Barbara Rachko

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about the artist
exhibitions
awards
publications
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gallery: Studio
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overview

I am drawn to Mexican and Guatemalan cultural objects—masks, carved wooden animals, papier mâché figures, and toys—for reasons similar to those of Man Ray and the modernists, who in their case were drawn to African art. On trips to southern Mexico and Guatemala I frequent local mask shops, markets, and bazaars searching for the figures that will later populate my pastel paintings and photographs. How, why, when, and where these objects come into my life is an important part of the process. I take very old objects with a unique Mexican or Guatemalan past—most have been used in religious festivals—and give them a second life, so to speak, in New York in the present. When I return home I read prodigiously and find out as much about them as I can.

The Black Paintings series of pastel-on-sandpaper paintings grew directly from the earlier Domestic Threats. Both series use cultural objects as surrogates for human beings acting in mysterious, highly-charged narratives. In the Black Paintings the figures (actors) now take central stage. All background details, furniture, rugs, etc. are eliminated and are replaced by intense dark black pastel. Each painting takes months to complete as I slowly build up as many as 30 layers of soft pastel.


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about the artist

Barbara Rachko was born in Paterson, New Jersey and grew up in a New York City suburb. She graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.A. in psychology. After college, Barbara earned a commercial pilot’s license and Boeing 727 flight engineer’s certificate, then spent seven years on active duty as a Naval officer. In 1986 while working at the Pentagon, she began to study figure drawing and medical anatomy, and began many long years of developing her craft. Barbara subsequently resigned from active duty (but remained in the Navy Reserve and retired as a Commander) to devote herself to making art.

On 9/11 Barbara’s life was changed forever when her husband, Dr. Bryan C. Jack, was killed on the plane that hit the Pentagon. Dividing her time between residences in New York and Alexandria, Virginia, Barbara enjoys a busy career as a professional artist. She is represented by six galleries throughout the United States, exhibits nationally and internationally, and continues to win accolades, including a 2008 - 2009 Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation award, for her unique work.


exhibitions

Selected Solo Exhibitions

  • 2012
  • HP Garcia Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2011
  • HP Garcia Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2010
  • HP Garcia Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2009
  • “Barbara Rachko: Gods and Monsters,” H.P. Garcia Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2008
  • Contemporary Art Network, New York, NY
  • Art at First, New York, NY
  • NOIR, Grand Rapids, MI
  • 2007
  • “Gods and Monsters,” Capital One Art Gallery, McLean, VA
  • 2006
  • Azarian McCullough Art Gallery, St. Thomas Aquinas College, Sparkill, NY
  • 2005
  • Blackstone River Gallery, Woonsocket, RI
  • Artspace, Richmond, VA
  • “Scenes,” Crown Center Gallery, Loyola University, Chicago, IL
  • “Domestic Threats,” Joy Pratt Markham Gallery, The Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville, AR
  • 2004
  • Edward Williams Gallery, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Hackensack, NJ
  • Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, Cambridge, MA
  • “Domestic Threats,” Louise Jones Brown Gallery, Duke University, Durham, NC
  • 2001
  • Olin Gallery, Roanoke College, Salem, VA
  • 2000
  • La MaMa La Galleria, New York, NY
  • 1999
  • “There is No Place Like Home,” Park Avenue Atrium, NYC; curated by Leah Poller, director, Art Alliance, NYC
  • 1998
  • Broadway Windows, New York, NY
  • “There is No Place Like Home,” Mercedes-Benz Manhattan ArtSpace, NYC; curated by Leah Poller
  • “Through the Window,” Doll-Anstadt Gallery, Burlington, VT

