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The Art of Polar Bears

Inspired by the connection of all creatures, Miami artist David Le Batard—whose name as an artist is “Lebo”—raised nearly $2,500 for Polar Bears International on International Polar Bear Day.

“We are honored by Lebo’s generous contribution in support of our mission to conserve polar bears and the sea ice they depend on for survival,” said Janet Stringer, PBI’s development associate. “It’s been a pleasure to work with such a talented and committed artist who has generously shared his passion for the Arctic with our organization.”

Lebo is recognized for working in a wide spectrum of creative mediums including murals, paintings, and sculptures. He is the innovator of Postmodern Cartoon Expressionism—a combination of cartoon imagery, richly saturated balances of color, and unique linear composition brought together in a narrative style to inspire emotion and create layers of meaning.

“I had learned that International Polar Bear Day was coming up and wanted to help support these magnificent creatures from deep in the heart of the tropics at my home and studio on Miami Beach,” Lebo said. “I do feel like we are all one, so whether it’s polar bears or manatees, bees, rhinos, or fellow humans, I feel it all helps foster a respect for life in general when we try to connect in positive ways.”

Lebo has not yet seen a polar bear, though he travels to Alaska and has spent time around brown bears. He said he has a deep respect for both species.

Growing up in a family that encouraged acts of service, Lebo is a natural fit for PBI.

“In my home we were brought up with the idea that we can demonstrate appreciation for our blessings by committing acts of service. We would go to nursing homes, soup kitchens, hospitals, etc., regularly to help those in need of some positive attention,” he said.

“My work in helping preserve various non-human animals survival and quality of life stems from these lessons I was fortunate enough to learn from my family.”

Polar Bears International is deeply grateful to Lebo and his wonderful team for their generous contribution to our work.

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Art on wheels. Miami-Dade buses just got a little more colorful

Miami-Dade buses just got a little groovier.

On Wednesday, the Department of Transportation and Public Works unveiled five buses fully wrapped in art pieces.

The pieces were selected out of about 100 entries in a contest dubbed Transit Loves the Arts.

David “Lebo” Le Batard on His Miami Beach Mural, Haters, and Selling Out

Artist David “Lebo” Le Batard opens the door to his studio on the tenth floor of a high-rise in Miami Beach. He towers more than six feet tall, wearing a pair of worn John Varvatos pants, a Basquiat shirt from Uniqlo, and a trucker hat designed by his own studio. Inside, the room smells of paint and is lit only by light shining through the glass door that opens to the balcony. The walls are covered with hundreds of sketches, words, and cartoon figures drawn directly on the white paint. He hunches over a large piece of glass, painting decisive black lines as he talks about his recent mural in Miami Beach, his ethos as an artist, and selling out.

“To me, art is a very solitary pursuit,” says the 43-year-old Le Batard, owner and operator of Lebo Studios. His nickname, Lebo, was his pager code as a kid, and it stuck. His work includes murals, fine-art pieces, prints, and apparel. “I work for myself. I own my own company. I hate that term ‘sellout.’ There’s no selling out.” After operating his studio for nearly 20 years, he says, his works sell for anywhere from $1,500 to $20,000.

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Books and Books rides into Wynwood with temporary ‘analog’ shop

Miami literary maestro Mitchell Kaplan has added another chapter to his Books and Books empire.

Kaplan’s new pop-up bookstore Books + Books + Bikes + LEBO, which opened last week in Wynwood, houses a cache of discounted books, used vinyl records, bicycles and art prints by Miami muralist David “LEBO” Le Batard. If there is a word to explain this uncommon collision of literature, music and two-wheelers, Kaplan says it’s “analog.”

“I’ve always had this idea of bringing a bunch of independent businesses together under one roof,” he says. “I might even sell old typewriters here at some point. We’re only selling tangible things, objects that are not digitized.”

Kaplan hatched the pop-up concept with Nico Stasi, owner of the No Boundaries Sport bicycle shop across the street from Books and Books in Coral Gables. The rest came together “organically,” Kaplan says, after both men reached out to LEBO, who painted the storefront’s facade and sells unframed prints inside.

Florida governor honors Lebo during National Hispanic Heritage Month

Park West Gallery artist David “Lebo” Le Batard invigorated Florida’s 2015 Hispanic Heritage Month with his unique style as the state’s featured artist.

Lebo was selected by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to serve as the artist for Florida’s celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated from September 15 to October 15. Lebo and his family attended a ceremony on October 6 at the governor’s mansion.

“Being chosen to be the artist to represent Hispanic Heritage Month was not only was an honor as an artist but also as a Cuban-American as well as a Floridian,” Lebo says.

According to the state’s webpage, Scott says Florida’s government recognizes the contributions of Hispanic Floridians who have enriched the state’s communities with their contributions.

This year’s theme was “Recognizing the Past, Honoring the Present and Celebrating the Future.” In honor of this theme, Lebo, a continually rising star in the art world, was named the featured artist for this year’s celebration.

First Lady Ann Scott said: “Hispanic Heritage Month is an exciting opportunity to focus on the Hispanic people and culture we value so much here in Florida. I’m honored to highlight the work of the enormously gifted Lebo, our 2015 Hispanic Heritage featured artist.”

Lebo was born to Cuban immigrant parents and raised in South Florida. Family members on his father’s side were all musicians, playing in a well-known orchestra, so that Latin music and style is engrained in his “post-modern cartoon expressionism” style.