At the first sitting, Pearlstein asked Verin how she preferred to be portrayed: face or full body? nude or clothed? She left it up to the artist. He procured a wicker chair and a pillow, had her sit, and set up his easel less than a foot away. Verin had chosen to wear a white pleated shirt for the sitting. (Regrettably, her purple hair dye would bleed onto the shirt, and she would end up having to dry clean it every week.)
Each evening session lasted some three hours, and would begin with Verin cooking dinner for Pearlstein and Cantor. (“I think the portrait went on for so long because he loves my food so much,” she laughs.) Then Pearlstein would select a CD from his vast collection, and set the theme of the evening. From there, he would paint. She notes that he was strict, sensitive to her every movement; given his meticulous attention to detail, it’s easy to see why.
While working, Pearlstein would recount stories from his life and formative years in the New York art scene. “Philip has such an amazing memory, and he knew everybody,” Verin says. He told her tales of his 10th Street studio; his time as a Ph.D. student at NYU, where he wrote his dissertation on
; his love of music; and of course, his memories of Warhol. Verin took a tape recorder with her to each sitting, to keep a record of Pearlstein’s recollections. “There’s a story about Andy’s mother saying ‘Can you find Andy a nice Jewish woman?’” she laughs. (She would later write a text, which formed the exhibition catalog for Pearlstein’s current show at Betty Cuningham
. That show features the portrait of Verin.)
“It was the opposite experience of sitting for Warhol,” she says, noting that, unlike his late friend, Pearlstein never uses a camera. “That’s the whole point of his art, it’s all what he sees in front of him.”
She quickly adds with a laugh, “Also, Philip makes me look a million years old and Andy made me look forever young.” (That’s not to say she doesn’t like the Pearlstein painting: “I love it.”)