Local artist Robin Amy Bass discusses her inspiration
by Michael Perlman
Mar 14, 2017 | 3544 views | 0 0 comments | 97 97 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Forest Hills is home to a number of talented individuals. They include artist Robin Amy Bass, a regular at Red Pipe Café at 71-60 Austin Street, where her work is often on display for purchase.

“Art is another way to express a feeling when words don't seem to be enough,” she explains.

Bass was raised by her parents in a humble Tudor house on 110th Street between 70th Road and 71st Avenue with her brothers Andy and Peter. She attended Solomon Schechter Day School, Kew-Forest School and Finch College.

“I was a creative kid, who sang, danced, played the guitar, and loved art, but being forced to wear a uniform and look like everyone else really destroyed my spirit,” she recalled.

So she spent hours in her room, strumming her guitar and doodling in textbooks. Her mother referred to it as “daydreaming.”

“I was accused of daydreaming since second grade, but in Solomon Schechter it was encouraged along with using one's imagination,” Bass said.

Bass has a passion for creating colorful collages and abstracts or faces of girls. A personal favorite is titled “The Art of Being Me.”

“It featured a background of ripped stenciled deli paper, giving it a stained glass look, with a focal point of a girl, coffee cup, and cat,” she said.

She also enjoys drawing whimsical cartoon-like cat characters using her four cats as an inspiration.

“I call my apartment Hairball Alley,” she said. “Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and draw or paint, and in the morning I don't recall much, but there’s evidence that I have been at it again.”

As a child, Bass took lessons with Mrs. Forte, who operated a studio in a private home nearby.

“I made my first collage in the first grade, and it was framed and hung by my dad in his waiting room,” she said “I was thrilled!”

Her father, pediatrician Dr. Richard Bass, was also a creator of sorts. He was one of the first doctors to explore the “group practice” concept.

“My father was considered an excellent diagnostician, had a sixth sense about a child's condition, and always went the extra mile,” Bass recalled of her father, who passed away in 2012. “He embraced networking, medical advances, and good old-fashioned kindness and concern.”

Dr. Bass was a graduate of Erasmus High School and Cornell University and began his practice in 1951 in his family home, where the front den was two examining rooms.

“All went well until one day my brother Andy hit a softball through a window in one of the examining rooms, but luckily the newborn my father examined was not hurt,” Bass said.

A month later, the practice moved across the street to the St. Moritz at 108-48 70th Road.

“My father took in a partner, Dr. Karl Neumann, and eventually Dr. Reuben Reiman and Dr. Josef Soloway joined the practice,” Bass said. “This made him more available to family life, since he was always on call during the days.”

This also allowed him to dedicate more time to hobbies, including tennis, theater and art collecting.

Bass was exposed to Picasso, Frank Stella and Marc Chagall by her father, an avid museum-goer.

“Perhaps because of my father, I never cared for sad paintings, serious portrait work, or anything gloomy,” she said. “I never saw the beauty in the Mona Lisa, although I tried to imitate that smile a thousand times.

“My father would sit on my bed and sing the Cornell alma mater with hopes that I’d follow his footsteps, but instead I dragged a table in front of his office to sell lemonade to his patients,” Bass continued. “Then when I found success at Nola Recording and Jennifer Convertibles, my father understood that I had to follow my path. As a teenager, my dad would ask what I wanted to be, and my answer was always the same, ‘happy.’”

Bass is completing a children's book titled “Hairball Alley -The Story of The Big Girl and The M-Cats.” She has some pieces of advice for aspiring artists. “Everything is art,” she said. “There are no mistakes, but happy accidents and creative opportunities, so keep exploring and you will get better. Do not be intimidated by others.”

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