Rhoda Sherbell is an American sculptor whose work has been compared to Rodin's. She has been commissioned by the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY as well as private commissions from Yogi Berra, Casey Stengel, Aaron Copland, among a host of other celebrities. Her sculptures are in the permanent collections of twenty-five museums throughout the country, including the the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Jewish Museum, the State Museum of Connecticut, William Benton Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum. She is a member of the National Academy Museum, and is on the board of the Portrait Society of America. In 1960, Rhoda was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters alongside Philip Roth and Norman Mailer. In 2013, the National Association of Women Artists awarded Ms. Sherbell as Artist of the Year, an award previously bestowed upon such luminaries of the art world as Mary Cassatt and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.
Notes from the show:
She grew up going to Brooklyn Museum of Art; she didn't love Rembrandt's as her father had. She loved the Egyptian rooms; she would hug the giant cat sculptures.
Her father believed you weren't a complete person if you didn't have a fill exposure to the arts and literature.
Her parents wanted her to go to Cooper Union, but the artists she admired were all at the Arts Students League. She asked for, and received, a scholarship, and asked to study with Reginald Marsh and William Zorach.
She was by far the youngest student there in the 1950s, and Zorach took her under his wing and called her "Baby." He quickly asked MOMA to have her teach sculpting during Christmas break.
Rhoda works on a half-dozen to a dozen pieces at a time.
Her focus now is a series called "The Woman's Question."
She was not interested in portraiture until Zorach asked her to do a portrait of him and his wife Marguerite.
She was not and is not interested in commercialism and wonders if it is a fault. She is interested in exploring "truth."
It was tough to be a woman in sculpture in the 50s and 60s. But she became an academician very early.
"You never feel like you arrived. There's always another hill to climb."
Oronzio Maldarelli didn't want her to be in the American Academy of Arts and Letters because she was a woman, and it would be "a wasted vote."
The foundry with which she initially worked would ignore her and only take care of men. She eventually switched to "Roman Bronze."
The owner of the Portland Sea Dogs Boston Red Sox affiliate commissioned her to sculpt "American Baseball Family."
Zorach didn't use tools, but Rhoda likes tools--she will use anything that works.
Rhoda doesn't sketch, because then the sketch becomes the work of art, and she doesn't want to do a second version.
Rhoda would not take photographs of her subjects.
She recommends going to Shu Swamp Nature Preserve in Mill Neck, NY.
She sculpts from memory, sometimes in the near dark.
You should always strive for a "unity of opposites" in line and volume.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is her favorite museum.
Artists must acknowledge and try to connect with an audience.
She loves Pierre Puvis de Chavannes' paintings.
Her discovery that "Las Meninas" by Velasquez was painted impasto.
"Spirit of the Dance" killed William Zorach.
"Artists need a William Zorach in their life."
Rhoda always knows when to stop sculpting a certain piece.
Yogi Berra was lots of fun. His wife was fiercely protective of him. He wanted "Sherbell portrait" like Casey Stengel had.
Percy and Joanne Uris were Rhoda's Medici-like patrons.
The story of Aaron Copland's confused Great Dane.
The camaraderie of MacDowell's Artists Colony and Rhoda's decision to leave.
"To be an artist, you need to know who you are.""
"If you're a person of purpose, you have to say 'My time is valuable, I'm not going to live forever. Protect the time..."
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