2010-10-01 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

The Life Within Wood
Commmentary by Susan Hartenstein

Robin Pogrebitskiy at his best, carving from nature. Robin Pogrebitskiy at his best, carving from nature. Robin Pogrebitskiy was a unique artist and a rare human being. “Robin’s Garden,” as his studio and workshop was dubbed, was a staple of RAA’s sTudio 7 Gallery – even before it was “sTudio 7 Gallery.”

On the hottest days and the coldest, he came to carve his wood, transforming it into wondrous, phantasmagoric creatures, people and objects of nature. In his 70s he came … by bike; by bus. Only in the last year or so poor health kept him away. And yet, somehow he was still there. He will always be there. Robin died this past weekend, walking near a scenic lake, enjoying the nature he loved. He was a gentle, soft-spoken man whose eloquence derived from his deep passions. Robin’s father, William, was a political cartoonist whose art condemned the oppression and injustice he saw in the world of the 1920s and 1930s.

Robin was able to make copies of many of those cartoons, documents of history, and bring them from Russia to this country.

Last year, Robin requested, in his quiet eloquence, that RAA exhibit those prints. In August 2009, due in large measure to the efforts of Yuri Yurov, and also of Janet Dever, Geoff Rawling, and Robin’s family, the RAA mounted “The Art of Robin and William Pogrebitskiy.”

Thanks to the son, the eloquence of the father he loved and respected was not lost. And the artistry of the son complemented that of the father.

I think it only fitting to repeat a portion of “From the Artist’s Studio” from August 14, 2009. I think Robin would appreciate that:

William Pogrebitskiy passed his artistic talent on to his son. Robin Pogrebitskiy has taken what began as a hobby, woodcarving, and brought it to the level of high art.

When Robin looks at a piece of wood (usually driftwood he has found on the beach) he sees within it the shapes of an animal or a person or an object.

He then carves into that wood bringing forth from its depths the wood’s true reality; true identity. Taking advantage of the natural qualities and forms in the wood, Robin never compromises that entity – he enhances it.

For a relief portrait of Einstein created on a portion of a tree trunk, Robin has allowed a gnarled, bumpy gall to describe the wild hair of the genius.

The sculpted bust of a woman, also carved into a trunk, is topped with the flowing poetry of surrounding branches expressing her luxuriant hair.

The wood never loses its character to become less than it is – only more. The artist’s love of the medium is evident.

The luscious grain of the wood is the grain of the face or vase or candlestick. A ‘beehive’ vase is designated as such because of the warm honey-like color of the wood. All sculptures are carved from one piece of wood.

Many are varnished to bring out their luster. Some of the pieces in the show are abstract. The stylized figure of a man has been wired as a lamp.

Dragons, fantastic intertwined birds, jewelry boxes, menorahs, chairs, a Greek god and goddess - all live in the world of Robin Pogrebitskiy. All are unique.

As is this exhibit which, for the first and, perhaps, only time unites the art of this father and son.

A man celebrating his 80th birthday reaches back to a father killed in a war to defend humanity, at age 40. In “The Art of Robin and William Pogebitskiy” time and death cease to separate.

Call to Artists: “Gifted,” RAA’s annual holiday member exhibit. Deadline to submit entries is October 8, 2010.

Entry and prospectus forms are available at the galleries www.rockawayartistsalliance.org


Phone: 718-474-0861; Fax: 718- 474-4373; e-mail: info@raa116.org; website: www.rockawayartistsalliance.org

Fort Tilden Highlights: PRESENT EXHIBIT: “ARTSPLASH” is the annual multimedia showcase for visual and performing artists, presented in sTudio 7 Gallery and on the indoor and outdoor stages at the Rockaway Center for the Arts at Fort Tilden. On view through Oct.10. Gallery hours: Sat. and Sun. 12-4 p.m. and by appointment. Free admission to exhibit, reception and special events.

INKSPLASH: Printmaking exhibition. Oct. 9-Nov. 7 in sTudio 6, RoCA.

PAINTING CLASSES FOR ADULTS: “Painting With Geoff Rawling”: Tues. 7- 9 p.m., Thurs. 10 a.m.-12 noon. sTudio 6. $20 per class, supplies included.

THURS. NIGHT OPEN MIC: Performing artists of all disciplines invited. sTudio 7 stage. Sign-up: 7:45 p.m. Start time: 8 p.m. Join us. Free.

THURS. NIGHT YOGA: Free, on Thurs., 7-8 p.m., in sTudio 7 – Yoga With Mary Lou.

kidsmART corner

The free kidsmART after-school program will be starting the week of October 18 in building T-149 in Fort Tilden. We will have a registration at PS 114 and registration forms will be available online and in the RAA office as well. Parents should look to our ad for kidsmART in this week’s Wave for all of the details.

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