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 Thomas (Tom) Raphael Yanosky  (1918 - )



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Lived/Active: Arizona/Virginia      Known for: geometric abstraction, etchings

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Thomas Raphael Yanosky
Painter, etcher, constructivist, photographer.
b. September 12, 1918

Artist statement:
“I have always been interested in man, his humanity and his inhumanity.  From primeval times to the present.  History, religions, mythologies, origins of the earth and the universe, sciences and discoveries of men interest me.  Above all, man’s creative faculties as exemplified in art all over the world have always been and still are a great source of wonder to me.
All through my productive years I worked in many diverse media, the most central being oil painting, but also drawing in pencil or ink, many watercolors, acrylics, and constructions.  It was through the constructions that I made use of the craftsmanship I developed building model airplanes.
I was also very interested in etching and had my own press, which I used to produce over 30 copper plates and hundreds of etchings.
My interest in sculpture was never fully developed yet I made numerous small sculptures from walnut.  At one point I acquired about a dozen antique type cases from which I produced many assemblages that suggested African sculpture.
Many of my works were paper collages – all very abstract in structure.”
I was born September 12, 1918 in Colver, PA.  My parents immigrated in 1900 to America from what is now the Republic of Slovakia.  They met in Pennsylvania and married in 1902.
Early Recollections
My earliest recollections go back to the fourth grade when I brought a crudely made model airplane that I made to school.  The teacher placed it on a corner shelf.  In the sixth grade I made a watercolor booklet of several animals that was exhibited in the Ebensburg County Fair (PA) in 1931.  There was a ribbon – the color I don’t recall.
During my seventh grade the music teacher asked the boys to make an ukulele from a cigar box.  Such boxes were highly competitive.  I made the instrument and gave it to Miss Arlene as a gift.  She loved it!  Throughout my teenage years I was always busy building or flying model airplanes and making drawings from magazines and newspapers.
Sometime around 1938, I began painting in oils.  I made my own easel and palette and painted on cardboard obtained from the town trash pile.  The company store provided an endless supply.  My greatest difficulty was coaxing my mother for a few dollars to buy a small oil color set.
School and Studies 1939
In July 1939 I met Mr. Duncan Phillips, founder of the Phillips Memorial Gallery in Washington, D.C.  At that time he had a flourishing art school.  Mr. Phillips showed much interest in my art efforts and offered me a scholarship to his school.  Thanking him for the honor, I told him I had already enrolled at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C.  He replied that the Corcoran is a fine school.
In October 1939, I began my studies at the Corcoran under the direction of Mr. Richard Lahey and later Mr. Eugene Weicz.  At this time I was fortunate to find work in the art department of the Washington Post newspaper.  There I met artists and art students of all sorts from many parts of the country.
Family 1943
In January 1943 I met Elizabeth Mildred Basista of Weston, West Virginia.  She was a legal secretary in the Navy’s Office of the Judge Advocate General.  We were married July 24, 1943.  When our son Thomas Michael arrived in March 1946, it was necessary for me to discontinue my art classes at the Corcoran.  Four years later daughter Rosemary was born.  We have six grandchildren and three great-grand children.
Cartographer by Trade
In January 1942 I was employed in Washington D.C. by the newly formed Army Map Service as a topographic draftsman and drew maps for the European Theater of operations and the South Pacific during WWII.
Interest in Etchings and Oil Paintings
During the summer of 1945 I produced my first etching.  My third etching, “Landscape with Hunter”, 1946, won first prize and $100 at the Outdoor Art Show on the Elipse in Washington, D.C., sponsored by The Times Herald. Sometime in 1947 I printed “A Virginia Countryside”, all bitten line, which was accepted by the national print show at the  Library of Congress and won a purchase award.  It is now in the permanent print collection of the Library of Congress.
During my production of etchings I was also producing oil paintings.  Shortly thereafter I was active in the Washington D.C. art community.  By 1954 I was elected to the Society of Washington Artists and served as president 1967-68.  I also became a member of Artist’s Equity, a national organization of artists.
1964 – Commissioned by U.S. Army Map Service to research (Library of Congress) and
paint the mural, “History of Cartography”.  The mural shows forty-four figures of fame from ancient times that represent people who contributed to the advancement of the art and science of mapmaking.

