As a child I was always busy making things, crafts at the Y, sewing, making pictures. I remember the first grade and girls lining up at my desk, waiting for me to do drawings for them of ladies wearing fancy dresses, with flowers. The first paintings I saw were the Byzantine icons in church. One day in 1968, while reading Rolling Stone Magazine during school lunch, an article about counter-culture revealed that one could be an artist. Until then, I never realized it was something you could be, I just thought art was something one did. Abandoning career aspirations to become an astronaut or a dentist, I decided that I would become an artist.
I went directly to college out of high school and got a Bachelors in Fine Arts from SUNY Cortland. I was very lucky to go to Cortland State, there were 8 full time faculty for 40 art majors. For the most part the faculty were all Yalie’s, educated by displaced Bauhaus artists. I got a great education. I lived at home with my parents and 5 younger siblings, the first in my family to go to college. The Fine Arts Building was across the street from our house. I was a department sweet heart, given the keys to the buildings and offices, able to use the studios when school was closed.
Drawing and graphics were strengths of mine and I gravitated to printmaking. However, once I began painting I never stopped. I did some theater set-design and fell in love with Matisse. Students and faculty would head down to the city, we’d visit artist’s studios, museums and galleries, all pile into one room at the Chelsea Hotel. Formalism and Photorealism pretty much dominated the art scene then.
During my senior year at Cortland I did a semester in NYC, we all had apprenticeships and studio space in WestBeth. Renown artists and critics would make studio visits once a week, talk about their work, the art scene, and critique our work. It became apparent that New York City was the place to be if you wanted to be an artist. I moved to lower Manhattan the day after I finished my final semester,
Still believing that an MFA was necessary, I decided to attend the Masters Painting Program at Hunter College. In the mean time, I went to Europe for a few months. When I came back I got a job at a funky place called the Mudd Club. I was just a hippie chick from upstate, the Mudd Club was a real game changer. Hunter couldn’t compete. Not much could. Needless to say, my work was very influenced by the creativity and energy I was exposed to being part of the Downtown Scene. I was doing large mixed media works on paper (sexy-fun pictures) and assemblage, transitioning into installations. I showed in East Village galleries, ran a gallery upstairs from the Cedar Tavern, and did some graphic design.
In 1986 I sold a Keith Haring graffiti that I had taken down from the subway wall and went to Spain. My main objectives were to visit Gaudi buildings and Cueva de Altimira. While in Madrid I got turned on to Dutch kitchen still life paintings, I came back to the city and decided to learn how to paint. That meant oils on canvas.
The zeitgeist had changed, Reagan was president, yuppies were taking over the city forcing artists to leave, everyone in our building was suing each other. We sold the lease of our rent-controlled Chelsea loft and moved to Arizona. It didn’t take long before I felt like I was in exile, I had gone through a time machine! Arizona is a good place to paint, oils dry over night and the light is amazing. I did a lot of work. There were kitchen still lifes, garden views, figurative abstraction and multiples. I worked with gold leaf, interference painting, learned many traditional art techniques such as hand grinding oil paints and egg tempura, encaustic and fresco. We restored an Arts and Crafts bungalow and moved as soon as we could, 13 years later.
Next were 10 years in the Bay Area, and they were jam-packed. I won a battle with cancer, left my husband and did a series of paintings which explored love and lovers. It was appropriation, images with text, beautiful pieces. I befriended historian Peter Selz and he included me in a noteworthy exhibit. But, California wasn’t for me and in 2010 I relocated to New York State.
I assumed I’d land in Brooklyn, but 4 years ago I bought a building in Troy. The longer I stay here the more I like it. I have a nice studio with north light and a lot of room to store my prolific output. I have family in the area and have been doing some wonderful work. I go to the city regularly and keep up with what’s being shown. I’m now disabled and no longer work a job. More time to make art!