elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Jack Brusca (1937 - July 31, 1993)

Jack Brusca was a painter who was also a set and costume designer for ballet, including work performed by the Alvin Ailey Company.

Jack Brusca, a painter who worked with an airbrush in acrylic paint, died on July 31, 1993, at Cabrini Medical Center in Manhattan. He was 56 and lived in Manhattan.

The cause was AIDS, said Samantha LePage, a friend.

Mr. Brusca won critical praise when he had his first one-man show, in 1969 at the Bonino Galleria on West 57th Street, for painting that came out of Leger and the mechanistic tradition but was not enslaved to those origins.

At a 1973 show in that gallery, he was lauded by one critic as being "just about as sharp as they come" in the illusionistic representation of sleek three-dimensional forms through a mixture of surrealism, pop and hard-edged neo-realism.

"Beck," 1986, Jack Brusca, acrylic, 75" x 60", Courtesy of the Estate of Jack Brusca

AIDS Quilt

His last one-man show, in 1989, was at the Paraty Gallery in SoHo. His paintings were also shown at several museums and acquired by the Whitney Museum and others.

Mr. Brusca also designed sets and costumes for ballet. His costumes for Louis Falco's ballet "Escarpot," performed by Alvin Ailey Dance Theater at City Center in 1991, won critical praise. He also designed jewelry.

Mr. Brusca was born in Flushing, Queens. He graduated from Flushing High School and studied at the University of New Hampshire and the New York School of Visual Arts.

He is survived by his companion, Mark O'Connor.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/1993/08/02/obituaries/jack-brusca-56-dies-painter-and-designer.html

"Manhattan," 1981, Jack Brusca, acrylic on canvas, courtesy of the Estate of Jack Brusca

"Hybrid," 1979, Jack Brusca, Silkscreen, Signed and numbered in pencil, 28 in. x 28 in. (71.12 cm x 71.12 cm

"The Pool," 1975, Jack Brusca, acrylic, 60" x 60"
What would turn out to be my first home in Fire Island was as unextraordinary as it turned out to be beachily practical. Once indoors it became immediately obvious that these guys did not earn their living in Design & Decoration, like so many of our neighbors, nor did they subscribe to Architectural Digest. Externally, it consisted of two slanted-roof wings in ginger-colored cedar planking, attached to a central living-dining area. Inside, was the same planking although in a lighter shade. Above the large refectory table, a good sized skylight opened to aid circulation from opposing floor-to-ceiling glass doors. The bedrooms were rectangles just large enough to hold a double bed, with a closet. John’s room had its own bathroom with a tall shower, and backed onto the kitchen, and was thus bit more private. Jack and Frank’s rooms were in a wing across the spacious center and they shared a bathroom. The kitchen was in dark greens and reds. Functional. Two pieces of art decorated the barely furnished—couch, two rattan chairs, a few lamp tables—living area: a brightly colored parrotlike papier-mâché sculpture upon one wall, and a pop-art painting of a slice of American flag and the right half of someone’s face. I later discovered these had been brought out by their creator: house guest number one Jack Brusca. One deck held wooden chairs and a table.

The entire place looked simple and masculine and I said as much to Frank and Jack. They’d evidently been out late Friday night and looked not totally awake when I arrived and they unhelpfully grunted in response.

It was the oddest meeting of future house mates. John and Randy vanished into John’s room to fuck, while Jack and Frank ate breakfast, made plans succinctly for the rest of the weekend, and occasionally would ask me a question, although they barely heeded my answer. I found both men to be dauntingly handsome, although in distinctive and individual ways, and ultrabutch. Jack, with his sculptured head, close-cut curling hair, and prizefighter’s face—large soft eyes, broken nose, and sensuous mouth—took the breakfast dishes and began washing them. He wore tight fitting shorts and a loose A-shirt which couldn’t help but show off his lithe compact body and catlike movements, his heavily muscled arms. Frank, meanwhile brooded darkly over a third cup of coffee, brushing crumbs out of his luxuriant black beard. He was more muscular than Jack, with a “Draw Me and You Too Will Become an Artist” conventionally dark-eyed beautiful face that defied precise ethnicity. Both men were much photographed later on and Frank’s head and torso would be photographed and drawn by David Martin to represent Zeus, king of the Gods, in my retelling of the Ganymede legend, An Asian Minor.

For the moment, however, I was made to understand that Frank Diaz was the number three person in the tonily successful New York Endowment for the Arts. While the other roommate, Jack Brusca’s art had become so successful, that he’d been commissioned by the government to go to still abuilding jungle capitol Brasilia and put up a hundred-foot sized sculpture.
Like myself, Jack had to battle his family’s wishes and plans in order to become an artist. That lack of parental support continued to breed insecurity. It galled him, remaining internalized for years, but making every tiny defeat he encountered more bitter, and every step forward more gratifying. Even so, whenever Jack and I met he was always filled with future plans and recent successes—he was doing murals for a ministry in Sao Paolo, he’d had a museum show in Mexico City, he’d just designed the costumes and sets of Roland Petit’s ballet corps—filled with optimism, and that is how I best remember him now that he’s gone --True Stories by Felice Picano.
Further Readings:

Jack Brusca: paintings
Pamphlet: 8 pages
Publisher: New York, Galeria Bonino; 1ST edition (1969)
Language: English
Amazon: Jack Brusca: paintings

True Stories by Felice Picano
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984470778
ISBN-13: 978-0984470778
Amazon: True Stories

From author Felice Picano, co-founder of the path breaking Violet Quill Club, comes a new collection of memoirs, many of which have never appeared in print. Picano presents sweet and sometimes controversial anecdotes of his precocious childhood, odd, funny, and often disturbing encounters from before he found his calling as a writer and later as one of the first GLBT publishers. Throughout are his delightful encounters and surprising relationships with the one-of-a-kind and the famous-including Tennessee Williams, W.H. Auden, Charles Henri Ford, Bette Midler, and Diana Vreeland.

More Artists at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Art

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Tags: art, gay classics

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