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2012
  • International Institute of Photography and the Moving Image, Madrid, Spain
  • International Institute of Photography and the Moving Image, New York, NY
  • 2011
  • “Up to the Moment: Important Contributions to Early 21st Century Art History,” a museum traveling exhibition, organized by HP Garcia Gallery, New York, NY
  • HP Garcia Gallery, New York, NY
  • International Institute of Photography and the Moving Image, New York, NY
  • Lesley Heller Workspace, New York, NY, curated by Ann Landi, contributing editor, ARTnews
  • 2010
  • HP Garcia Gallery, New York, NY
  • “Artists for Haiti,” Contemporary Art Network, auction in support of Doctors Without Borders for Haitian earthquake relief
  • “Pulp Friction,” James Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA
  • “Past Forward,” Target Gallery, Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, VA (four-person show)
  • “Define: Art,” Betty Dare Art Gallery, Board of Investment Art, Chicago, IL
  • “The Healing Power of Art,” the Guild of Creative Art, Shrewsbury, NJ
  • Longstreth Goldberg, Naples, FL
  • 2009
  • Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation award winners, Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, NY
  • Rogue Space, New York, NY
  • Artexpo, Jacob Javits Convention Center, New York, NY; Artisan Direct, Pittsford, NY
  • Longstreth Goldberg, Naples, FL
  • Hudson Gallery, Sylvania, OH
  • ArtHaus, San Francisco, CA
  • 1212 Gallery, Burlingame, CA

    2008
  • “Animals in Your Kingdom,” Micro Museum, Brooklyn, NY
  • Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJ
  • Hudson Gallery, Sylvania, OH
  • Hefton-Page Fine Art, Blue Ridge, GA
  • Longstreth Goldberg, Naples, FL
  • ArtHaus, San Francisco, CA
  • 2007
  • “Zen of the Artist,” Broome Street Gallery, New York, NY
  • “Red,” Bergdorf Goodman, New York, NY; curated by Contemporary Artists Network, NYC
  • “SCAN,” New Art Center, New York, NY
  • “Clear Blue Tuesday,” movie directed by Elizabeth Lucas, photograph appeared in a scene at a gallery opening
  • “Free Play,” Islip Art Museum, East Islip, NY
  • Hudson Gallery, Sylvania, OH
  • Hefton-Page Fine Art, Blue Ridge, GA
  • Longstreth Goldberg, Naples, FL
  • “Masters’ Mystery Art Show,” Ritz Carlton, Art Basel Miami Beach, FL
  • “five x seven,” Arthouse at the Jones Center, Austin, TX and “five x seven - on the road: Houston,” Gallery Sonja Roesch, Houston, TX
  • ArtHaus, San Francisco, CA
  • 1212 Gallery, Burlingame, CA
  • 2006
  • “Between Body and Object,” Anthony Giordano Gallery, Dowling College, Oakdale, NY; curated by Pam Brown, gallery director
  • “Postcards From the Edge,” Sikkema, Jenkins, New York, NY
  • Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJ
  • Hudson Gallery, Sylvania, OH
  • Hefton-Page Fine Art, Blue Ridge, GA
  • Longstreth Goldberg, Naples, FL
  • “Masters’ Mystery Art Show,” Ritz Carlton, Art Basel Miami Beach, FL
  • “About Face,” ArtHaus, San Francisco, CA
  • “Big Fun,” ArtHaus, San Francisco, CA
  • 1212 Gallery, Burlingame, CA
  • 2005
  • Room With a View Gallery, Shangai, China
  • “Night of a Thousand Drawings,” Artists Space, New York, NY
  • “Multiple Oneness,” Park-Art Gallery, New York, NY
  • “Au Courant,” A Space Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (three-person show)
  • Gallery Z, Providence, RI
  • Hudson Gallery, Sylvania, OH
  • Art Struck Gallery, Blue Ridge, GA
  • Longstreth and Goldberg, Naples, FL
  • Margeaux Kurtie Modern Art, Madrid, NM
  • “House Party - Celebrating 15 Years of Breast Cancer Action,” ArtHaus, San Francisco, CA
  • 1212 Gallery, Burlingame, CA
  • Permanent Collection Loan, Main Library, Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe, NM

