Pamela Beck, Abstract and Figurative Artist

Biography

I’m an accidental artist. My life does not follow the typical artist mold. I was on the faculty at a City University college as a counselor and then an administrator for 39 years. I've been a licensed psychologist in part time private practice since 1980. In fact, until the age of 37 I turned away from any opportunity to draw, paint etc. because my ninth grade art teacher made it clear to me that I had no talent and gave me a C.

A defining moment in my development as artist was a high school reunion. I became very interested in mid-life transition; especially in women; and actually made a 20-minute video on the topic. Interviewing women my age, I understood that successful mid-life transition involves second chances and new options for self-expression.

During that time I would sit with my daughter as she was drawing, and doodle with her felt-tipped pens. I began to copy portraits in a Helmut Newton book of photographs. I started with charcoal, moved to pastels, then to watercolors; and finally to working with oil paints (since 1993). In the last 26 years I actualized an important part of myself, as psychology and academia have not provided me with avenues for expression of my artistic sensibility. Most important, I discovered an arena for deep gratification.

One of the perks of getting older is gaining wisdom; and for me I’ve learned that one of the most important gifts one can give oneself is to develop the capacity to “create pockets of joy”. For me, making art is a major way of doing that.

My formal art education has been limited by my professional responsibilities. I started at the Art Students League in 1989 (during a six-month sabbatical) enrolling in a life drawing class. I remember being so nervous during those first few days of two minute poses with nude models that my charcoal kept breaking. The majority of my classes were at The School of Visual Arts and The Art Center at the 92nd Street Y.

An ironic note in ending this artist biography. In fifth grade my mother enrolled us in a mother/daughter sculpture class taught by the late Louise Nevelson. My memory of the experience was being bored—making endless mazes of clay. Recently my mother mentioned that Louise Nevelson thought my work in that class was good.

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Education

Basic Sculpture Course with Louise Nevelson, Long Island, 1956

Art Student's League, New York City, 1975 – 1976

School of Visual Arts, New York City, 1993 – 1997

Art Center at 92nd Street Y, New York City, 2007 – Present

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Artist Statement

As difficult as it is to write an art bio, writing an artist statement is more so. Frequently, the text of these statements sound too academic and/or technical.

Several times a year I struggle to define my painting style, as my works vary. My 26 years of making art have been (in certain ways) similar to adolescence. The major task of our teen years is to develop an identity; to try on various “faces” and “costumes” to determine what feels right. Similarly, my artistic evolution started with strong representational works. I moved to less representational, more expressionistic work where the dream images from my unconscious are imposed on thick textured layers of contrasting hues. My love of Italy and NYC architecture changed my work back to a more representational style;—though still expressionistic—where I simplified shapes, and intensified the color of earlier works.

And then, as happens in life, I stopped painting. Certain upsetting events made it impossible to engage in the wonderful journey of making art. After five years I wanted to start again so I enrolled in the 92 Street Y Art Center (where I knew I could not not paint). Also, I wanted to challenge myself so I enrolled in Abstract Painting classes. I‘ve been painting abstractly for the last seven years. The first three years were extraordinarily difficult as I had no idea how to move from painting something objectively recognizable to something totally abstract. Through determination, repetition and good teachers I succeeded. My abstract paintings of the last four years are increasingly strong.

My purpose as a painter remains the same as it was when I started. I want to “stimulate the eye and the heart”. I continue with vivid color. Texture has become an integral part of my works. I paint intuitively. Sometimes I have a sketch of shapes and colors. Regardless of whether I have any preliminary idea the original “painting” usually changes. Painting is “my pocket of joy” journey;—I adjust colors, shapes, texture, line until I’ve reached the end of my journey. Or not. And then I go back to continue the journey.

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Exhibits

Group Show, "Behind the Mask", Ward-Nasse Gallery, NYC, 1995

Solo Show, "Kalaidoscope", Kalio‘s, NYC, 1996

Group Show, Reggio Gallery, NYC, 1997

Group Show, Arriba Gallery, Great Barrington, Mass., 1997

Group Show, Synchronicity Space Gallery, NYC, 1998

Group Show, Great Neck North High School, Great Neck, NY, 1998

Solo Show, Buon Gusto Restaurant, NYC, 1998

Two Person Show, "Personal Visions", Grace Gallery, NYC, 1998

Solo Show, President‘s Gallery of N.Y.C., College of Technology, NYC, 2002

Solo Show, Michael Towne Spirits, NYC, 2004

Solo Show, Cadman Towers Art Show, NYC, 2004

Solo Show, "Cityscapes/Countryscapes", St. Francis College, NYC, 2005

Group Show, Cadman Towers Art Show, NYC, 2010

Brooklyn Waterfront Artist‘s Coalition Art Show, NYC, 2012

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Representation

Ward-Nasse Gallery, NYC

New York University Law School, NYC

Over 25 individual collectors throughout the United States

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Publication

Perspectives: A Journal of the Faculty of City University of
New York
, City University of New York Press

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Volunteer

Whitney Museum, 2008 – 2014

Family Program. Within the structure of a two hour workshop, assist children (6-12 years) in creating art from various materials after a 45 minute tour of specific exhibits, (including the Whitney Biennial). Art forms include: painting, drawing, collage.

Museum of Modern Art, 2010 – present

Visitor Services. Greeter. Greet and direct visitors; provide general information; answer specific questions; educate visitors about ongoing and special exhibits; assist visitors in developing a particular plan based on personal interests and time constraints.

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