So I got an assignment from Steven Heller. (1976)
Steven Heller asked me to come back on the next day at 7 am.I returned to my hotel on 58th Street,while my mother was looking around for an apartment for us to move into.
Next morning, when I returned with the drawing. Steven asked me to make changes. Move this line here, move this line there. On the end the original become one patch over another.
A piece, or a picture of torture. And WORSE: The published piece ,the image was partly traced over.
Steven Heller removed his toes,the carrot head was altered,the bicycle wheels and handle altered , the torso and the carrot top as well
My line which is characteristically strong and fluid was now a staccato.
I was at a loss. This was my first piece of work to be published in the US, a patchwork of sorts.
For all the years I worked in the press, in Brazil, in Australia and even in France, where I was offered a chance, I never had my drawing manipulated or changed by anyone. On the contrary, it was always noted, that I had a style, my own.
It was an irony that I was illustrating a piece on a theme regarding cruelty.
Then on an oblique angle , Steven asked me if he could be of any help to me, about settling down in New York City. He gave me his home telephone number just in case.
So I believed.
I came to New York after being introduced by Mr. Walter Herdeg the publisher and founder of Graphis (http://www.graphis.com/) to Mr. Louis Silverstein the managing editor.
In Brazil, I grew up working for the press. I have the smell of the ink, in my memory until today.....
I saw the changes from the metal, to offset to what it is today and the ever so changing technology for communication mediums. As much as I originally rejected the computer, after a conversation on a hot afternoon, in a restaurant on Madison Avenue, with Rodrigo Mesquita, I returned home and started to write e-mails.
I was friends with the Editor in Chief of the Jornal do Brasil, with the owner of O Estado de S.Paulo, of The Folha da Tarde and other publications. When I left Brazil to Australia in 1970, for three years I corresponded with Caio Graco Prado, publisher of Editora Brasiliense, where I did book covers and illustrations for Monteiro Lobato, best known writer for Brazilian children stories.
The legendary Editor in chief of The Folha de S.Paulo,Claudio Abramo, taught me how to design a newspaper and gave me the job when I was 17 years old. One day Claudio brought me along to buy new fonts for the newspaper. At that time women were not allowed to work in Brazil and Claudio was known for that also.
NO WOMEN IN THE NEWSROOM !
An absolute rule! Claudio broke the rule for me.
Editors would take me out for a lunch or dinner, or "grog".
I have fond memories growing up and mixing socially with men much older than I who enjoyed my company, as we would talk about current affairs, literature, music and art. I did create a lot of jealousy and there was an unsettled intrigue by my presence in this male milieu. And for women, I caused quite a frisson.
Art critics would lend me constant support. In fact, they were always concerned about my vulnerability and that no one should harm me. But that could not be prevented anyway. I was a young woman in a man's field.
I always depended on my artwork and creative skills,
for survival and as an artist .
I would not sway away from my position.
I certainly had a following as my art would open doors for me. My art brought me to places . On many occasions I was approached by powerful men, who for not getting their desired response from me would get very vindictive.
Nevertheless I was very influenced by my parents, who despite losing all in Europe after the war, their upbringing remained a guiding force. Thus, I endured enormous hardship, as integrity was in the way for financial gains as my father lived by his social conscience.
The world after World War 2 become an arena for a Darwinian variation,
Survival of the Crookest. My father had owned great assets, studied in Poland, Germany and Belgium and was a Textile Chemical Engineer and a writer. My Mother was an artist who descended from a prominent rabbinical family and cousin to Max and David Fleischer (The innovative animators, Betty Boop, Popeye....)
But then, I am free. I owe no one for my achievements and since my youth I was earning my way and became the breadwinner as a teenager watching my father’s years of battle towards death.
I have in my heart a profound love for Brazil, where I grew up and relate forever to the country, its emotions and humor. Sometimes I feel like Brazil. I love the Portuguese culture, language and feel a great affinity for the people.
I believed as most in the world until recently,that America stood for professional and human standards, a portrait of immaculate ideals and respect. With this baggage and thoughts I arrived in New York. Not for the American Dream or to change myself into something else. I was already a formed soul with a positive energy , only a Desire to continue on my Path.
I imagined that I would continue my newspaper work, publish my books,work with theater and film,besides my sculpture and painting.
(I have concepts for books, an interest in many areas, and also being a daughter of Holocaust survivors,I have been working for many years trying to recover my mother's steps from the moment that she was forced out from her home and building in Krakow, in 1940,by an officer of the Third Reich to be a slave laborer for A.G.Nobel in Auschwitz- Birkenau and Ravensbrueck, which become a book project)
In no time I found an apartment on 54th Street and Second Avenue.
Steve Heller gave me a list of names and publications to look up.
The first names on the list were Screw, Penthouse, Esquire and a number of porno and drug related publications. At a glance I did not realize what was going on. I was rather shocked as my spirit got hurt. After all I was alone, with my mother as a dependent in New York City which is quite a puzzle and a lonely place, I lost myself in fear.