awards

  • Selected Awards
  • 2010, Grants from The Templar Trust, Liechtenstein, and the Midtown West Arts Association, New York, NY, for a solo exhibition at H P Garcia Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2009, Award Winner, Lenore Sagan Visual Arts Awards, Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation, New York, NY
  • 2009, Grants from The Templar Trust, Liechtenstein, and the Midtown West Arts Association, New York, NY, for a solo exhibition at H P Garcia Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2007, CAN Fellowship Recipient, Contemporary Art Network, New York, NY; selected by Barbara MacAdam, deputy editor, ARTnews

publications

  • Selected Bibliography
  • Aptaker, Ann and Miller, Stephen. Timeless: The Art of Drawing, (Catalogue), Morris Museum, Morristown, NJ, 2008. (Reproduction)
  • Awodey, Mark. “Southern Culture,” (Exhibition Review), Seven Days (Burlington, VT), Oct. 28, 1998. (Reproduction)
  • Birke, Judy. “Exploring Art-Making’s Internal and External Worlds,” (Review), New Haven (CT) Register,
  • Sept. 26, 2004.
  • Bischoff, Dan. “Art by Hand: Regional Drawing Throughout the Century,” (Review), Star Ledger, (Newark, NJ), October 4, 2008.
  • Bischoff, Dan. “A World of Art,” (Review), Star Ledger, (Newark, NJ), February 17, 2006.
  • Bischoff, Dan. “Insomnia Exhibit is a Real Eye-Opener,” (Review), Star Ledger, (Newark, NJ),
  • March 24, 2002. (Reproduction)
  • Bischoff, Dan. “Gallery Celebrates 25 Years in the Vanguard,” (Review), Star-Ledger, Sept. 17, 2000. (Reproduction)
  • Bischoff, Dan. “Farewell Heralds New Beginnings,” (Review), Star-Ledger, March 23, 2000. (Reproduction)
  • Braff, Phyllis. “Works that Create and Hold Energy,” (Review), The New York Times, Nov. 17, 1996. (Reproduction)
  • CALYX, A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, Corvallis, OR, Vol. 22:1, Summer 2004. (Reproductions)
  • Cambridge Blue Book, International Biographical Center, Cambridge, England, 2005.
  • Coates, Jason. “All Mixed Up: Artspace’s New Show includes Artists Whose Work Contrasts Sharply with Each Other,” (Exhibition Review), Style Weekly, Richmond, VA, Oct. 5, 2005. (Reproduction)
  • Collins, Erica. “Suspended Narratives: Provocative Works on Display in Kingston,” (Review), The North Kingston Standard-Times (RI), Oct. 23 - 24, 2003.
  • Collins, Tom. “SFCC’s Exhibition Space One of City’s Best-Kept Secrets,” (Review), Albuquerque (NM) Journal, Feb. 24, 2004.
  • Dellafiora, James. “From the Navy to Artist’s Life,” (Feature Article), The Villager (New York),
  • Aug. 28, 1996. (Reproduction)
  • Dellolio, Peter. “Previews: Jose Luis Corella, Francesco DePani, Ellen and Michel Gran, Barbara Rachko, Mitzura Salgian,” (Review), NY Arts, #14, Oct. 1997.
  • Dictionary of International Biography, International Biographical Center, Cambridge, England,
  • 25th Ed.: 1997.
  • Encyclopedia of Living Artists, Penn Valley, CA , 10th Ed.: 1997. (Reproduction)
  • Fighting Back: An Exhibition in Support of the Campaign to Stop Violence Against Women, (Exhibition Catalogue), Amnesty International, Tokyo, Japan, March 2004. (Reproduction)
  • Fortwengler, Erica. “Juror’s Remarks,” (Article), Alexandria, VA, March 2010.
  • Fortwengler, Erica. “Barbara Rachko: Journey to Finding Success as an Artist,” (Feature Article), Developments, Alexandria, VA, Spring 2008. (Reproductions)
  • Gascot, John. “Domestic Threats,” (Article), Huffington Post, June 30, 2010. (Reproductions)
  • Grant, Daniel. “Self-Publishing a Catalogue,” (Feature Article), American Artist, February 2004. (Reproduction)
  • Harrison, Helen. “With Luck, Iconoclasts Find Their Mediums,” (Review), The New York Times,
  • Feb. 18, 2006. (Reproduction)
  • Henry, Gerrit. “Barbara Rachko: Gods and Monsters,” Domestic Threats, (Catalogue), New York, NY, 2001, reprinted 2004. (Reproductions)
  • Konau, Britta. “He Urged Her to Abdicate and Film Noir,” Domestic Threats, (Catalogue), New York, NY, 2001, reprinted 2004. (Reproductions)
