Michael Lieberman, an appreciation of a wonderful human, great writer and dear friend
We lost a dear friend and contributor this summer. Michael Lieberman, who wrote for Artblog from 2014 to 2021, was loved by many, including his Artblog colleagues. We miss him.
In the seven years that Michael Lieberman wrote for Artblog, I had the privilege of being his editor. Michael wrote 83 reviews for us between 2014 and 2021, remarkable work – almost one post per month, which is a big production when you have a lot of other things in your life, like Michael did. He was an omnivorous art critic and wrote about paintings, films, books, and even Miami art fairs. He was interested in everything, large and small rooms, and he brought an open-mindedness and a sharp criticality, but gentle and helpful. Michael used the words as a painter would, with passion, confidence, accuracy and flair. He was a natural and empathetic art storyteller. His writings focused on human stories and he imbued his plays with a spirit of social justice. He was persuasive without being heavy, reactive and delicate in his critical touch. And, he was a lovable writer for an editor to work with: collegiate, a team member.
Below are some quotes from Michael’s reviews on Artblog. You can read all 83 on his author pages, and I recommend you dig into the rich offerings he has provided. It was a pleasure to work with Michael. We all really miss him.
Regarding paintings, Michael was poetic. About a group of abstract caricature works, he said:
they “defy gravity – they are lively and a little drunk”.
Not everyone could have found the word “drunk” to describe the art, but the word perfectly captured the sense of whimsy that Michael found in the works and it was a bold choice.
He saw a documentary film at the BlackStar Film Fest in 2017 on Ferguson, MO after the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. About the films (which he loved for their human stories) his words were declarative and emphatic:
“I was thinking of the names – Brown and Wilson… Black and white. About the divisions between black and white communities in our country. While these divides may change as the country’s non-white population grows, “Whose Streets? Presents a profound demonstration of the unbearable and pernicious effects of racism and racial injustice on our society. When Officer Wilson made that racism-denying comment, the almost all-black audience at the BlackStar film screening I attended erupted in mockery. I wish there was a larger white contingent there to witness this.
Written by Michael and his daughter
Michael Lieberman, 72, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On July 29, 2021, Michael ended his 12-year battle with a rare, incurable form of cancer. He made his wish to see the end of our former president’s term come true, and he did so in the peace and comfort of his own home, surrounded by the love and admiration of the many lives he has had. affected during its vibrant life. Born of the late Benjamin and Ina Lieberman, his life was radiant. The impressive variety of his professional life shows us part of his remarkable journey: as a teenage lifeguard on the shores of Fire Island, as a clinical social worker after earning his Masters in Social Work at Smith College, as a clerk for the late Honorable John J. Gerry, former Chief Justice of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, as an attorney and shareholder of the former Philadelphia Law Firm known as Hangley, Aronchick Segal & Pudlin, as a gallerist in his own art gallery, Hooloon Art, in Old Philadelphia, as a writer and critic for The Art Blog and finally as member of the Rittenhouse Writer group where he wrote short fiction films. Thanks to his plethora of relationships, his impressive writings, and his deep devotion to his health and well-being, Michael lived a life of joyful vivacity. He will be remembered for his unusual and witty humor, his calming sensibility, his guiding wisdoms, his inspiring creativity, his eclectic and idiosyncratic thoughts and opinions, and his dedicated, passionate and intimately loving nature. He will be sorely missed, but let his life continue in us forever, most lovingly through his wife Judge Ashely M. Chan, through his two children, Sonia and Hannah Lieberman, through his stepchildren Simon and George Gottlieb , through Sonia and Hannah’s mother Nancy Winkleman, through his brothers Chet and Daniel Lieberman, through Daniel’s wife Michele Lieberman and their children Zach, Ruby and Dash and through the countless relationships he has forged in the process of road. In lieu of flowers or food, if you would like to make a contribution in her honor, please donate to Camphill Village Kimberton Hills through their website www.camphillkimberton.org or by cash or check to CKVH DevelopmentOffice, PO Box 1045 Kimberton , PA 19442. CKVH is a community for people with disabilities, home to Michael’s eldest daughter, Sonia. The services are private.