JB Berkow’s Biography

JB was born in 1949 and was raised in an environment that fostered her exceptional talent.  At Walt Whitman High School, which was the number one rated high school in the country, she was allowed to take both her elective classes in art.  Her high school education was so advanced that when she reached college it was a repeat of what she had already learned.  After two years of attending Maryland Art Institute and Corcoran School of Art she decided to quit and just learn by doing.

She had her first one-woman exhibition when she was only twenty-one years old.  Since then she’s had many one-woman shows in New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Florida.  Her work, though, does not easily fit into an established mold.  She paints realistically, yet unlike much hyper-realism being done today, her brand is not cold and analytic.  It imbues warmth and energy.  There is also a sensuality of line that runs through all her paintings.  Some of this is due to the subject matter that she chooses to paint, such as lush scenes of Giverny, Tuscany, and Versailles.  She is particularly well known for her scenes of Venice.

In 2012 she completed a series of Venetian Walls.  Different from her previous Venetian scenes that depict views an entire canal, these works concentrate on the walls only.  By doing this, Ms. Berkow feels that the abstract quality of her work can be seen more clearly.  Because even though she paints realistically, she sees her work as a “stringing together of abstractions” as she likes to put it.  In 2012 she had a one-woman museum show of these works along with a couple of new paintings from her Cloud Collection.

Clouds have always fascinated JB.  However, it has taken her years to figure out how she wanted to paint them.  She never likes doing anything close to what another artist has done, so sometimes she has to figure out her approach to a subject before she actually attempts it.  In the case of her first cloud painting, it was ruminating in her mind for several years before it was ready to come out.  It took almost a year to complete.  It is made up of twenty-three individual15x30 inch canvases.  Over all it measures 8×23 feet.

Recently, JB returned to her first love of figurative painting with a series “The Jealousy Beads.” This collection was inspired by one of her own poems of the same title.   Because it was written as an ode to her favorite poet, Edgar Allan Poe, it is filled with deliciously dark imagery.  These are mixed media paintings, which combine giclee printing, oil and beading on canvas.

Dr. Walter Persigatti, the curator of all the artwork in the Vatican was visiting America to raise money for the completion of the restoration of the Sistine Chapel.  While in the states Ms. Berkow, who is also a gourmet chef, was asked to entertain him in her home.  Of course, it was an honor but what was an even bigger honor was what Persigatti wrote in her guestbook, “It is incredible how your spirit and soul can be expressed in such different ways and with such powerful explosions while at the same time with such gentle introspection.”

Ms. Berkow is also a published poet and author of three books.  She has one son and four step-children and lives with her husband Steve and dog Zouzou aboard their yacht in Jupiter, Florida.