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