  • Klein, Richard. “Curator’s Remarks,” Aljira Emerge 2000 (Exhibition Catalogue), Aljira: A Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, NJ, March 9 - April 21, 2000. (Reproduction)
  • Liburt, Ellen. “Violence, Sex, Greed, & Domination Pervade Brewster Arts Opening,” (Review), Open Air (New York), Oct. 23, 1996. (Reproductions)
  • Marquis Who’s Who in America, New Providence, NJ, 57th Ed.: 2003; 58th Ed.: 2004; 60th Diamond Ed.: 2006; 61st Ed.: 2007; 62nd Ed.: 2008.
  • Marquis Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, New Providence, NJ, 34th Ed.: 2004 - 2005.
  • Marquis Who’s Who in the World, New Providence, NJ, 21st Ed.: 2004; 22nd Ed.: 2005; 23rd Ed.: 2006; 24th Ed.: 2007.
  • Marquis Who’s Who of American Women, New Providence, NJ, 19th Ed.: 1995 - 96; 20th Ed.: 1997 - 98; 23rd Ed.: 2002 - 03; 24th Ed.: 2004 - 05; 25th Silver Anniversary Ed.: 2006-07; 26th Ed.: 2007.
  • Maya, Carey. “Art Between Structure and Being” (Review), The Suffolk County News, (Oakdale, NY), Feb.23, 2006. (Reproduction)
  • McCormack, Jeannie. “Barbara Rachko’s Surrogates for Our Inner Demons,” Gallery & Studio, (New York, NY), Nov.- Dec. 2006/Jan. 2007. (Reproduction)
  • McCue, Kaz. “Curator’s Statement,” Extraordinary Things: A Study of Contemporary Art Through Material Culture , (Exhibition Brochure), Indiana State University,Terra Haute, IN; Oct. 30 - Nov. 22, 2003. (Reproductions)
  • Mercado, Ashley and McGurk, John J. “The Erotic Art Show at the Blackstone River Gallery,” (Review), Agenda (Woonsocket, RI), April 14 - 28, 2005.
  • New American Paintings, Open Studio Press, Wellesley, MA; April 1998. (Reproductions)
  • Norris, Doug. “URI Show Ranges From the Surreal to the Sublime,” (Review), South County Independent (Providence, RI), Oct. 23, 2003.
  • On the Issues Magazine, Winter 2009, Long Island City, NY. (Reproductions)
  • O’Shaughnessy, Tracey. “Pliskin, Curator and Artist, ‘Looking In/Looking Out,” (Review), The Sunday Republican, Chesire, CT, October 3, 2004.
  • The Pedestal Magazine.com, Charlotte, NC, June/July 2003. (Reproductions)
  • Phillips, Renee. “Art Entrepreneur: Are Juried Competitions Worth the Gamble,” (Feature Article), Art Calendar, Dec. 2008. (Reproduction)
  • Poet Lore, Volume 91, Number 2, Ann Arbor, MI. (Reproductions, Front and Back Cover).
  • Pritzker, Elisa. “Elisa Pritzker Talks Art: Artists Open Studios,” (Feature Article), Delaware & Hudson Canvas, Nov. 2008.
  • Proskow, Christine. “The Year’s Best Art: Experimental,” (Feature Article), The Artist’s Magazine, Dec. 2007. (Reproduction)
  • Rachko, Barbara. “Artist’s Remarks,” Fetish and Ritual, (Exhibition Brochure), Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, PA; Sept. 3 - 25, 2003. (Reproductions)
  • Rodriguez, Bill. “Dream Weavers: Suspended Narratives Explores Extra Dimensions,” (Review), The Providence (RI) Phoenix, Oct. 31 - Nov. 6, 2003.
  • Rothbart, Daniel. “Gods and Monsters,” (Exhibition Review), NYArts, Spring 2010. (Reproductions)
  • Schaber, Greg. “Paint What’s Important,” (Feature Article), The Artist’s Sketchbook, Jan. 2003. (Reproductions)
  • Schaber, Greg. “Shifting Your Viewpoint,” (Feature Article), The Artist’s Magazine, Oct. 1997. (Reproductions)
  • Streitfield, Lisa Paul. “Barbara Rachko,” (Exhibition Catalogue). H.P. Garcia Gallery, New York, NY, Oct. 2009.
  • Tolnick, Judith. “Curator’s Remarks,” Suspended Narratives, (Exhibition Brochure), University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI, Oct. 9 - Dec. 8, 2003. (Reproductions)
  • Tulane Review, New Orleans, LA, Volume XI, Issue 1, Fall 1999. (Reproduction)
  • 2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21stCentury, International Biographical Center, Cambridge, England, 2003, 2004.
  • 2000 Outstanding People, International Biographical Center, Cambridge, England, 2003.
  • Van Siclen, Bill. “At URI Gallery, Works That Will Give You Pause,” (Review), The Providence (RI) Journal, Nov. 6 - 9, 2003. (Reproduction)
  • Vine, Richard. “Critic’s Remarks,” (Untitled Brochure), New York, NY, 1996. (Reproductions)
  • The World’s Who’s Who of Women, Int’l Biographical Center, Cambridge, England, 14th Ed.: 1996.

