Art history- Jack Brusca.
(1939 – 1993)
Jack Mitchell/Getty Images
Many artists have found their way to the Pines. Some for fun, sex, inspiration, or all of that combined. Artist Jack Brusca was just one.
Born in New York in 1939, Brusca studied at the University of New Hampshire and The School of Visual Arts, New York. His first one-man show was held at Galeria Bonino in New York in 1969. Since then his works have been displayed throughout the United States and South America. He has participated in numerous exhibitions including Expo ’67, Montreal; Paintings and Sculptures Today, Indianapolis Museum of Art and Highlights of the Season at the Larry Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, Conn.
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.
Jack Brusca’s ability to interpret the natural wonder of ordinary things and ideas is the major reason he is so highly regarded in today’s contemporary art world. As an illusionist who manipulates letters, numbers and flowers among things, Brusca’s keen sense of spacial dimension and color blend to give his work a theatrical-type light. As John Canady of The New York Times wrote:”… (Brusca’s) geometrical forms are painted with a degree of illusionism that makes a metal band seem to arch away from the wall, turning the painting into sculpture”.
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.
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.
Jack Brusca died of AIDS in 1993.
Jack Brusca would take his place in Fire Island Pines history as the designer of the new Pavilion logo in 1980.
True Stories by Felice Picano.
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 ––