Audrey Flack is a painter who, when I was in college in the 1970s, inspired me as I began my artistic journey. My art history teacher Patricia Hills at York College, which is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system, introduced us to the many women artists who were pushing the envelope at the time. There was Audrey Flack, Joyce Kozloff and Judy Chicago. All of these women are currently Honorary Vice Presidents of the National Association of Women Artists. Since at the moment, I am Chair of the Public Relations Committee of NAWA it is such an honor to be meeting these artists who are still teaching us to keep working, keep pushing, and keep making our own artistic statements.
Recently I went with hubby Dave and my friends Susan Rostan & hubby Bob to the “Heroines of Abstract Expressionism” at the Southampton Arts Center here on Long Island. Audrey had work in the show but so did four other artists who had been members of NAWA, Louise Nevelson, Nell Blaine, Dorothy Dehner, and Buffie Johnson.
Since Susan and I are co-hosting the Historical Research Team at NAWA this was an auspicious occasion for us and opened up new opportunities for research and writing.
Then another amazing event happened, Audrey Flack was scheduled for a talk at Southampton two weeks later, so we signed up and took another drive out east. It sure was worth it! Audrey, who is now 92, was there and clear as a bell answered questions about her work and her experiences from the 1950s onward. She was funny, dished gossip, was fully knowledgeable about the era, the people, the art movements and who the players in the industry were at the time. She talked about the Cedar Bar where all the artists gathered, talked & drank after working in their studios all day. She talked about Jackson Pollack, Robert Motherwell, Clement Greenberg, Helen Frankenthaler, and many more artists and gallerists. In the audience, was a who’s who of the Hamptons Art Scene asking the questions and/or thanking her for her many contributions to the arts.
I’m so grateful to still be able to be working as an artist, that I continue to grow, to enjoy and learn from other artists. To have this “brush with greatness” that I experienced by listening to, speaking to and having my photo taken with one of my heroes sparkles brightly in my life’s journey. I thank Pat Hills for opening my eyes and my mind over 50 years ago to pay attention to these women artists who were clearing the path and showing us that we as women artists had voices and something unique to say. And after all these decades, we still have statements to make, wisdom to share, and paths to plow for others to follow.