Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Getting to say thank you

Jake Grossberg and myself at his 80th birthday party

A few weeks ago I received an email from Di Grossberg inviting me to  
Jake Grossberg's birthday party. She  had found my post about him here and was inviting past students to come to his surprise party. Of course I said yes, wondering how any teacher could remember their students from year to year never mind 30 years. When I walked into his house there was a house full of  former students plus friends already there and that was at the very beginning of the party. It was quite a testament to his influence on so many of us. When I walked up to shake his hand he looked at me and said " Lisa, are you still painting" ( I think I heard him say I still looked that same but that might have been wishful thinking) But oh what a great question!!
I hung around for a while, talked to other students and traded stories, wrote a note in the book Di provided and left. I did have a chance to thank him for all the wisdom he shared and to let him know I am passing it on to my students. It was quite a day. Thanks, Di. 

Sculpture by Jake Grossberg

Still on the subject of influences, I was thinking about artists that I know or have known personally who have the ability to help my work grow and change. One teacher comes to mind quite often and I repeat his advice to my students every time I teach and occasionally to myself when I am fussing around on my work. Jake Grossberg, sculptor, was trying to show me something with Plaster of Paris and I was very hesitant and timid. He looked at me and in his Jewish grandfather way said
"Bubele, you are not making bombs here-it is just art"
Later after I had graduated he was encouraging me to go around NY with my work and I told him I wasn't ready.
His words were "Do you think you will ever think you are ready? He suggested that I think of promoting my work like I was selling salami's. Some people like salami, some don't." He taught me to separate my work from myself and get into a different mind set when promoting......invaluable advice. Thanks, Jake


Bridgette Guerzon Mills said...

I remember the original post from '09! His words about not making bombs always stuck with me and gave me courage as well. Thank you for sharing this in '09 and now. So wonderful that you were able to reconnect!

Anonymous said...

great story. I might have to think of my next series as the Salamis.

Shawn Hill said...

I don't know if I ever took any classes with Jake (he kind of scared me when I was at Bard '88), but it's great to hear he had a big birthday surrounded by former students! You never what impression you'll make one each other in school I guess.

Unknown said...


What a wonderful surprise! Looking for a link to add to my site for Jake, your post comes up first! Also the only one of any substance.

I wish I'd been there. I too think of Jake often. He has been a profound influence on everything I've done.

Good to make contact again with you!


Rebecca Crowell said...

What a great story, and his influence is wide...after hearing you say the bomb thing to your students at CMA, I have often repeated it (as in "Lisa Pressman tells her students...") in my own classes. It really is the greatest advice. I bet everyone who hears it says it often in their own minds and probably to a few other people! Nice to know the background if it. The salami advice is "food for thought" too!