I was fortunate to have been invited to Philip Pearlstein's 90th birthday party. My respect for Philip has grown steadily over the years. Even though I had only one semester in Philip's class, I am grateful for having had the opportunity to study with him. His steadfastness to daily painting has had a remarkable impact on me.
The party for Philip was held at Betty Cunningham Gallery who was a gracious and kind host. Philip's short speech was humble and he offered gratitude for the help he has received over the years.
A remarkable career notwithstanding, Philip's work has attracted scorn from many over the years as it does today. I am increasingly impatient with the pettiness of art criticism, and I am especially upset with how little kindness artists show to their peer artists. Of course artists have the right to reject another artist's aesthetic. But quite frankly, had it not been for Philip Pearlstein's contribution to Contemporary Realism, I am not sure the door to painting the figure would have been opened as widely as it is. The bottom line is as my friend Mel Leipzig said that night,
"I owe Pearlstein a lot." Yes Mel I agree but we all owe Pearlstein a lot.