News & Articles
Collage Artists of America
Newsletter ~ August 2022
Laika Cuffs, Dovecote, Fearrington Village, NC, 2016
Erie Art Museum
January - February 2018
Kathleen & Bob Frenzel Gallery
The Bestiary, a compendium of real and imaginary animals, was a popular theme for illuminated manuscripts throughout the Middle Ages. Modeled after an ancient Greek text, Physiologus, the Bestiary featured North African animals accompanied by moral narratives of the beasts’ imagined traits and habits. Vestiges of these images, symbols, and interpretations persist in art and literature to the current day.
Betty Schabacker’s (American, b. 1925) fanciful beasts might have leaped from the pages of the Bestiary. A rhino is rendered in blocky squares of fabric, stained in colors of dust and mud. The graceful necks of two giraffes blend with the dappled leaves of the forest canopy. An owl is feathered with print fabric, its feet fringed. The hippo is assembled from curving ovals, circles and dots, and compressed into a square canvas. A soft sculpture completes the menagerie: a sleepy lion stitched from orangey fabric lying peacefully beside a small wooly lamb.
A military daughter and wife, Betty Schabacker put down roots in Erie after her husband retired in 1965, after decades of relocating from base to base. However, she continued to travel, making two trips to Africa and one to India, where she observed the animals that appear in her collages and paintings. Many of these works from the Museum’s collection were purchased from an Erie Art Museum exhibition in 1985, shortly before Schabacker moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Schabacker has had more than 20 one-person shows, and is still making art at 92. Although she works in all media, she is best known for her fabric and mixed media collages of animals.
Springbok ~ Toastmaster Limited Edition
Fine Art Series by TOASTMASTER
SPRINGBOK an original painting by Betty Schabacker
It’s a unique collector’s item – yet can be used every day by those who appreciate the finest in their home. Only a limited number of these Springbok toasters have been produced – each inscribed with its individual number and accompanied by certificate of authenticity.
Featured in the catalog and Marshall Field window display in Chicago
Erie Times News - Oct 7, 1973
Washington Post - Dec 11, 1973
Granary Gallery, Fearrington Village, NC, 2013
St. John's College Art Gallery, Santa Fe, 1999
St. John's College Art Gallery, Santa Fe, 1990
Lightside Gallery, Canyon Road, Santa Fe, 1993
Erie Art Museum, Erie, PA, 1985
Collage Techniques by Gerald Brommer, 1994
"Schabacker's fascination with animals has taken her to many parts of the world to study examples as subjects for her cloth collages. She cuts and tears pieces of fabric, then colors them prior to glueing them to a heavy support, background pieces first. She creates contours by layering, shaping, and creating the pieces while they are still wet. She then highlights details with paint and pencil."
"Betty Schabacker uses only fabrics in her work. She stains them first, building her highly textured surfaces in layers. The process is both fast and slow, because the initial application of stained cloth pieces is fast, but the detailing and final touches take considerable time and patience."
The Art of Collage by Gerald Brommer, 1978
"Various types of stained fabric are used by Betty Schabacker to create Pale Chanting Goshawk (56 x 46 cm). You can learn much about design by studying her skillful handling of cloth materials."
Collection of Dr. and Mrs. W.C. Priest
"Several kinds of fabric were used by Betty B. Schabacker when she created Cormorants, White Pelican and Saddlebill Stork (91 x 128 cm)."
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Boyd Bert
Pasatiempo, Santa Fe, NM, Jan 1999
"Her work is about texture and relief, and the artist reaches far and wide to achieve her results. This is what you can expect to find in Schabacker's work: modeling paste, straw, homemade paper, plastic scraps of things, items collected from a sewing basket. 'I will put in my husband's old medals,' she said. 'Anything I think will fit.'"
"Schabacker has taken apart old belts to use the buckles and no doubt the leather went in the sewing basket for use at a later time."
"Schabacker works in a studio attached to her Santa Fe home. The workspace is full of objects and scraps of material the artist thinks she may be able to use at some point . . . It's full of treasures."
Erie Times-News, November, 1997
"At the Galleries," Erie Times-News, Feb 17, 1994
"Showcase," Erie Times-News, Feb. 17, 1994
"And most fittingly, even though she is no longer a resident of northwestern Pennsylvania, Betty Schabacker is represented in this representative show with a canvas collage, the medium for which she is best known, entitled 'Two Pelicans.'"
"It was Betty Schabacker who first recognized the need for artists to have a united voice in issues affecting them and in exhibition opportunities for their work. So, in the summer of 1974, we met in the living room of Bob and Betty Schabacker, and by January 1975, we were the NPAA, complete with constitution and by-laws."
"Schabacker, a painter of animals named to 'Who's Who in American Art,' has traveled extensively to study as many types of animals as possible. She characterizes her paintings as having 'whimsy, charm and humor.'"
Schabacker's commissioned work includes a full-size giraffe in porcelain enamel for the Erie Zoo, and her paintings have been used on covers of animal magazines."
Erie Times-News, Oct. 6, 1985
Erie Times-News, Jan. 16, 1980
"Her conviction that her best work comes only after having seen and photographed her wild animal subjects in their natural habitat has resulted in a great deal of travel to some remote parts of the world."
"Although an accomplished artist in many art mediums, including watercolor, gouache,... acrylic,... printmaking, paper collage, banners, porcelain enamels and even her own version of three dimensional semi-soft sculptures, it is her 'cloth collages' of animals and birds that have stood out as a trademark. This style of painting is uniquely her own..."
Erie Times-News, Oct. 17, 1976
Betty Schabacker's show "will include her best work of the past year which is expressed in several forms such as: her usual cloth collages but with new color, 'stand up' puffins, Canada geese in relief, fireplace screens, tile coasters and serving trays, jewelry boxes, watercolors and even some 'straight' work on canvas."
"The colors are muted but happy and there is whimsy - always. She says she cannot keep herself out of her work. Indeed she cannot and for this reason her style is in a way truly biographical. Go to see her work."
Erie Times-News, Sept. 28, 1975
"For Betty Barchet Schabacker, [painting] is more often than not, weeks away from home traveling in search of inspiration and exciting new subject matter."
"Her last two years have been spent concentrating on North American birds and animals. The dry lands of Arizona and New Mexico, the Grand Tetons for moose and elk, the Gaspe Peninsula for the gannet rookery, Machias Seal Island for puffins, the Florida Everglades and Keys for pelicans, roseate spoonbills and osprey."
Erie Times-News, Oct. 7, 1973
"Betty is well known for her warm portrayal of wildlife. Her 'Springbok' painting is perhaps the finest example of this. With skillful use of cloth collage, she was able to vividly communicate the grace and beauty of the slender and graceful gazelle which lives on the open plains of South Africa."
"In reproducing the original painting, a unique screen printing process was used for seven colors, each with solid line gradation. Betty personally approved the silk screens and colors used in producing the Toastmaster limited edition of her 'Springbok' painting, the first in a continuing series, a unique collector's item."
"The original painting now appears in the window of Marshall Field's in Chicago."
"At the Galleries," Erie-Times News, Feb 17, 1994
"In this show will be work in watercolor, acrylic, casein, and in her own style, cloth collage painting - very unique and strictly her own thing. To these styles she has added a new dimension, both figuratively and literally, with cloth collage sculptures. ... Not all artists' talent permit them to swing easily from one medium to another, but Betty manages these switches nicely."
"'My work is connected with my traveling,' says Mrs. Schabacker. 'The last three years I have been caught up with the African wildlife and I have continuously searched to present these handsome animals in paint ... images of African animals which are free to roam in and out of your imagination.'"