A: Generally, I am most interested in exploring Mexico and destinations in Central and South American because they offer endless inspiration to further my work. I’m not exactly certain why this is the case. I DO know that I cannot get enough of travel to points south!
My 2017 trip to Bolivia proved to be crucial for my current pastel painting series. “Bolivianos” is based on an exhibition of Carnival masks encountered at the National Museum of Ethnology and Folklore in La Paz.
I had high hopes of making a return visit – along with a private tour guide – last February. However, since President Moreno resigned last November, much political instability, violence, and turmoil resulted. I would not have felt safe traveling to Oruro to see Carnival celebrations this year.
In the mean time I look forward to traveling to Chile, the Atacama Desert, and Easter Island next winter!
Comnents are welcome!
Q: You had a terrific interview published in the July Issue # 44 of “Art Market.” How did that happen?
A: You know, my business strategy is to get my work onto as many websites as possible in hopes of eventually reaching the right collectors. ArtsRow has not gotten me a sale yet, but wow, what press! The print copy of “Art Market is gorgeous.” I was stunned by the quality of the reproductions, the layout, and the fact that the publisher did not cut any of my 18-page interview!
This is how it happened. I cannot remember if Paula Soito found me or vice versa. Somehow we connected, I sent my work for her ArtsRow website, and shortly after, she asked to interview me for her blog. Paula deeply connected to something in my work or my bio. I may be mistaken, but I do not believe she asks many artists for an interview.
As I do with every interview request, I enthusiastically said, “Yes!” Paula proceeded to ask great questions. I prepared my written answers to her questions as though I were writing an article for “The New York Times,” because once an interview is published, you never know who will read it. And we had no word limits since the interview was being published on her blog, not in print.
So last spring my in-depth interview was published on Paula’s blog. Sometime later she let me know that she had met Dafna Navarro, CEO and Founder of “Art Market,” and was arranging for our interview to be published there. I thought, “Gee, that’s nice,” thinking there’s no way they will publish the whole article. When I received my print copy in the mail I was thrilled! Not only did my interview look great, but it was sandwiched between a piece about an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum and one at The Whitney Museum of American Art! So, of course, I am sharing it with everyone and encouraging people to purchase a print copy.
Q: You are a multi-talented woman! Tell us about your book, “From Pilot to Painter,” and how writing, for you, compares to painting and photography. Which do you prefer?
A: I am pleased that my eBook FROM PILOT TO PAINTER is available on Amazon and iTunes. It is based on my blog and is part memoir, including my personal loss on 9/11, insights into my creative practice, and intimate reflections on what it’s like to be an artist living in New York City now. The eBook includes new material not found on the blog, plus 25+ reproductions of my vibrant pastel-on-sandpaper paintings, a Foreword by Ann Landi (who writes for ARTnews and The Wall Street Journal), and more.
“Barbara Rachko’s Colored Dust” (the title of my blog) continues to be a crucial part of my overall art practice. Blogging twice a week forces me to think deeply about my work and to explain it clearly to others. The process has helped me develop a better understanding about why I make art and has encouraged me to become a better writer.
From the beginning in the 1980s I used photographs as reference material and Bryan would shoot 4” x 5” negatives of my elaborate setups with his Toyo-Omega view camera. In those days I rarely picked up a camera except when we were traveling. After Bryan was killed on 9/11, I inherited his extensive camera collection – old Nikons, Leicas, Graphlex cameras, etc. – and I wanted to learn how to use them. In 2002 I enrolled in a series of photography courses (about 10 over 4 years) at the International Center of Photography in New York. I learned how to use all of Bryan’s cameras and how to make my own big color prints in the darkroom. Along the way I discovered that the sense of composition, form, and color I developed over many years as a painter translated well into photography. The camera was just another medium with which to express my ideas. Astonishingly, in 2009 I had my first solo photography exhibition in New York.
It’s wonderful to be both a painter and a photographer. Pastel painting will always be my first love, but photography lets me explore ideas much faster than I ever could as a painter. Paintings take months of work. To me, photographs – from the initial impulse to hanging a framed print on the wall – are instant gratification.
For two years I have been using my iPad Pro to capture thousands of travel photographs. Most recently, I visited Gujarat and Rajasthan in India. I have never been inclined to use a sketchbook so composing photos on my iPad keeps my eye sharp while I’m halfway around the world, far from my studio practice.
Comments are welcome!
A. I have just started working on a small pastel painting. Although the mask looks Tibetan, surprisingly, it is from Bolivia. It’s one I encountered at a mask exhibition at the Museum of Ethnography and Folklore in La Paz. This is another in my “Bolivianos” series.
Comments are welcome!
A: I consider myself extremely fortunate to have seen a mask exhibition at the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore when I visited La Paz in May. Presented as they were against black walls with dramatic spot-lighting, the masks looked exactly like 3D versions of my paintings! These old Bolivian masks were stunning.
I spent a long time there composing photographs on my iPad. Immediately I knew this exhibition was a gift because I now had material to keep me busy in the studio for several years.
I have completed the first pastel painting in my new series, “Bolivianos,” and am far along into the second. I’m looking forward to many more to come!
Comments are welcome!
A: Although I had exhibited in a number of non-profit galleries in Virginia, Washington, DC, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York, my first solo in a commercial gallery was at 479 Gallery, 520 Broadway, in July 1996. The previous summer I had entered a juried exhibition there. My work won first prize and I was awarded a solo show.
This exhibition was soon followed by representation at an important New York gallery, Brewster Fine Arts, at 41 West 57th Street. I had my first two-person exhibition at Brewster in October 1996. The gallery specialized in art by Latin American artists. Besides myself, the sole non-Latina represented by Brewster was Leonora Carrington. I quickly began exhibiting alongside a group of illustrious artists: Leonora, Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Toledo, Francisco Zuniga, and other Latin American masters. I could hardly believe my good fortune!
Comments are welcome!