Photo of Dr David Hleap

About the Artist
David Hleap was born in Russia in 1930 and prior to WWII, emigrated together with his parents and younger sister, to Colombia, South America when he was 5. He was raised in Cali, Colombia and put himself through Medical School by working as a Medical Illustrator. His early works were published in various medical books and journals, and thus began his love and passion for both professions: Medicine and Art. Although a brilliant doctor, some say his true love was art. He applied art in everything he did in life including medicine.

In the coastal town of Barranquilla, Colombia, Hleap became a well respected and accomplished Doctor. One of his passions in life was charitable work offering his medical services and prescriptions free of charge to the local peoples of poor rural towns of Colombia, like La Guahira & Poponte. He also served as the 1st President of the Kiwanis Club of Colombia for many years.

In 1972 he immigrated to Sandy Springs, Georgia with his wife and 4 kids in search of the “American Dream.” He became a full-time Medical Doctor in the town of Cumming, GA, and practiced General Medicine, Surgery and Gynecology in Cumming for over 30 years, until he retired to Florida in 2004.

His patients marveled that his office on Mary Alice Pkwy in Cumming was not only a medical building, but also a museum of art, with over 200 paintings displayed throughout the patient rooms. Hleap did not like to rush his patients and often sent them home with a personal drawing of their organs to study and better understand to help them heal. Hleap was a strong believer in the power of the mind for healing, and often used visual imagery and hypnotherapy on his patients. As a result, his surgery patients often benefited from a faster than average recovery rate. He was ahead of his time with a Holistic (whole person) approach.

Hleap used over 10 mediums in his artistic impression including Oils, Acrylics, Watercolors, Pen & Ink, and Miniature Wood Carvings, and is most remembered for his impressionistic and cubist styles and mastery of water and reflections. One of his favorite works was the “Orchestra” where he recreated the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra by assembling 105 miniature wood carvings, each one depicting a different musician and instrument in the Orchestra. The Orchestra measured approximately 5 feet in circumference and was a true masterpiece. It was displayed in various cities and in 1987 won the “Best of Show” award in San Antonio at the juried competition conducted by The American Physicians Art Association (APAA), to which Hleap was a member. Hleap won 10 “First Place” and 2 “Best of Show” awards in juried competitions, and exhibited his paintings in various cities including New York, Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando, San Antonio and Baltimore.

It is estimated that Hleap produced over 2,000 pieces of art in his lifetime. He was well known for making a painting out of a memory and pleasantly surprised many with his gift of a painting depicting a portrait or recent casual encounter or place of interest. Hleap did not like to sell his art; he preferred to give it away.

Hleap suffered from Type 2 Diabetes the second half of his life and in the late 1990’s lost over 80% of his vision. Nonetheless, he continued to paint until 2005, and ironically in his later years his mastery of colors improved. It is believed that this came about because Hleap needed to intensify the colors in his art in order for himself to better see what he was drawing. He died in Florida in 2007 from complications of Diabetes.

The “Art Wall” at Fuego Mundo displays a few of his works as a tribute to his Name, and as a kick-off to our rotating local South American artist exhibit at Fuego Mundo.

Masha Hleap - Hershkovitz, 2009

Footnote by John
Dr Hleap was my doctor for a number of years while I was holding antique auctions in Cumming, GA. As such I often admired the art that was displayed on the walls of his office. However he was much more than just a doctor to me he was my friend! When I noticed a number of his paintings included in the inventory of Cottonwood Villiage Antiques. I knew I wanted to do my best to highlight his artwork. Realizing that many people in the Cumming, Georgia area would love to own one of his paintings. Especially the patients that came to know him as I had.

As I started my quest to learn more about Dr David Hleap and his paintings. I assumed that there would be very limited information on the web. I was correct as about the only mention I could find was related to his medical pratice on Mary Alice Pkwy. However I finally located a blog that mentioned the doctor's work being displayed at FuegoMundo in Sandy Springs, Georgia. I was quite surprised to find that FuegoMundo is owned by Dr Hleap's daughter. After emailing Masha Hleap - Hershkovitz she graciously shared the above information about her father which is on display at FuegoMundo along with a number of his paintings.

I received the following email from Masha Hleap. Which conveys much better than I what Dr Hleap meant to those who grew to know him!

Author: John Reinhart

Email From Dr Hleap's Daughter
Hi John,
What a pleasant surprise to hear from you! Your story is quite interesting. I am thrilled that you contacted me. I wish you, Connie and the auction a lot of success on September 12, 2009!

I am David Hleap's daughter (the 3rd of 4 kids) and the owner of the FuegoMundo restaurant in Sandy Springs FuegoMundo. I have several of my Dad's works displayed at the restaurant on our featured Art Wall and will be rotating in new art quarterly to feature some of Dr. David Hleap's different styles. I am working on putting together his legacy. Like yourself, I know there are a lot of people in the Cumming, Dawsonville, Gainesville area and also in Colombia, South America that really valued him as their doctor and person and humanitarian, and I would love to hear and collect the stories. I hope to write and publish a book one day.

I would like very much to meet with you and possibly attend your auction. Let me know how I can best be of help to you.

If you can direct people to my restaurant that would be great, and what would most fill my heart is to be able to hear and collect the stories of all the incredible ways that my Dad gave of himself to individuals and to our World. He was a unique and exceptional individual that loved people of all cultures and nationalities and accomplished so much. He was both a genius and a warm and giving person, a rare combination. Me and my siblings continually marvel at how he could find time to do and be good at so many things. He was an exceptional doctor by day and an artist by night. He was a husband, father, writer, photographer, researcher, and had many hobbies. We suspect that his artistic works number in the thousands. He gave away most of his paintings and pieces away to many of his patients, charities, family and friends. He practiced many different styles and mediums including oil on canvas, acrylics, cubism, watercolors, pen and ink, miniature wood sculptures, etc. He was learned in religion, fishing, politics, medicine, art, photography, travel, geography and much more. There was no subject that he didn't know a lot about (even without the Internet).

Please find attached a write-up that I did for him that is currently displayed at FuegoMundo.

You can reach me via email at mashahersh@aol.com for more information.

I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
Masha Hleap-Hershkovitz