We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Berkowitz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, my work was all about taking risks (see the series “Illusions of Risk” on my website). I am constantly finding myself in situations where I am forced to take risks, whether it be in art-centered business decisions, personal relationship choices or constant financial, risk-taking opportunities. I believe strongly that, in order to truly succeed as a creative, one must always be willing to take risks, big or small. I realized during this intensely contemplative time of the global lockdown, that there’s a mental gamble in every choice we make as humans. It’s our own mentality that determines our ultimate fate. During this pandemic, just going outside is suddenly a health risk. When getting food for ourselves and our loved one’s could lead to a risk of infection, the vast perspectives of risk-taking reaches a different level of expansion. Uncertainty and fear are two elements that I am constantly fighting against, as these traits are what prevent us from taking necessary risks in life. If heaven and hell are just mental landscapes of the mind, our souls are free to elevate as they wish without the boundaries of punishment after death. We must try to live rid of the concern for future uncertainties. Living in the present and anchoring ourselves to the NOW is the most important thing we can do in this painful time. My recent painting practice concentrates on the spiritual elements behind risk-taking, fate and chance using natural landscapes as a primary creative resource. The work includes painting, printmaking and photography. Initial inspiration for the work drew from observations of gamblers in Las Vegas casinos, merged with scenery from a cross-country road trip. Additional research led to a deeper exploration of the psychology of gambling, the role of monetary rewards and the seductive properties of colors and symbols. The work also incorporates spiritual symbols to explore the human need for constant affirmation – from mystical divinations predicting fate to lucky objects like amulets. Featuring mountains, rock formations and glaciers, the landscapes themselves play with notions of chance and choice. They depict nature as both a spiritual force and source of contemplation when facing important life decisions. Nature itself is valued as a form of currency. With these thoughts in mind, I have recently produced new paintings, drawings and a photography series focused on anchoring in the present. I have developed the character of the goddess of luck, “La Fortuna”, and have sprinkled historical references to her traits within my new work. Risk-taking with a positive outlook is my intention for the work produced during this pandemic.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have produced a multitude of new artwork created during my time in Quarantine lockdown. I was (quite thankfully) stuck in an artist residency in the South of France for a prolonged period of two months where I lived in the Chateau de La Napoule, thanks to the generous Art Foundation founded by Henry and Marie Clews. There I made a lot of new work highlighting unstable mindsets, mentality and fear in the hope to induce more positive thinking in this dark time. I was in conversation with artists and friends all over the world, and it was sad to see the diminishing of such high spirits. I was heavily influenced by my beautiful surroundings in the Chateau’s castle and gardens, Tarot cards and specific teachings from the mystical texts of the Kabbalah. My paintings have always possessed an energetic transfer that escapes me from deep within. I feel an urge to release this power in the form of visual gifting and I want my audiences to sit and meditate whilst they view my work. I have discovered that, with deep concentration, I am able to transfer strong, inexplainable energies into physical forms of colors and textures. My work reflects feelings, and there are layers to the paint the same ways there are layers to the expressions released. The more my work began to reflect my true, honest emotions, the more positively my audience seemed to respond to it. When there is a strong passion within the art making, the work itself becomes difficult to ignore. I aim to reach audiences of all means, and sincerely hope that my work sparks new thoughts and self-reflections in its own universal language of dramatic, vibrant composition. I am so deeply moved by all art forms, especially music, dance and poetry. In my most recent painting show at Budman Studios in December 2019, I combined these joys with the art opening reception. I constructed an evening full of talented performances in the gallery that resonated with particular paintings on display. What filled me with such happiness was the fact that I was able to draw together a community of loving, caring individuals from all ages and backgrounds. For me, the most important part of being an artist is to bring together people in a means of pure love and authenticity.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
For me, Los Angeles is the best city in the world because it simply has everything. I particularly love the nature aspect of Los Angeles. I would start by a morning hike up Runyon canyon for the Hollywood views, then a drive up PCH and a picnic on the beach in Malibu, away from the crowds in Santa Monica. A museum is always on my agenda when exploring a new city, and I would suggest LACMA in the Summer evenings, where a smooth jazz band often plays on the grassy lawn outside the wonderful contemporary Art exhibitions. There are plenty of museums along Miracle Mile that are worth seeing, including the fabulous Petersen Automobile Museum and the historic La Brea Tar Pits. Nearby, the Grove hosts an LA hotspot, The Farmer’s Market, that has been a food source for locals and tourists alike for decades. The food in LA in general is magnificent, and I would suggest meandering down Third Street between La Cienega and Fairfax Ave. You can find a tasteful array of so many different cuisines, all within walking distance from each other. For an after dinner drink, I would suggest “Bibo Ergo Sum”, a classy retro bar with the best cocktails imaginable. Downtown LA has a thriving food, art and gallery scene, and I would strongly suggest visiting the Broad, MOMA and then heading to Little Tokyo for a delicious dinner. For dancing, nothing beats the West Hollywood lounges that scatter Sunset Boulevard. A personal, casual favorite of mine, is getting late-night al pastor tacos from Leo’s taco truck, permanently parked on Venice and La Brea. I could go on forever when it comes to favorite spots in this city…
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shout out to my amazing Grandparents, Barbara and Norman, for being the most encouraging, loving and supporting people to me when it comes to my artwork. I could never thank you both enough for your warmth, energy and inspiring ways of living life to the fullest. The care and generosity I have been so wonderfully exposed to has made me want to make artwork that carries beauty, overflowing love and vibrant energies.