Every once in a while, a teacher comes along who changes lives. From all accounts, Brenda Atwood Pinardi was one of these.
Pinardi was a fixture in the art department—as both professor and chair — for 35 years before her death last year. Colleagues and former students are planning to honor her at two upcoming exhibits. The first, “Myths and Mysteries of the Heart,” is a memorial retrospective of Pinardi’s work, which will be available for sale at fixed prices. This exhibit will run from Sept. 1 to Sept. 23 at the University Gallery, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Brenda Atwood Pinardi Scholarship Fund.
The second showing, “In Remembrance: A Tribute to Brenda Atwood Pinardi,” will be held at Dugan Gallery from Sept. 1 to Sept. 10, and will include donated works by alumni, artist friends and faculty. A cocktail reception and silent auction are planned, with proceeds to also benefit the scholarship fund. Both exhibits are curated by Pinardi’s dear friend and art writer, Francine Koslow Miller.
“Brenda’s paintings reflected her view of the world – a place of magical possibilities on canvas,” says Art Prof. Arno Minkkinen.
For Gallery Coordinator Michele Gagnon, the upcoming exhibit is a fitting way to honor the artist’s contributions to so many.
“The exhibit and auction will honor Brenda’s memory, pay respect to her and celebrate her life as an artist and educator,” she says. “Throughout her years here, she touched the hearts and minds of more than 800 students and budding artists.”
Pinardi and her husband Enrico (Henry), an art instructor from Rhode Island College, each went beyond the traditional role of teacher, and became – to a lucky group – more like parents. Doug Bell—a former student of Henry’s—describes spending time at the couple’s Hyde Park home.
“A few of us would visit them for the weekend, and in return for yard work, Brenda would prepare wonderful meals for us – we’d stay up until all hours working on our artwork in their studios,” he says. “My father died in the ‘80s, and I turned to Henry. Then my mother died a few years later, and I turned to Brenda. Since then, I have considered them my parents.”
Former Art Department colleague Jim Coates remembers Pinardi as a mentor.
“Brenda was chair when I was hired,” he says. “She was extraordinarily generous with her time and showed genuine patience and compassion. I’ve often described her as the glue that held the department together.”
For former student Jay Kamins, Brenda’s voice is a powerful memory.
“Whenever I think of Brenda, it’s her voice that first comes rushing back – her tone was buoyant, relaxed and accepting,” he says.
“Last week, I spent some time in her old studio, seeing everything as she left it a year before. Collections of every sort filled the room – including playful assemblages of shells, old dolls and unusual objects found from years of hunting with Henry. On her desk, CDs of Elvis, The Doors, Bob Dylan. Off to the side, brushes are lined up, well cleaned and ready to go,” he says.