LOHMAN--J. Frederic. Known to friends and family as Fritz, was born in Fort Wayne, IN in 1922. He graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, OH and received his design training at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. After college he went to California where he worked as a set designer for Paramount Pictures and, with the advent of television, with the Dumont Corporation in the same capacity. He then came to New York as assistant decorating department manager of James McCreary & Sons, and later became an associate director of The Bertha Schaefer Art Gallery. In 1951, he established his own interior design firm, J. Frederic Lohman, Ltd., at 451 East 58 Street. Throughout a hugely successful career Fritz lent his design talents to both residential and corporate interiors. Notable on his long list of achievements was Wedgewood House, The Forum (high-rise NYC apartment buildings), the lobbies of The Criterion and The Bergen Mall theaters, the model houses for Reston, VA (Model Community of the Future) near Washington, DC, and the administrative center for Global Foods. Apart from his virtually innumerable residential and corporate environments in New York City and across America, his residential interiors are to be found in London, Vienna, Montreal, Geneva, Jamaica and Lagos, Nigeria. He created settings for UniRoyal, Dupont, and the American Cyanamid Company, and designed several of "The Ten Best Dressed Rooms" at The National Design Center. His American Standard bathrooms and many other promotional settings were regularly seen in national magazines. His atelier catered to a prestigious clientele which included Barbara Walters and the late French couturier, Jacques Fath, among others. Some years before he retired from design, closing his offices in 1984, he and his life partner, Charles Leslie, who he met in 1968, had established a small real estate holding company to acquire and restore neglected SoHo industrial buildings and to convert them for artists' housing. This was in 1969, the same year they mounted their first exhibition of homoerotic art in their SoHo loft. The better part of the next ten years embroiled them in battles with the city to change the zoning in SoHo--The Planning Commission was initially opposed--and to obtain landmark status for The SoHo Cast Iron Historic District from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Along with others, Fritz was crucially instrumental in achieving both goals. In the 1970s, the couple became involved in the theater, producing several off and off-off-Broadway shows which included "Naked Highway" by Matt Creeger, a spoof based on old movies such as "The Petrified Forest" and "Duel in the Sun", which had a good run at the 7th Ave Playhouse; "Men, Women & Why It Won't Work" by Miriam Fond; and, most notably, "Purification", the only blank verse drama by Tennessee Williams, which had never before been produced. Williams, who was in the audience, praised the production. Although he continued to do work for old friends and clients long after he officially retired, his last major undertaking before that time was the restorative design and complete redecoration of the grand ballroom, the gold room, the hunt room, and the study of the 110-room Vanderbilt mansion, Idle Hour, as Oakdale, Long Island. The mansion belongs to Dowling College and is used for public, administrative and ceremonial functions. Inveterate travelers, Fritz and Charles covered the globe more than once and spent great blocks of time in Asia, Africa and--particularly--in Europe and Morocco. Continuously active in their support of gay causes and organizations (SAGE, The Center, Lambda Legal Defense, etc.) they founded The Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation in 1990 to encourage the creation of and to protect art that is perceived to be gay and therefore endangered by societal prejudice. Fritz took great joy in their large extended family and the three little goddaughters they are putting through school, and the big goddaughter who has her MFA and is pursuing a successful career as an artist. His life was also enriched by their three homes--their New York loft, their country house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and a beautiful, ancient Arab house in the medina of Marrakech in Morocco. Apart from Mr. Leslie, family survivors include five nephews, two nieces and their families. In lieu of other remembrances, it is asked that expressions of sympathy be sent to the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation (LLGAF) referencing the Fritz Lohman Museum Fund. As the co-founder of LLGAF, Fritz's name will now grace a new fund dedicated to the next significant growth phase--the establishment of The Leslie/Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art. Checks (payable to LLGAF) may be sent to: LLGAF, 26 Wooster Street, NY, NY 10013, Attn: Fritz Lohman Museum Fund.
Published in New York Times on Jan. 17, 2010.