Artist Ted Lewy was born in Germany in 1912. He escaped Nazi Germany and arrived in San Francisco in 1940. He worked at odd jobs, met and married his sweetheart, Edith, and fell in love with San Francisco. During WW 2, he enlisted in the Army serving as a military artist. After the war, he returned to San Francisco and created a business painting murals in restaurants and working on art commissions for clients including the Emporium Department Store in downtown San Francisco.
Lewy created his fine art in oils and watercolors. One day, a Chinese merchant who owned a gift store commissioned Lewy to create a selection of cards with scenes of San Francisco. Lewy’s watercolors were reproduced as thousands of postcards, greeting cards, and prints that hung in the Travelodge motel chain. The Travelodge management complained that although they bought more than 1000 of his prints to hang on motel room walls, the guests were always stealing them.
In the 1950s, Lewy was acknowledged as “San Francisco’s Artist Laureate.” By this time, it was estimated that he had sold more than 11 million copies of his watercolor images. He died in San Francisco in April of 1963.
Ted Lewy art courtesy of Bea and Julio Bergerman