"Quality of life is creativity by the spirit..." By Petrushka
I was born in 1954 in California. By my earliest awareness of sight, I was in constant watch of the landscape before me. When old enough to be on my own, the intimate joy of venture, was to be out in nature. The trails of debris characteristic or symbolic of these escapades, seem to follow me home into my room. There was potential to be scolded, yet to discern my exploits were developments of a resourceful and creative child.
When I recount those early scout missions, I was fascinated with flowers and habitats of bugs. I would hike into the ravine waterway in our backyard, bicycle after butterflies, even to tempt fear by the capture of garden snakes with the use of the butterfly net. I would scale the huge Bay tree next to our house, to find refuge in its limbs. Taken in by these natural settings, became sanctuary for my loner spirit.
Being artistic during my formative years, at age eight began sculpting, drawing with colored pencils that were dipped in water, and hand sewing. I worked in clay modeling figurines, created assemblage pieces with my father's reel to reel spools and other discarded objects from his workspace. I assumed welcome in his basement shop to utilize his handy tools; soldering gun for welding wire, and by discovery melted crayons as sculpture. The assemblage works were finished by spray painting the various contents placed, housed within empty cigar boxes.
Along with my two older brothers, our summers were spent at camp away from secured home life. We slept in rustic cabins with canvas roofs, sited under the old-growth redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. I hand-held reptiles, learned about farm animals and their care, rode horses with English saddles or just bareback. We were taught how to set up camp sites under the redwood's canopy, on the "carpeted" earth floor.
I was tomboyish then, often inspired by my father's playfulness, and his prideful ways with two sons. My father was enthralled with nature. When he could, he took us on camping trips to the state's national parks. As a baby, I was initiated into the pristine outback of the California Rockies.
Our family relocated to Illinois, twice in fact, while I was in grammar school and later in my early teens. California was spacious, the Midwest was quaint and sophisticated. Residing in the Midwest afforded introductions to our family relation's wealth; to my benefit, was access to their extensive modern and contemporary art collections.
During these developmental years, I attended Hubbard Woods Community Center, where they taught art classes for all ages. This was my first training and exposure that encouraged self-expressionism.
My art achievements were without requisite, rather than accredited as any graduate work.
The first few clay figures I did at age eight were sourced from a textbook I discovered at the school library, to learn the basics of clay modeling by assemblage processes.
In my teens, three summers were spent attending fine arts courses at the Banff Center Of The Arts in Alberta, Canada. Banff's Rocky Mountain setting is a majestic environ of sheer granite prominence and glacial habitat. Being there, I was in close proximity with black bear, brown bear, grizzly, elk, moose and mountain goat. My studies there were focused on nude rendering/drawings with charcoal and pencil and prerequisite painting. I was already aptly skilled with figurative sculpting.
I was also mentored during my teens, by a family friend, who was a figurative painter using watercolors as her medium.
High schooling was at New Trier in Winnetka, Illinois (public), then completed my required courses at Windsor Mountain School, a progressive coed boarding school in Lenox, Massachusetts. The institution was founded by Gertrude and Max Bondy during the 1920's in Germany. Their incentive was based upon the "German Youth Movement," that expressed the concept for young adults' education required less structure and more attentive support: encouragement for the love of learning. Windsor Mountain was an exceptional community for troubled yet gifted students. My studies were at my own pace. I did not take any art classes but did doodle with pen and ink.
Following graduation in 1972, I attended Stanford University's summer arts drawing course, anticipating in the fall to begin a two-year program at USIU, a private institution for independent studies. It was the following year I enrolled at California College Of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. And years later, I took a preliminary design and color theory course at the Rudolf Schaefer School Of Design, in San Francisco.
My mother died unexpectedly in June of 1972. This was three weeks after I graduated from boarding school. Being too distraught to concentrate on scholastic studies at USIU, or even CCAC, I returned to Chicago (twice this move over a few years time) to volunteer at The Museum Of Contemporary Art, eventually to be hired as an employee.
