A: There are many reasons to continue to make art. First, I am fascinated by my months- if not years-long creative process. It begins with travel to remote destinations and ends in framed pastel paintings in my studio, hanging in galleries, at art fairs, in collectors’ homes, etc. Each new pastel painting is another thread in an expanding tapestry that is my entire body of work. It’s fascinating to never know where the process, or the paintings, will end up nor who will be touched by the work.
My pastel paintings continue to garner appreciation among a growing list of collectors. Here’s a recent email from a couple that has been collecting my work from the beginning.
we are thrilled and thrilled and thrilled for your good news from miami and naples.
. . . “tense peace, a tumultuous stillness” . . .
we know we love you and we love your work.
how lucky are we to live with your work in our home, in our lives.
we love to read how others describe it.
thanks for sharing.
happy us to have you and your art in our lives,
love to you,
john & cheryll
your work stopped me in my tracks decades ago.
the sight of your work never left me.
i knew that i had to have it near me at some time, no matter what the cost.
i began immediately to negotiate with john.
you know the story . . .
i promised that i would not buy a single thing for five years if i could have one piece of your art.
i held true for the five years and beyond, adding three more pieces of your work.
if we had the wherewithal, your work would be on every floor.
there is never a day that goes by without thinking how brilliant that work is and how it has enriched our deepest sense of visual joy.
we see the rain pouring down, the snow falling, the clouds scudding by, in false friends.
i admit, we don’t allow the sun to shine on them. i couldn’t bear for her to be damaged.
your thoughtful, brilliant words kept us from changing the highly-reflective plexi to something that would have dulled the drama of us walking in front of and being a part of the work.
we still have those words.
it took about one-half of one second for my thinking to change.
and, man, are we grateful.
it never occurred to us that your work wouldn’t be sought after.
always, we walk into a museum and see your work on the walls.
on the walls of the hemi-cycle at the corcoran.
on the walls of the whitney.
on the walls of the met breurer.
on any large white space that would allow each piece to breathe.
we have always known, deep in our marrow that your work is singular.
you have always had our hearts . . . since the second i walked into the torpedo factory, a first-grade teacher with a first-grade teacher’s salary, and knew that i’d sell my honda civic and walk rather than not have in reality, the frogs thought they were men (i know that the title of the piece is something like that . . . the decades have blurred the words).
so, we waited and then . . .
sigh . . .
all the best to you.
we are excited out of our ever-loving minds for you.
but . . . we’ve always known . . .
c & j
Comments are welcome!
A: I am not the only artist who would say this, certainly, but the low pay is a continual frustration.
The expenses of doing business continually increase and most other professionals get to pass these on to their clients. But for artists it’s different: it’s just tough to pass along costs to collectors. One of the reasons I spend so much time educating people about the process involved in making my pastel paintings, is to provide some understanding of the serious amounts of time, effort, travel, thought, education, money, etc. that are essential to creating them.
It always surprises me when non-artists don’t appreciate the unswerving devotion and plain hard work that are required of professional artists. It makes me wonder what people imagine artists do all day.
Comments are welcome!
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
An artist is known by his or her works. But how often do we consider that much of what we know depends on factors that were beyond the artist’s control? A few that come to mind are value on the art market, the knowledge and forethought of the artist’s survivors as they decide to keep or discard works, research interests of art and photo historians and the ways in which these change over time, willingness of dealers, collectors, and museum curators to provide information about the existence of works, the state of printing technology, and the availability of financing for exhibitions and publications.
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: Color in Transparency, edited by Jeannine Fiedler and Hattula Maholy-Nagy for the Bauhaus-Archive Berlin
Comments are welcome!
Q: Your new work explores relationships to figures through the medium of soft pastel. What prompted this departure from photography?
A: Actually it was the other way around. As I’ve mentioned, I was a maker of pastel-on-sandpaper paintings long before I became a photographer (1986 vs. 2002). However, the photos in the “Gods and Monsters” series were meant to be photographs in their own right, i.e., they were not made to be reference material for paintings. in an interesting turn of events, in 2007 I started a new series, “Black Paintings,” which uses the “Gods and Monsters” photographs as source material. Collectors who have been following my work for years tell me the new series is the strongest yet. For now I’m enjoying where this work is leading. The last three paintings are the most minimal yet and I’ve begun thinking of them as the “Big Heads.” There is usually a single figure (“Stalemate” has two) that is much larger than life size. “Epiphany” (above, left) is an example. All of them are quite dramatic when seen in person, especially with their black wooden frames and mats.
Comments are welcome!
A: Here’s a quote from Cheryll Chew and John Frye, who own four of my pastel paintings.
We walked into her studio in 1994 and saw “In Reality the Frogs Were Men.” That instant on that day, my consuming passion with Barbara Rachko’s work began. We had absolutely no resources to buy “In Reality . . .” I did, however, know without a doubt that one day we would have her work, no matter what it took to get it.
We, years later, have “Scene Eleven: Bedroom,” “Scene Nine: Living Room,” “Scene Five: Kitchen,” and “False Friends.”
We have unorthodox appreciations and every single day, those pieces of art quicken the pulse and bring us pure pleasure.
Her pieces make us want to dance wildly around the room and wave our arms in the air. We are deeply grateful that her work is in our home. Her art balances the everyday domestic with the unthinkably rare, lovely, and maniacal. That is an edgy state of being that we thrive in.
Not long ago, we read an article about Nan Goldin. In the article was a phrase that says precisely what Barbara Rachko’s work does for us . . .
all of the pleasure circuits are deeply fulfilled by looking. . .
Nan Goldin The Look of Love: Matchmaking at the Louvre
A: I’d have to say that it’s my relationships with my collectors. I love to see my pastel paintings and photographs hanging on collectors’ walls, especially when the work is first installed and they tell me how happy they are to own them. People’s relationship to work that they own evolves over time. It’s always gratifying to hear that they love my paintings and photographs more after living with them. Then I know that my work has found the right home. An artist’s works are her children, after all, so we hope they are “adopted” by the right people. Collectors invariably become good friends so now I have a network of art-loving friends around the country.