Personal Narratives in Pastel on Sandpaper
Barbara Rachko is an American contemporary artist and author who divides her time between residences in New York City and Alexandria, VA. She is best known for her pastel-on-sandpaper paintings, her compelling eBook, “From Pilot to Painter,” (available on Amazon.com), and her unique and popular blog, “Barbara Rachko’s Colored Dust.”
New York critic Peter Dellolio remarks, ”It is undeniable that, like de Chirico, Barbara Rachko has created a unique, original, and very private landscape.”
The life Rachko has led has been extraordinary and inspiring. She learned to fly at the age of 25 and became a commercial pilot and Boeing-727 flight engineer before joining the Navy. As a Naval oﬃcer she spent many years working at the Pentagon and retired as a Commander.
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.
Rachko uses her large collection of Mexican and Guatemalan folk art – masks, carved wooden animals, papier mâché figures, and toys – to create one-of-a-kind pastel-on-sandpaper paintings that combine reality and fantasy and depict personal narratives. Her paintings are bold, vibrant, and extremely unusual.
The idea for her “Black Paintings” began when she 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. The music was pared down to its essentials.
Arts writer Ann Landi states, “Barbara Rachko’s antecedents are not in the folk art traditions of the cultures she studies and embraces, but rather in the sophisticated strategies of Henry Matisse (who was a master at mixing patterns) and Edgar Degas (who exploited the power of oblique angles and cropped figures).”
Rachko exhibits nationally and internationally and has won many awards during her more than 30 year career as a professional artist. She continues to attract accolades, including completion of Ajira’s Emerge 2000 business program for artists, a 2008 – 2009 Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation award, and grants from the Templar Trust in Lichtenstein.
She was selected for a fellowship to the New York School of Art Independent Study Program and was nominated for the Freedom to Create Prize, Singapore.
The artist was interviewed by Brainard Carey for Yale radio WYBC and many publications including a recent interview on Follow magazine. Dr. Lisa Paul Streitfeld, Kulturindustrie theorist and critic, recently wrote an essay about her work on the Hermeneutics of New Modernism blog. You can find Barbara Rachko’s Wikipedia biography at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Rachko.
Banner: White Star, soft pastel on sandpaper, 38” x 58”, framed size: 50″ x 70″.