artist statement

The Black Paintings

The assimilation of styles and motifs from African cultural artifacts into the work of avant-garde artists was a means of challenging conventional western aesthetic values and hierarchies that reflected what those artists perceived as a vacuous and moribund society. In looking to these sources to invigorate their own creative visions, what these artists actually discovered were new ways of seeing and making art.
—Wendy Grossman in Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens

I am drawn to Mexican and Guatemalan cultural objects—masks, carved wooden animals, papier mâché figures, and toys—for reasons similar to those of Man Ray and the modernists, who in their case were drawn to African art. On trips to southern Mexico and Guatemala I frequent local mask shops, markets, and bazaars searching for the figures that will later populate my pastel paintings and photographs. How, why, when, and where these objects come into my life is an important part of the process. I take very old objects with a unique Mexican or Guatemalan past—most have been used in religious festivals—and give them a second life, so to speak, in New York in the present. When I return home I read prodiogiously and find out as much about them as I can.

The Black Paintings series of pastel-on-sandpaper paintings grew directly from the earlier Domestic Threats. Both series use cultural objects as surrogates for human beings acting in mysterious, highly-charged narratives. In the Black Paintings the figures (actors) now take central stage. All background details, furniture, rugs, etc. are eliminated and are replaced by intense dark black pastel. Each painting takes months to complete as I slowly build up as many as 30 layers of soft pastel.

The idea for the Black Paintings began when I attended a jazz history course and learned how Miles Davis developed cool jazz from bebop. In bebop the notes were played hard and fast as musicians showcased their technical virtuosity. Cool jazz was a much more relaxed style with fewer notes, i.e., the music was pared down to its essentials. Similiarly my current series evolved from dense, complex visual compositions into paintings that depict only the essential elements—the actors.

Begun in 2007 this is my most personal body of work to date. The black background symbolizes death and emptiness as the actors are emerging from a deeply painful state. Although the Black Paintings series was created out of profound pain, each image manifests irrepressible optimism.

Studio

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