Jack Vilinsky was my father and a major influence upon me as an artist.  The images that grace this page of my website are of his work, paintings and sculpture that he did between 1957 and 1990.   This summer I had the pleasure and pain of restoring some of it.  Much of it is for sale.  I welcome email inquiries.  

What follows are recollections, past and present.

My dad and I  were painting pals when I was in high school.
We painted in the summer, on weekends, and from models, in nighttime classes in Paterson, New Jersey.   

Our heroes weren't ball players.  They were artists. 

 "Who do you want to be?"  my dad asked me.  And then he answered, before I had a chance to speak.  "You be Picasso, I'll be Matisse."

During our many trips to the museums of New York City, one stood out in particular, a Hans Hoffman show at MOMA.  It was our good and exciting fortune to choose a day when we encountered the great artist himself, present with a friend, in one of the galleries.

"Imagine that,"  my dad said, as we eavesdropped .  "Someone so old, painting so young."

My eyes were wide.  We were boys in a candy store.

Surprisingly, my own act of rebellion, as a son, came the next year when I when I went off to college and elected not to study visual art.  Instead, I became an English major.  My dad was always for me, so if this bothered him, he never showed it.  But over the next  20 years, I grew distant from his work, less aware and interested.  It took an unexpected epiphany on a trip in Switzerland for me to rediscover a compulsion to paint again and find my way back to him.  

In his New Jersey studio, in his last years, was where I found him.  Happily and sadly, these were our final summers painting together, again.  Soon he would pass away from bone marrow cancer, which I believe was the by-product of his work in fiberglass some years earlier.  

I would not have become the artist that I am today without him.   As he did, so have I moved, from painting to sculpture, and back.  I, too, want to be as restless as he was in his creative inventiveness.   

My dad spoke of his own uncertainty each time he undertook a new work.  Each choice we make as artists, he said, is an investment of time and uncertainty, fraught with ambiguity.  I carry no regrets in my choices.  But I am alive, and that means living with doubt.


I imagine you watching me
from the photograph your last summer
I imagine it yesterday your studio 
you looking up from your watercolor
paper towels crumbled beside you
wondering what you were thinking
as if you could have imagined me now
reaching the final year of your life
and so a generation older 
my own paper towels in hand
some of your best paintings in hand
entrusted kept broken fixed
oh daddy

could you see every brush stroke every brush
every color every flesh tone red yellow
your cool blue greens
all my best to match you my best to save
was that a nod yes 
oh daddy as if you had a choice
with me here your own flesh and blood 
here I am your arms your hands your old tubes of paint
yes I can imagine you rooting for me
you always believed in my keen sense of color
oh daddy

ah you know this isn't so bad after all
the oil paint again after years
and the pigments no end
I could get used to them again 
your little boy in the candy store
eyes wide open the cadmiums 
the cobalts always my favorite
and the lead white so buttery
why is it beauty comes with poison 
ah daddy I have brushed again
in your shadow
and come to know your work 
for the first time

Bobby Vilinsky