Valley Profile: Dorothy Browdy Kushner

San Gabriel Valley Daily Tribune
“Valley Profile: Dorothy Browdy Kushner”
By Kay Donelson

July 28, 1968

For someone who once balked at taking an art class in high school because it was required, Arcadia artist Dorothy Browdy Kushner has come a long way in the world of art.

“I was never any good at copying,” she says recalling her reluctance to take the class. “But I always had a good sense of color and design.”

The petite artist, who won her first art award in a university sponsored contest as the result of the class, has been collecting awards by the fistful since.

In 1967, she received the Lytton saving Purchase Award and in 1964 the sculpture award in the Pasadena Society of Artists Annual at the Pasadena Museum. The same year she also won second place in oils at the Laguna Beach Art Association show.

I like to work in a lot of mediums,” she said gesturing to the mélange of work that fills her studio.

Semi abstracts of flowers and landscapes in vivid colors rest side-by-side with abstract sculptures and vibrant-hued watercolors.

“I’ll work in oils for a while, then I’ll put that aside and explore something else. There’s no rhyme or reason. It’s just what material is there and presents itself.”

To illustrate her point, she walked across the studio and picked up a sculpture of a mother and child. “This was created out of a tree root,” she said. Then pointing to a vivid blue and green abstract, she explained, that it was done in plastic.

Unlike many artists, Mrs. Kushner finds teaching a stimulus. During the past semester she taught at Rio Hondo Junior College and prior to that was on the staff of Pasadena City College and Arcadia High School.

“I feel you must have experiences with people in order to produce.” That’s why she values the interaction she gets from teaching. Her students, she says, are usually of another generation and that “give you a fresh point of view.”

I learn a great deal from my own son, too.” The Kushner’s son, Robert, is a student at the University of California at San Diego and an accomplished serigrapher in his own right.
The Arcadian, who terms her own work as semi-abstract, has exhibited at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, National Academy of New York, Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institute as well as the Los Angeles County and Pasadena Art Museums.

She is currently working on an abstract painting for the Laguna Beach Art Association’s annual show in November.

Pointing to the work done in bright reds and blues, Mrs. Kushner reflected that her own artistic style as gone through many stages including realistic, prismatic and abstract.

“But even in an abstract I try to incorporate the same principles of design that are used in portraying realism.”

“Too many watercolors,” she continued, “are too accidental. In an effort to emphasize a fresh quality, the principles of good design are overlooked.”

Nature serves as a point of departure for much of her work and her “converted barn” studio, often the scene of informal gatherings, is filled with a mixture of flowers and assorted plants. Even though nature is the basis for the paintings, the landscapes and flowers she creates are not hackneyed.

“I try to give the essence of the flower rather than a pictorial representation of each petal.

“I like to think that my work has a feminine quality yet underlined with strength.”
According to Mrs. Kushner, there is not one thing or person that influences her.

It might be a feeling that all of a sudden begins to perk.” she says.

“When art is sincere you can’t force it but you do move in directions.” continued the former Missourian who received her masters degree in fine arts from Columbia University.

As for the new art of today, she finds it exciting and colorful with strong emotional and visual impact pointing out that her own art is becoming more abstract and realistic at the same time.

Yet she says she finds that she can’t go along with the “soup-can” style of art.

“I haven’t reached the point where I can appreciate it.” she remarked candidly.

Mrs. Kushner’s works are in many private collections as well as in the permanent collections of the University of Illinois, Pasadena Art Museum and the First Unitarian Church of Lo Angeles.

The significance of the current pop, op, et al trend, she believes can only be evaluated with the passage of time.

In the meantime, she concluded, the artist must be aware of what I going on and be willing to grow and experiment.

“”There’s no one way of doing something. There has to be a constant change.”

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