The brief semester at CCAC requisite courses were for the fundamentals of drawing. These primary courses were my introduction to the magic of colored wax-based pencils, and training the eye to "see.'' A transition, as far as skills applying scale, perspective, and the art of color blending. The segue for new artistic interests.
My move back to the city of Chicago: During my tenure at Museum Of Contemporary Art, I helped crew with the transitions of installations that exhibited works of renown contemporary artists: Robert Rauschenberg, Mondrian, Claes Oldenburg, Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Christo, Judy Chicago, Frank Stella, and Diane Arbus, among others. Witnessing the current spectrum of contemporary art, as well the interpretive movement of conceptual art. These themed exhibits in the 1970's were highly controversial for the visiting public, often to hear disgraceful comments rebutting the consideration of "concept" as an art form. I also co-managed the museum's gift store.
Yearning a sense of belonging, I moved back to California to assume the formalities supportive of my artistic pursuits.
I trained privately with Robert Lombardo, a former art professor from the Academy Of Art in San Francisco. We worked alongside each other in his San Francisco studio, creating true to life-form sculptures, plaster based, coated in fiberglass, semi-clothed and moderately embellished with acrylic paints. I worked for a few years casting my figurative bronzes at Cirecast foundry, in San Francisco. Many years later, I cast with a foundry owned by Elliot Ganz on Long Island.
As my artistic spirit evolves...A developing talent, to acknowledge interests in architecture and hardscaping, an eventual pursuit remodeling unique real estate properties.
In my thirties, I was invited to participate as an international council member for The Israel Museum in Jerusalem. This position was an honor to participate with prominent patrons of the arts, antiquities, and homage to my heritage survival. Simultaneously, I became a founding member of our family's philanthropic foundation based in New York City, The Nathan Cummings Foundation. The ten years of my recommendations primary focus were for documentary film making. By innate passion, grants were made to George Adamson, Tony Fitzjohn and Kim Ellis for their tireless conservation efforts and community work in Kenya and Tanzania, Africa.
To mention, in my late twenties to mid-thirties, I traveled to explore various parts of the world; to village communities that continued to practice their indigenous customs. I always traveled equipped with art supplies and camera gear, to respond to the sites of these stimulating experiences.
In the year 2000, I took a three-month journey by ship to circumnavigate the globe via Holland America Cruise Line: the first cruise ship permitted to sail into the international waters of Antartica. This was particularly inspiring to me as an artist, as we sailed passed massive floating icebergs that replicated concepts of Isamu Noguchi's sculpted works.(I took 30 rolls of film as we made this passage through the iceberg waters.)
From these grand-scapes of ice, we headed to the continent of South America's southeast coast. Continuing to sail eastward, to the southern tip of Africa arriving at the port of Johannesburg, where I celebrated my 46th birthday. We then flew to the interior of Tanzania to Tsavo National Park for a brief over night stay. It was there I witnessed a lone bull elephant moving at a clip, fanning the air with his enormous ears, raising clouds of dust trailing him on the Serengeti floor. The following day morning's sunrise, took an air balloon ride maneuvering over the Serengeti plain, to observe the vast numbers of herds awakening at dawn. Visceral experiences that marked my memory as highlights of awe.
My extensive travels subsided due to chronic health issues, but fortunately never to interfere with resourcing the core of my being: to express my passions with creative visions.
For the last 45 years, my body of work demonstrates whimsical drawing with prismatic colored waxed pencils, photo-montage: collage with magazine images and other mixed media, pastel crayon series; inspired by aboriginal symbols to create distinct language statements, and figurative clay sculptures cast in bronze, maquette-sized pieces.(Except one life-size female torso.)
My recent works combine digital camera information, manipulated by computer technologies: by resourcing my archives of images of moon sightings, planets, water reflections and city lights; these categorically are the basis medium for my "photo montage abstractions."
My devotions in life are focused on wildlife preservation, stewardship of the lands, and as an artist; journeys into the vibrant natural and an imagined world.
Petrushka - 2018