Leonard Zielaskiewicz was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1922 and grew up with eight siblings during the Great Depression. In 1942, he enlisted in the United States Army and shipped overseas to serve in France and Germany during World War II. In 1945, he returned to his family home in Ohio and entered the Cleveland School of Art (now the Cleveland Institute of Art), where he studied drawing, painting, and sculpture under Viktor Schreckengost. Zielaskiewicz secured a scholarship to the California School of Fine Arts and moved to California in 1951 to study photography.
At CSFA, Leonard embraced Minor White’s declaration that a photograph could express more than what is seen on its surface. He used the camera as an extension of his personal vision, tightly framing subjects in the viewfinder to create
semi-abstractions. His gaze was frank, sometimes witty, but rarely romantic, which is particularly appealing to modern viewers.
After Leonard finished the program in 1954, he dropped out of sight until the earthquake forced him from seclusion in 1989. Although it appears that Zielaskiewicz stopped practicing photography after he left CSFA, he drew avidly his entire life and had a shadow career as a commercial illustrator.
Leonard Zielaskiewicz passed away in 1992 and is survived by his sister Dorothy Latko. Details of Leonard’s life remain unclear, obscured by his deliberate withdrawal from society.