Sylvia Landau has a Floral Park apartment filled with her own artworks, especially sassy handmade dolls. Not pretty dolls.
“Dolls with attitude,” Landau explains. “I’m not making pretty dolls because they’re not fun. It’s much more fun to make crazy dolls.”
Her favorite crazy doll is an acrobat with ample meat and muscle.
“I love her fat thighs,” Landau said. She liked the acrobat so much, she decided after a time to create an acrobat friend for her. The two now gambol on the entry hall wall of the apartment she shares with her husband, Herb, eyeing visitors as they leave the entry hall, which is stocked full of her creations, and enter the main living area, also fully filled with sculptures, dolls and more.
Landau showed one of her titled works, “Are You Shopping or Just Looking?”, which won a prize from the NY Artist Craftsmen of New York a decade or so ago. The sales lady doll’s posture signals that the customer has been taking up too much time.
Like many creative people, Landau doesn’t remember a distinct moment of deciding to “be” an artist. Making art is something she has always done.
The resident of North Shore Towers remembers constantly creating as a child and then as a teen. “When we didn’t have dates on Saturday nights, we did sewing,” Landau said.
She also sewed as a young married mother, making drapes and slipcovers.
“Nobody has ever stopped me. They just let me go,” Landau said.
And “go” she has, through a variety of media and classes at a number of adult education venues and colleges, including Queensborough Community College in Bayside.
Her adult inspiration crystallized in formal enameling classes with artist Felicia Liban at the Samuel Field Y many years ago.
The dolls are mixed-media pieces that use wire, cloth, beads and purchased craft supplies including yarn and buttons.
For a recent project, Landau’s daughter drove her to the “Art Is” event in Stamford, Conn. The class required substantial preparation beforehand and resulted in a pair of standing dolls titled “Elderly Hiking Couple.”
Landau has also been working with a new material, paper clay, which dries hard like clay but can be moistened and re-formed.
Landau considers herself a personal artist, not a careerist. She has sold a few items over the years, particularly jewelry, in part because she made so much of it. Her apartment appears almost full, but not crowded, with her art, and she harbors a mild worry that perhaps some of it should go.
“I almost can’t part with it. But there’s so much here that I almost have to part with it,” she said,
She also finds it difficult to give creations to loved ones, though she has occasionally intentionally created objects for certain people.
“I’m not very free with it. It takes so long and it’s so labor intensive,” Landau said.
Landau has a relationship with her art and has given it a home. “The dolls were the best thing, although I just went back to the jewelry again …” she said.