Eli Levin: Social Realism and the Harwood Suite is a set of twenty-two prints reflecting, in true Levin style, the Northern New Mexico personality.
Born in 1938 in Chicago, Levin attended the Diploma, Music and Art High School in New York City. In 1961, after receiving his B.A. in Literature at New York's New School for Social Research, Levin moved to Boston. In 1964 Eli Levin moved to New Mexico. When he arrived in Santa Fe, the old art colony had all but disappeared, but Levin became friends with Louie Ewing and Arthur Haddock - who made him feel as though he were a contiguous part of the New Mexico tradition. Levin briefly attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1965 to finish his M.A. in Art. In 1991 Levin returned to school to get an M.A. in Humanities at St. John’s College in Santa Fe. In 1993 Eli Levin changed his name to Jo Basiste, after his paternal grandfather. At this time he abandoned his bar scenes and started painting mythological subject matter. From 1985 to the present, Levin has held an etching workshop at his studio.
According to Levin, “By the early 1970s, an active bohemian colony had developed in Santa Fe and it became a cultural boom town. The number of art galleries went from two to a hundred. Besides the Santa Fe Opera, there came into being endless festivals: for art, music, literature, theater, movies, fashion, and the crafts of Indians and Spanish Americans. The city's complex heritage of three interlocked cultures became ‘Santa Fe Style.’" But the fifteen years between 1964 and 1980 held a special magic. Eli Levin experienced it all: "... the fading generation of older artists and the newly arriving younger generation; wild night life at Claude's Bar; artists’ battles with conservative arts organizations; questionable successes and tragic failure of careers; exemplary examples of lifetime dedication; and a number of suppressed scandals, one even involving possible murders”.