I met artist Dina Gustin Baker 20 years ago. She was absolutely stunning and very glamorous. Dina was always impeccably dressed and perfectly coifed. Her lovely smile was always broad and contagious, and her energy level high. She was one year away from 70 years old. When I saw her paintings, I could see how they matched her personality — vibrant, dynamic, joyful and beautiful. I became her ardent fan and she became my friend.
I recently attended a show of her wonderful paintings at the Lawrence A. Sanders Foundation Gallery, in the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. This show came on the heels of a Retrospective Show from 1940 – 2012 for Dina at the Walter Wicksier Gallery in Manhattan, which garnered her a wonderful review in Art News Magazine.
I always enjoy spending time with Dina and leaning more of her extraordinary life as an artist. She grew up in Philadelphia, the granddaughter of a rabbi. She attended Tyler School of Art, Temple University, and studied at the Barnes Foundation. A scholarship to the Art Students League brought her to Manhattan, and rounded out her impressive artistic training.
While in New York, Dina became one of the few women to be accepted as a member of the famed Artist Club. Members included Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston, Adolph Gottlieb, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Ad Reinhardt, and Mark Rothko. They created the movement called abstract expressionism.
Dina came of age as an artist in this post World War II America, a time when America was made up of cowboys and heroes and a time when the center of the art world remarkably shifted from Paris to New York. She tells me of parties and dinners with the great artists of the day in Manhattan and Long Island.
Over the years Dina produced paintings displaying her talent, experience and instincts using color and broad, sophisticated strokes. Her work has earned her showings in prominent national and international spaces, as well as notable public and private collections.
Today Dina is almost 90, and I can’t keep up with her. She is active in artists groups and civic organizations, and she paints in her fabulous Florida studio everyday. Art critic Dominique Nahas says “Dina Gustin Baker has achieved what only artistry of the first-order dares to attain: the creation over a lifetime of unforgettable paintings that resonate with impassion grace, clarity and authenticity.”