Tuesday, March 20, 2007


If you own one of her paintings or drawings or collages or prints you should be thankful.

Has she reinvented painting like Braque and Picasso or Pollack and de Kooning? Not to that extent.

Has she created a unique body of work? Absolutely.

Is it all first rate? You bet.

Could I live in a house where the walls were hung with only her art? I’d love to be given that opportunity.

Can she live off her art? Minimally, with periods of much struggle and financial angst, for someone who has never cared for material things or owned much more than old men’s clothes to work in (paint, print, etc.) and a few party dresses in the old days.

She spends all her money on materials for her art, and the renting of climate controlled storage spaces for it (for the volume of her creativity she should be renowned, not even counting its quality), and whatever sparse living quarters she happens to be occupying, and for phone calls to buyers and other parties interested in her art, and to her friends for support.

She is the most dedicated creative person I have ever known, as well as the most unique, (not to mention a great friend for the past forty years).

When she still worked as a waitress in the old Howard Johnson’s in Times Square, where she befriended various musical creators dropping in between sessions on MTV around the corner, I kept expecting some perceptive writer to do a profile on her for The Talk of the Town section of THE NEW YORKER, or some human interest story in THE DAILY NEWS, or critic to discover her in the Arts section of THE NEW YORK TIMES.

But all she did was slave in that joint to pay for her one room crib in Queens, or wherever, and the storage space for thousands of prints and collages and watercolors and paintings and drawings, just the ones she kept in Manhattan.

Like a lot of us, she has trouble playing whatever game is seemingly necessary at the moment to be noticed or accepted or elevated to the attention of those few—and they grow fewer with every passing day—who control what most of us get to see or hear about that’s going on in the “arts” let alone the world (doesn’t it always amaze you, as it does me, that with all the channels we now get, the news stories always seem to be the same ones, or variations on the same theme for the day?).

But whatever the reason, or reasons, for her relative obscurity (and I’m as guilty as anyone, I just went back and added her to my “women artists” list because she is my favorite woman artist period and somehow I left her off when I first made that list) in terms of the greatness of her art, those who know anything about creativity, especially painting and drawing and collaging and printing, know Sylvia Schuster deserves a place in the pantheon of the great creative forces of our times.

She’s in mine.


Marty Brandel said...

Well, how do you say it? How can you tell someone about a Giant? Thanks, Michael, for the beautiful things you said about Sylvia. She has more energy than any two people I know and moves mountains on a daily basis. It's a will power made of steel that drives her through obstacles that would stop others cold. Her talent is monumental. The power in her work is breathtaking. You've got to see it, I can't tell you a feeling. Besides all this, as with her father, a man with more integrity than any human being I've ever met, her talent is equaled by a high development of character and moral values that shine as mankind's best. Having lived together for twelve years over twenty years ago, she remains my closest and best friend with a purity that is remarkable.

Marty Brandel

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the sweet words about Sylvia. She is such a dynamic artist. I am so happy that we are still in touch after all these years, from the days in Iowa City. I wish she would agree to visit Los Angeles, but she actually told me the idea of earthquakes was a problem for her. I had to smile.

Anonymous said...

Sylvia is a like a force of nature—powerful and pure. I agree that her work is of major note,and one has to wonder why such a talent hasn't become better known to the general art world. Well someday. She's also a great dancer a real friend.


David Sanderson said...

Hmm - contact information for Ms. Schuster, perhaps?


Anonymous said...

I have two prints "Heads" and "Head with Hand" by Sylvia which I purchased when she was at the University of Iowa. I love them both for the power and strength they evoke. Often guests will ask if I want to sell them...

Anonymous said...

Sylvia is a great artist, an outstanding,loyal friend. We accept her as she is because there is no one more caring than Sylvia. Her work speaks for itself.

paul brown said...

I posed for Sylvia in 1970, maybe, at the University of Iowa..
What an experience that was! I remember it being so difficult I left my body and drifted up to the ceiling and watched the whole process. Sort of a reverse Sistine Chapel process.
Sylvia and her slip tops and cutoffs, decades before Madonna wore that same look.

I adored Sylvia and would love to talk to her.
Paul Brown paul@thequietpath.org

mike said...

I am so fortunate to have met Sylvia in Iowa City in the 1990's, but didn't realize it at the time! She is a most unusual person, with a large heart and a loyal friend...especially to those who most need such a friend. She sold many of her remarkable works to some of the food servers who worked in a restaurant I managed in Iowa City; she had a special place in her heart for restaurant workers like herself (at the time). I have several of her collages, prints and ink drawings, and they truly are remarkable and make a bold statement in our home. I feel fortunate to have so much of her work to enjoy. I would also like to see her get more recognition, but she never seemed to care much for that, as long as she was able to continue to create, and that her friends enjoyed her work. I'd love to see more of her work displayed on the web, so we can all learn more about this remarkable and prolific artist!

Bill Hutchinson said...

have owned for many years a classic "head" portrait by Ms. Schuster that I must part with as I am leaving the country on August 1. Such works typically sell for $9-12,000. I would be happy with $5,000 and the knowledge that the piece has found an appreciative home. I intend for 20 percent of the proceeds to go directly to Ms. Schuster. The work is mixed media on paper, 24-by-35, signed lower left, handsomely framed. Please let me know if you are interested.

Mauro said...

I saw on a blog your interest on Sylvia Schuster. You might be interested in these:


Thank You

Matt Wagner said...


Pat Lueck said...

hmmm... I just scanned the internet to create an info sheet for a Schuster print (1985) I am framing.

Found these blog comments. Great!! We have 8 or 10 early Schuster etchings (80's); we have enjoyed them for years.

pat -- pjlueck@tonkaprints.com

PS. In the last scene of "Sideways.." the actors enter an apartment with a large Schuster head print...displayed prominently on the wall!! What a treat that was!! A great (personal) ending to a great film!