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John Laub


Bio of John Laub from the The Fire Island Pines Historical Preservation Society:

Artist John Laub was a native of Philadelphia. His family anticipated his entry into the world of business, but he envisioned something different. While attending a small liberal arts college in Ohio, John Laub discovered who he was. He enjoyed life and wanted to find a way to express that. Although he had not committed to a career in the arts, he felt the need to follow his artistic pursuits. He sent slides of his work to the Cincinnati Arts Museum for a major exhibition they were curating. He was the only student from his school accepted; the acceptance changed his life.

John returned to Philadelphia to study art, choosing graphic design as a compromise between business and art. After graduating with honors, he applied to Yale University to work on his masters degree. A curious turn of events would seal his future. His college adviser adamantly opposed him continuing his education in the field of graphic design. He told John he should be a painter. This, of course, surprised John who had worked hard to achieve success in his chosen field. He continued to exhibit his work while trying to reach a decision about graduate school. He submitted slides to the “Silvermine Annual” show which was being judged that year by Marcia Tucker, the then curator of the Whitney Museum. He was awarded first prize in landscape painting.

His decision was made. He immersed himself in the Philadelphia art community. Over the years his work has been shown at every major gallery in Philadelphia with his market expanding to San Francisco and Washington DC. The Philadelphia gallery that represented his work urged him to move to New York as a natural progression of his already thriving vocation. John was ready for his move to New York. “I always felt like an outsider,” he said. "[Philadelphia] was a little too quiet for me.” He felt the energy and competition was better for him in New York, which contributed to his intensely active creative life.

John loved painting on Fire Island, and the Fire Island community loved his work. You would often see him and his easel nestled in a locale; the artist lost in his work. Seeing him in his element often drew a crowd. He said it surprised him that he loved to have people watch him work. He was comfortable with people watching the creative process unfold. He never analyzed his work. The paintings that interested him the most are the ones he got lost in. The creative process encompassed him so deeply that when the work was done, he found it hard to believe it was his.

Over the years, John would devote many hours to Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC). John was raised in an environment where you were expected to care for your own needs and not seek outside assistance. John amazed himself, when he rose above these codes and extended himself to the gay community. He needed to be involved. He found himself wanting to help in whatever capacity he could. After years as a counselor, John’s duties expanded to supervisory capacity. He felt the most important obligation he had working for GMHC was to communicate to other people, to help them find their answers within themselves.

John accepted his own HIV status as it advanced into AIDS and felt that his life needed to make a statement. John approached the University of Pennsylvania Science Center about having a large show of his work. Their gallery was booked with a three-week waiting list. When John explained the urgency of his request, they were quick to cut through the red tape. They arranged for a show at the start of the next season. At the same time, John decided to solicit the major galleries in New York for the possibility of a show.

When Lawrence Di Carlo from the Fischbach Gallery contacted John, it was a dream come true. Mr. Di Carlo was familiar with John’s work. Due to a change at the gallery, he was able to offer John a show for March 1996. John hit the ground running for this long awaited opportunity. He rescheduled his show at the Science Center for September 1996. He spent that entire last year engrossed in the landscapes of Fire Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Adirondack Mountains. His show at the Fischbach Gallery was very well received.

John was deeply involved in the community and donated his art to many causes. John's work lives on in so many homes in Fire Island Pines and elsewhere.

John died on March 3 at St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan. He was 57.

New York Times obituary for John Laub, March 10, 2005:

A Fire Island Benefit for Visual AIDS: Celebrate the Life and Legacy of John Laub:

To contact the estate of John Laub, please email Trish Tieger at