ABBIE WINSON (January 1, 1926—March 26, 2013) lived life as a persistent scholar, an innovative painter, a woman of enormous wit and charm, a femme fatale and truly one of the great original thinkers of her time. Her paintings are powerful, evocative statements. They are highly rhythmic and forceful, suggesting figures and objects in passionate dynamic relationship.
Abbie was born in 1926 in Pittsburgh, moving to Philadelphia, then to the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. Her vast and varied early education included Music and Art High, the Arts Students League, Queens College, Le Grand Chaumier, and then the Sorbonne in Paris, where she studied medicine, shifting her interests to anatomy and medical illustration. She spoke fluent and nuanced French.
Abbie studied painting with Hans Hoffmann, Vaclav Vytlacil, Morris Kantor, Don Stacy, and Leon de Leew in New York and was greatly influenced by the modernists and abstract expressionists, but developed her own dynamic and calligraphic style. Always a progenitor in her intellectual, artistic, and personal pursuits, Abbie did mixed-media paintings before the term was coined. She learned typesetting from Sy Winson, another pioneer in a new field with whom she had three children and eventually married. She then got a pair of master’s degrees, one in Fine Arts, the other in an emerging category, Special Education.
She taught Art, Science, Math, and learning-disabled children. She became involved with computer graphics in its infancy, working on early model mainframe computers with systems so complex that Abbie became the traveling worldwide user guide. She left the field declaring, “Come to think of it, I don’t really like figures revolving in space.”
Primarily, Abbie loved to paint and returned often to large acrylic canvases and watercolors and ink with collage. She exhibited in group and solo shows in New York City with much acclaim (see c.v for details). Moving towards collaboration, she worked with NY art and fashion director, Dwayne Resnick, and explored the synergy of bold, agitating movement of clothing and visual art, the results of which were displayed in several stories of windows on Madison Avenue.
In her 70’s, she took up Chinese calligraphy and the Mandarin language. She traveled to Beijing and collaborated with local painters in ink on paper and as well as fleetingly in soapy water with a long brush on pavement. In her 80’s, she frequently travelled to the Midi-Pyrénées region of France to paint with her friend and former painting student, Petra Tamboer, in a stone barn in Touffailles, developing a modern artist’s retreat.
She worked with her daughter Suzi, son Robert and family art instigator, Brad Miskell, on cover and interior art for modern poetry books, and worked alongside daughter Julie on a soft sculpture on wheels installation of art and monsters (also with Petra) in her beloved Touffailles.
Her most recent work was part of Circus Warehouse’s Aerial Text Experiments 2011, combining text and aerial art for the beginnings of a world-wide poetry movement 100,000 Poets for Change, developed by editor/publisher/social activist Michael Rothenberg. She projected her black and white paintings over dancers and acrobats (in sync with what is now The Hybrid Movement Co. of NY) of the Nouveau Cirque movement.
RARIFIRED AIR, a retrospective of 70 years of Abbie’s work, will show from June 9, 2013 to June 9, 2014.