Barbara Rachko is an American contemporary artist, blogger, and author who divides her time between residences in New York City and Alexandria, VA. She is best known for her pastel-on-sandpaper paintings, her eBook, “From Pilot to Painter,” and her wildly popular blog, “Barbara Rachko’s Colored Dust,” which grows by 1,000 – 2,000 subscribers each month.
Barbara has led an extraordinary, inspiring life. She learned to fly at the age of 25 and became a commercial pilot and Boeing-727 flight engineer before joining the Navy. As a Naval officer she spent many years working at the Pentagon and retired as a Commander. On 9/11 her husband, Dr. Bryan C. Jack, was tragically killed on the plane that hit the Pentagon.
Barbara uses her large collection of Mexican and Guatemalan folk art – masks, carved wooden animals, papier mâché figures, and toys – to create one-of-a-kind pastel-on-sandpaper paintings that combine reality and fantasy and depict personal narratives. In 2017 she began work on a series called, “Bolivianos,” based on her stunning photographs of a mask exhibition seen at the Museum of Ethnography and Folklore in La Paz. Her pastel paintings are bold, striking, and powerful. For more than three decades, Barbara has been “Revolutionizing Pastel as Fine Art!” Barbara is represented by galleries in the United States, Europe, and Asia, exhibits nationally and internationally, and has won many awards as a professional artist.
Contemporary art collectors, Cheryll Chew and John Frye, remark, “We often wish we knew exactly when we first saw Barbara’s work. We remember looking at it and being stunned, knowing that one day, by hook or by crook, we would own a piece of her work. We would not rest until something of hers was in our home. We remember thinking that we should not talk to Barbara. We should not be able to talk to somebody whose brain and heart and hands created that work.”
Renee Phillips, Director/Curator, Manhattan Arts International, NY, NY says, “With each pastel painting Barbara Rachko leads viewers to a new and compelling world of discovery and enchantment. Her inimitable interpretations of unique subjects, bold use of colors, and profound symbolism, combined with her extraordinary technical proficiency, have earned her a much-deserved distinction as a leading pastel painter of our time.”
Colin Taylor, director of London’s Galleria Balmain states, “Galleria Balmain discovered Barbara Rachko’s art by happy coincidence. There was an immediacy when we saw the surreal, distinct and other worldly images in the ‘Black Paintings’ series. The detail and symbolism of the characters is in sharp focus to the surrounding black pastel background. There is no escaping the dialogue that begins with each piece to understand its meaning or the connection the viewer has with each. This direct concept style was created from several artistic mediums and religious influences that Barbara has realised and pared down over time, in her own impressive, stimulating and thought-provoking style."
New York critic Peter Dellolio remarks, “It is undeniable that, like de Chirico, Barbara Rachko has created a unique, original, and very private landscape.”
Arts writer Ann Landi says, “Barbara Rachko’s antecedents are not in the folk art traditions of the cultures she studies and embraces, but rather in the sophisticated strategies of Henry Matisse (who was a master at mixing patterns) and Edgar Degas (who exploited the power of oblique angles and cropped figures).”
Dr. Lisa Paul Streitfeld, “New Media impressario”, explains, “If Andre Serrano were a painter, he would do a Barbara Rachko. Indeed, the advent of an erotic consciousness that Serrano initiated in the hyperrealist medium of photography now extends to canvas; Barbara Rachko newly interprets painting as the subject/object ‘capturing site’ of the 360-degree perspective.”
“Your work is majestic. So unique for an American artist. It has all come together to bring a special style and both an elegant and powerfully noble vision. Wish we had more of those qualities in today’s world,” states Elliot Cuker, actor and businessman.
Artists.com proclaimed: “Rachko has done a spectacular job at allowing viewers to understand her, her approach to art, and her techniques. The diversity of her background and experiences has certainly had a significant effect on her unique and remarkable approach to art, and her ability to consistently create such important works.”
Hear Barbara's Yale Radio Interview.