Art critic Lil Rhodes, in her 1977 article, “The Geometrics of Art” in the Southwest Art magazine, said the mural “depicted 44 important historic figures representing their scientific and philosophic contributions to the development of cartography from Babylonian times to the present.  Meticulous in his research and demanding of himself, Yanosky condensed 2,000 year of cartography into a mural 26 feet long and 27 inches high.  The excellent proportioning of the human figures and the deft handling of perspective reveal Yanosky’s fine grasp of the basics of art.”

1965 – June – Completed and installed the mural, “History of Cartography”, in Erskine
Hall, U.S. Army Map Service, Washington, D.C.  In the 1990’s the mural was moved to the Defense Mapping School, Ft. Belvoir, VA.  The move was necessary because Erskine Hall was undergoing expansive architectural changes.

1966 – 1968 – In collaboration with Navy Chartmakers designed nine-sheet map of the
world that measured 9’ x 12’ when assembled it became the official Department of Defense (DOD) wall map.

1970 – Retired from U.S. Army Map Service
1971 – Moved to Phoenix, AZ with wife Elizabeth.
1978 – June – Moved back East, first to Manassas, VA, then to Reston, VA in 1979.
1985 – July – relocated to Herndon, VA.
September 1, 1996 – Visited Ralph Ehrenberg, chief of the Geography and Mapping
Division of the Library of Congress.  The following donations were made to the Library of Congress at that time:

“Grand Canyon”, framed graphite pencil drawing

Copies of “Painted Desert” and “Hopi Snake Dance”

Index drawing identifying figures in mural, “History of Cartography”.

Items pertaining to my cartographic work – manuscripts, design studies, articles, samples of prototype map printings, miscellaneous drawings.

2002, 2003, and 2004 – Participated in local juried show sponsored by Fairfax County Arts Council, Fairfax, VA.
2007 – In April and May, at the invitation of Don Depuydt, Professor of Art at Loudoun County NOVA Community College in Virginia, I used the print shop facilities and was able to make about 60 new etchings from my numerous copper plates from the1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s.
Currently (October, 2007), I reside in Herndon, VA with wife Elizabeth and am working on portraits of myself and my wife Elizabeth.
Publications and Review of Artist’s Work
Arizona Republic, June 22, 1973.
“Artist Employs Mathematical Formulas in Paintings,” by Maggie Wilson.
Phoenix Gazette, April 10, 1976.
“Trio of Art Exhibitions Offers Excellence,” by Marlan Miller.
Referring to the retrospective exhibit (1959-1976) of paintings by Tom Yanosky in April 1976 at the Thompson Gallery in Phoenix, Arizona, Miller said, “Yanosky’s work ranges from early paintings which are full of organic forms to his recent totally abstract constructions.  More recently Yanosky has been concerned with an interpretation of the Arizona landscape…There is emphasis on the parallel strata of canyon forms and on a depth progression of forms.  There is total recognition of subject but, but it is not a ‘portrait’ of the canyon as such…In many ways the most recent work is the most rewarding.  Here is abstract construction of perfect craftsmanship and mathematical precision.  They are based on the interrelationships of the golden mean with enough deviation to add a decisive human element.”
Scottsdale (AZ) Daily Progress, April 22, 1976.
“The Moving Landscapes of Yanosky the Mapmaker,” by Dr. Harry Wood, Dean of the Art Department, Arizona State University.
Referring to the retrospective exhibit (1959-1976) of paintings by Tom Yanosky in April 1976 at the Thompson Gallery in Phoenix, Arizona, Wood said, “It pinpoints not only the impact of the great sculptural rock-masses themselves, but also the influence of Indian cultures and semi-abstract western muralists like Maynard Dixon, whose work he (Yanosky) admired.  His charted versions of the canyon shapes look like massive keys that unlock space.  In his 1974 ‘Sandstone Sentinels’ for example, one can almost hear the strata slide, like the tumblers in a giant safe.”
“His meticulously designed sculptural reliefs are painted in flat colors, mostly reds, whites, blacks and yellows.  He denies himself curves.  With well-schooled proportions and variable depths, he turns nothing but square corners and considers his work equally related to painting, sculpture and architecture.”
Who’s Who in American Art, 1976
Southwest Art (national magazine), January 1977.
“The Geometrics of Art,” by Lil Rhodes.
Page 39 excerpt by author Lil Rhodes:
“At the beginning of his career, Yanosky was a representational artist.  He produced excellent sketches, etchings, watercolors, oils, pastels, portraits, still lifes and landscapes…”   Referring to the 1976 one-man show held at the Thompson Gallery in Phoenix, Arizona, Rhodes said, “the evolution of the artist’s work was apparent, but the importance of its evolution was second only to the artist’s sensitive and exciting use of color.  The relationship between hues is apparent in his abstract paintings, his non-objective paintings…”
Rhodes continued.  “But what was his route from representational painting to non-objective art to abstract expression?  Yanosky says, ‘Early landscapes and figurative efforts gave way to more abstract works when I began to realize that contemporary art interested me and excited me more than any other form of visual expression.  More especially, there was a sense of freedom that was exhilarating.  In the early 1960’s my attitude and painting style shifted toward the more rational, more controlled architectural and mathematically purer forms of geometric abstraction.  The splashing sweep of the brush, the scumbled edges and heavy textures made way for more play on design, proportions as well as color awareness.’”
“’In 1968, my wife and I visited the Southwest.  We were completely overwhelmed by the grandeur of the scenic wonders, particularly in Arizona.  Shortly after that I began to incorporate into my geometric compositions land forms based on topography alluding to Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon.’ “
According to Rhodes, “in 1971, the Yanoskys moved to Phoenix, where Tom plunged into interpreting the Arizona landscape.  He fully expressed color and light in abstract terms.  As he calls it, ‘in a kind of stylized non-mimetic graphic shorthand.’  His work stressed the remarkable patterning that is evident in the broad horizons, the highland plateaus, the low desert, the valleys and the distant mountain silhouettes.  And he has succeeded.  Abstract his paintings may be, but the landscape is always recognizable.
The Marquis Who’s Who Publication Board
Who’s Who in American Art, 12th edition, 1976.
Who’s Who in the West, 16th edition, 1978-79.
International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England, 1978-79.
 1947 – Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Pennell National Print Show – purchase award, “A Virginia Countryside” etching.
1948 – Phillips Memorial Gallery, Washington, D.C. “Christ Enrobed” oil (lost)
1953 – Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C. 61st Annual Area Exhibition, sponsored by Society of Washington Artists (SWA)
1956 – Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 10th Annual Area Exhibition.  Mr. Phillips purchased “Blue Mosaic”.  It remained in the Phillips Collection until September 1995 when it was sold at auction.

