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Lauri Mendenhall
Art Journalist
1997, Las Vegas Art Museum Catalog

Essie Pinsker will prove to be one of the more interesting biographies among those of 20th-century American artists. A New Yorker born and bred, she was among those first feminists to entrust her two children to a housekeeper and go to work. Her fierce independence was further manifested when her husband refused to travel - summer after summer, she went to Europe by herself to study and become absorbed in the great art and tradition of that continent.

Although she currently resides in the Southern California oasis of Newport Beach, Pinsker approaches her art with the cosmopolitan gusto of her heritage. Admitting only to being 70 years-plus in age, Pinsker received a B.A. from Brooklyn College as a young woman before succeeding at nine separate careers over the next 35 years. A progressive, dynamic, and tirelessly innovative woman, her jobs included modeling, merchandising, advertising, public relations, newspaper and magazine reporting and editing, fashion consulting, teaching, and parenting - all before taking the plunge in her most challenging profession as a sculptor. While raising young children in the early 60’s, she studied both sculpture and painting at New York University, The Art Students League, The Museum of Modern Art, and The New School. She also took graduate courses at Columbia University in New York, as well as at Cambridge University and Oxford University in England.

She worked traditionally in bronze for the first several years; then, inspired by sculptors David Smith and Henry Moore, she conquered the difficulties of welding while learning to work in stone, and found direct carving to be a compelling vehicle to communicate her own emotions into the powerful sculptures she was starting to create. During this process of learning, she journeyed to Pietrasanta, Italy, to investigate the techniques with marble used by Italian carvers. Back home in her studio - first located in New York’s Union Square, later in the Soho District, and finally Long Island City - she mastered the use of an air hammer, compressor, cut-off wheels, and other sophisticated tools needed to fine-tune her stylistic direction toward monumental works.

In 1981, she was given a one-woman show at Madison Avenue's Bodley Gallery in New York City, and later was honored with Sculpture Awards in the Knickerbocker Artist 24th Annual Exhibition and The Metropolitan Life Art Show. In 1987, she received another solo exhibition at New York's renowned Vorpal Gallery located in Soho. Over the next eight years, Pinsker's work also appeared in numerous group exhibitions throughout the United States: New York, Philadelphia, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New Jersey. Abroad, her work has been seen at the Arco International Art Fair in Madrid, Spain, as well as in galleries in Stockholm; London; Yehud, Israel; and Leverkusen, Germany. Currently, she is represented by Left Bank Gallery in Laguna Beach, California, where she will have a solo exhibition in early 1998. Later that year, she will have a one-woman exhibition at Ross Watkins Gallery in Palm Desert, California.

Pinsker’s intensely personal style of sculpture attempts to reconcile the human with the divine in a panorama of metaphors and characters drawn from the Bible and mythology, as well as from the artist’s own emotional landscapes. This exhibit showcases a selection of works from the six series that have dominated Pinsker’s career. In succession, these are: 1) Abstract/Figurative, Pinsker’s earliest Sculptural forms; 2) The Gordian Knot, solid geometric configurations which appear both confounding and sensual as interlocking masses of either marble or bronze; 3) Other Realities, a series that explores different levels of reality; 4) Metamorphosis, a dramatic series of larger, bulbous-shaped works that look into the mysterious evolution - from the void to man; 5) Constructions, works representing her dramatic shift from volume to a distinctive linear geometry; and 6) Windows, Pinsker’s most recent scale models designed for public places where people can walk in, around, and through the sculptural elements.

Prior to her sculpting career, she was President of Essie Pinsker Associates, Inc., an Advertising and Public Relations Agency, from 1960 to 1982. Before that, she was the Sportswear Editor for Women’s Wear Daily. She was also Press Director for Leopold Stokowski and the American Symphony Orchestra, and served as an Instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. At different periods, she was a Buyer for Ohrbach’s and Arkwright, Inc., was the Fashion, Beauty, and Travel Editor for The Woman Golfer and a contributing writer for the New York Times. She also received the Cine Eagle Award as Executive Producer of the film “Pupae.&8221;

Reviewing her many successful fields of endeavor, Essie Pinsker’s credo is “You Can If You Want.” Accordingly, when she sold her advertising agency in 1983 in order to devote her life to making sculpture, her mission and purpose were clear: “I decided I wanted to die an artist, not an efficient business machine,” she says. Her career as an artist has moved at a rapidly rewarding pace ever since. A particularly gratifying anecdote to her philosophy of intention is how it rubbed off on the lives of her two children, both of whom have enjoyed stimulating careers. Her son, Seth, who lives in Los Angeles, is a motion picture and television writer and director, while her daughter, Susan, is a professor of Behavioral Sciences at Berkshire Community College in Massachusetts.

Essie Pinsker’s 1997 Lifetime Retrospective at the Las Vegas Art Museum represents the culmination, but by no means the end, of a distinguished and highly productive career as an American artist, and a living metaphor for a uniquely independent, original and successful American life.

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