Weston sculptor Stanley Bleifeld produced a substantial body of work, from a piece for the Vatican Pavilion at the 1964 Worlds Fair to Lone Sailor near the U.S. Capitol. Bleifeld died March 21 at the age of 86.
A figurative sculptor, he built his house in Weston in the 1960s with his wife, Naomi "Nicky" Bleifeld. He later built a studio on his property in the design of a chapel.
There are about 300 sculptures catalogued, Naomi Bleifeld said of her husbands works, which can be found in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., and, most recently, at the Civil Rights Memorial in Richmond, Va.
"Growing up in Weston, it was always a little embarrassing having a father who was different," said Bleifeld's daughter, Becky Bleifeld Black. "I felt different, but as I got older, I realized how special he was."
A sculpture of a magic carpet carrying a 3-year-old Becky hangs in the Weston Public Library. "Any child of an artist knows you're constantly pulled in to model," said Black. Other works are displayed in galleries in Southport and New Mexico, as well as at Knights of Columbus headquarters in New Haven.
Bleifeld met his wife during the summer of 1949 at a camp in the Catskills. "We met at the beginning of the summer and were married at the end in early September," said Naomi Bleifeld. "I was 20 and he was 25."
They were married for 61 years. During World War II, Bleifeld was in the Navy and wanted to be in submarines. But when it was apparent that he was an artist, he was assignment to make drawings of the equipment instead, Naomi said.
The couple moved to Weston in 1950 when Stanley was offered a job as an art teacher. "He was a very compassionate man. He was a wonderful teacher and always encouraged his students," said Naomi. "Stanley was always open and willing and ready to talk to students. Anyone could come to him to ask for criticism or help. He was always ready to share his knowledge."
He was a painter at the time. In 1960, Naomi and Stanley made their first trip to Europe. A friend in Italy who was a sculptor said to Stanley, "Come on, give it a try," said Naomi.
"He worked in wax he just took to it," said Naomi. "He went to sculpture and he never turned back and we started to go to Italy every summer."
Bleifeld was not a religious person, but his first sculptures were of stories from the Bible. He then sculpted people working at a foundry in Italy, a butcher and a baker, kids and landscapes.
"He always felt that sculpture had to have meaning. It didn't matter if it was the same meaning between people, but the sculpture had to say something to you," said Naomi.
His first commissioned piece was The Prophets, sayings from the Old Testament for the Vatican Pavilion at the Worlds Fair in Queens, N.Y.
"He was interested in things in general. He was always reading and was well informed. He loved to play tennis. His greatest joy was being in Italy," said Naomi.
After visiting for many summers, the Bleifeld's bought a house in Pietrasana, Italy, and went there each summer. A memorial service will be held in Pietrasana this summer.
There will also be a memorial service April 15 at 2 p.m. in the Unitarian Church in Westport.
In addition to his wife and his daughter Becky, Stanley leaves a daughter Emily Bleifeld and six grandchildren.
What memories do you have of Stanley Bleifeld? Leave your comments below.
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