|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Farrell Brickhouse- Narrative Statement 2011|
As a second year student at Queens College in New York City, I was awarded a summer scholarship to Boston University’s Tangelwood program. A year later in the summer of 1971 I was awarded a scholarship to the Skowhegan School in Maine. It was the first supportive pluralistic creative community of artists I had shared in and was a formative experience. A friend I made that summer and I formed an apartment painting contracting crew and we supported ourselves in NYC that way for the next few years. What was it to move a red or blue on the canvas an inch or two when you were moving walls and painting ceilings high gloss pink.
I then spent three years fishing in Montauk to take a break from life in Manhattan but continued my artistic efforts and worked on Robert Wilson productions and others at The Kitchen in winters when it was too rough to fish. This going to sea greatly influenced my work to this day.
By 1978 I was having my first one-person exhibit with the Julian Pretto Gallery in what is now Tribeca, NYC. Julian provided a wonderful atmosphere in which to enter the art world. His building sized space attracted prominent artists and critics, and I received my first review by John Russell in The New York Times and met many of my peers.
Julian closed in 1979 and I had my first one-person exhibit with Max Protetch in that same year. I continued to show with Max and was awarded both a CAPS grant and an Emerging Artists grant from the NEA in 1980 followed by a full NEA in 1983. In 1980 I was also invited to become an Instructor of Painting at the School of Visual Arts in NYC.
I was able to give my partners in the contracting business notice in 1979 but the success with Max Protetch created professional pressures to produce I found destructive. In 1984, after two one person shows with Max and numerous group shows, I decided to withdraw from the market place. After four years of working without the demand to finish things, and allowing my art to mature, I joined the Pamela Auchincloss Gallery of NYC in 1988. Over the next eight years I had four one-person exhibits there and established a creative pace that suited me. There were numerous reviews of my work, invitations to guest teach at universities and I became a full-fledged member of the artistic community. I was asked to write recommendations for fellow artists for grants, students sought me out to help them secure scholarships and I was able to help my peers in their careers. I guest taught at Ohio State University, Columbia, and the New York Studio School as well as other institutions.
The changing market and family caused Pamela Auchincloss to alter the nature of her operation in 1996 and I took that opportunity to once again withdraw from showing. My wife, documentary film-maker Beverly Peterson, and I became foster parents to children with Aids, and we adopted an eight year old boy named Andre’ in 1995. Working and living with HIV positive children under great stress brought a terrible beauty into our lives. It also of course informed my work.
With Andre’ in our home I gravitated to an art more accessible to him and his friends and family that came to visit. Actual portraits emerged and we collaborated on several paintings. Andre’ passed away in 1996. I had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 1994 and found my productivity was falling, and in 2000 I successfully completed the difficult treatment. A Pollock-Krasner grant was of great help. I was just returning to the studio again when the disaster of 9/11 struck. We were living one block north of the Trade Center and it was months before I could return to our home and studio. A Gotltlieb award greatly helped in my recovery from the WTC disaster. My own life threatening disease and the WTC bombing changed my outlook on my career. I was now just looking to work and make a life for myself beyond showing and the art world.
My wife and I decided to leave lower Manhattan in 2004 and move to Staten Island. There was no longer any “there” there in Tribeca (Trisurbia) and life had become too expensive and our health was suffering from the proximity to the Trade Center site. Living downtown for nearly 30 years, I had evolved a vocabulary that included the architectural drama of that narrowed part of the Island between the Rivers. This vocabulary enabled me to bring the events that reshaped life in Tribeca into my work. My decision to abandon Tribeca, make the "Crossing" and adopt the surprising environment of Staten Island further informed and enriched my art. After one year on S.I. I was awarded a COAHSI Grant and found a lively supportive creative community here. I had two showings of my work in the Project Room at The Painting Center in 2005-06 that focused on that transition and a show here on S.I. at Wagner College as part of the COAHSI award program. Last year I was invited to show at a gallery in Hudson, NY, and then had a one-person show in September of 2010. R.C. Morgan wrote a wonderful review for the Brooklyn Rail, and the show was successful especially in the response of my peers.
I was invited to print by Oehme Graphics, was invited to show at Scope Art Fair in New York and ArtParis by Saatchi Online, and have been in multiple group shows mostly in Provincetown, and have been interviewed by artists and editors and critics and have had studio visits from artists. I was invited to work with Master Printer Sue Oehme and am showing work done with her in various locations around the country. Fame and fortune are two different things though.
It has been an exciting time these past few years as I allow myself to explore the full range of my artistic history. As a mature artist I find I have this large vocabulary to draw from and the skills needed to restate my imagery in exciting new ways as new forms with old ties emerge. I’m excited by how well advanced painting students at SVA respond to my work and their desire to reinvigorate painting as a vital means of expression. I look forward to what tomorrow holds for me.
San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art
California Center for the Arts Escondido, CA
J.P. Lannan Ftd
William Benton Museum of Art, Conn.
Other Corperate Collections
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