1958 - Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.
22nd National Print Exhibition, sponsored by the Society of Washington Print Makers

1958 -Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 12th Annual Area Exhibition
1961 - Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C. 68th Annual Area Exhibition (SWA)
1962 – Washington Arts Club, Washington, D.C. One-man exhibit – Retrospective
1963 – Artists Mart, Georgetown, D.C. One-man show
1964 – Emerson Gallery, McLean, VA Group show
1968 – George Washington University, Dimock Gallery Sponsored by Society of Washington Artists. Members exhibition.  First Award “Pale Perimeter”, donated to GWU collection.

1971 – Audubon Naturalist Society, Washington, D.C. Artists Interpret Ecology
1971 – Joined Art Wagon Suzanne Brown, Scottsdale, AZ First painting – abstract Arizona motifs. 7th Southwestern Invitational statewide traveling show. Also participated  in 8th and 9th traveling shows. Yuma Fine Arts Association Gallery, Scottsdale Public Library.
1973 – Harlan Gallery, Tucson, AZ One-man show Group show – Suzanne Brown Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ.
1974 – Mary Livingston Gallery, California Group Show Thompson Gallery, Phoenix, AZ
1975 – Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ Four Corners States Biennial Construction:  “Homage to Fibonacci”.
1976 – Thompson Gallery, Phoenix, AZ One-man show 1959 – 1976 Retrospective
Valley National Bank purchased 7 paintings. National Bank of Phoenix bought two.

1982 – Emerson Gallery, McLean, VA One-man show
1985 – July – relocated to Herndon, VA. Participated in juried shows in Grace Gallery and Reston Community Center.
2002, 2003, and 2004 – Participated in local juried show sponsored by Fairfax County Arts Council, Fairfax, VA.
Submitted by Rosemary Yanosky Mitchell on behalf of her father.  

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