Soon after, Steve Heller invited me to go out for dinner with him. I imagined that it was a friendly overture and though there was nothing wrong to accept. It was a Friday night and Memorial Weekend. Steve took me to a restaurant in the Village, if I am correct, and throughout the night telling me about his life, background and professional objectives. He mentioned to me that he worked until recently for SCREW, which did not make sense to me, I thought it was something to do with mechanics, and that in order to get into the NY Times he said he had to sleep with the Art Director Ruth Ansel, an older woman.
Steve Heller also warned me against looking up Ruth Ansel, the Art Director for the NY Times Magazine at the time. He also mentioned that he had a childhood friend, that was a son of Holocaust survivors (I learned long time after, that it was Art Spiegelman), who was involved with a French woman (art director for The New Yorker). Steve also was mumbling about Louis Silverstein’s personal life and that he, Steve himself was looking to take over his job. We left the restaurant and Steve drove me around the City showing me where his parents lived, where he grew up and I noticed that he seemed to get quite anxious.
He drove me back to my place and I noticed that he was fuming. He said “I took you to an expensive restaurant and nothing came out of it”. As I left his car and said good bye thanking him for the evening, Steve's car stalled. I was able to hear him shouting some expletives about foreign cars and foreign women.....
It was after this episode, I began to have a difficult time with Steve Heller.
He gave me one more assignment with the same treatment as the first which affected my ability to draw. I was then questioning my own abilities.
For all my life, there was always resilience in me and now, the beginning of an artist’s block syndrome.
I tried to get in touch with Louis Silverstein the Managing Editor who hired me and the person I was supposed to meet in the first place. My communication with him was severed for some reason. His secretary would look down upon me, when I inquired.
The "Cruelty" drawing was published on a Saturday, June 26th, 1976.
Louis Silverstein, without ever meeting with me then and later, wrote for me a letter to the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Department in favor of my visa stating that I am a professional with high standards and that my artwork is outstanding…. "An article on her and her work has been featured in "Graphis" a Swiss magazine on graphic arts with wide international distribution". Miss Bornstein brings to her work unusual talent I believe, and a unique style and a way of seeing that make her drawings extremely effective for graphic journalistic comment. I write this in support of her application for a visa.
The letter was dated July 1, 1976.
In the meantime, I met with Robert Hughes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Studley_Forrest_Hughes), the Art Critic for Time Magazine.
Hughes took me out for lunch and despite one margarita too many, was a perfect gentleman. He gave me some outlines about human characters in New York City that I should be aware of deceitful individuals and wrote a letter to Brendan Gill (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brendan_Gill) suggesting him to introduce me to the New Yorker, as he Hughes, believed that I would be an excellent contributor He also wrote a letter for me to the U.S. Immigration in support of my visa.
I learned on my own going around the City like when I went to the Village Voice, that Steve Heller was badmouthing me. George Delmerico, the VoiceArt Director instantly hired me and told me that he was the predecessor of Steve Heller at the Op ED in the NY Times. He loved my drawings and on my front,
called Steve to ask him what is going on. Steve answered "I messed around with her. Stay away from her"...... I began to illustrate Alexander Cockburn's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Cockburn) column and he got a call from Robert Hughes to find out about why my name was being maligned.
Then I met with agents reps, who all denied me one by one to take me on.
In fact, I met one agent at a party and he told me that Steve Heller intimidated everyone and told them not to take me on. He was Whit Stillman’s (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001775/bio) uncle or relative.
I then received a letter from Steve Heller. He was warning me that I would never make it in New York as he put out the word against me. Steve Heller alleged that he now was a mighty power as he had the NY Times behind him to
keep me out of getting ahead.
I was so distraught that I tore that letter into pieces immediately.
I am sorry for that. Some evidence.
I meet with Milton Glaser (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_Glaser), who also gives me a letter in support of my visa, but does not lend me a hand at all to get a rep or work Milton pats me on my shoulder and said "Courage, courage"?
I met with Herb Lubalin (http://www.myfonts.com/person/lubalin/herb/) . Herb also gives me a letter in support of my visa and features me in a centerfold spread in U&lc (http://www.itcfonts.com/Ulc/4012/) and some other assignments for which I was included in an Art Directors publication. Then a mysterious act happens.
As I always was interested and love Typography and Herb gave me an assignment to create an alphabet for publication in his magazine. I produced the drawings and he sent his assistant to pick up my artwork. I did not hear from him and called the next day. He was furious. He did not get the artwork and could not understand why I blew the deadline. The assistant’s name was Louise Fili.
I was now in a Circle of the Absurd.
As I could not get hold of Louis Silverstein anymore, contacted Charlotte Curtis who tried to intervene for me. Charlotte was the first woman in the NY Times newsroom and was editor of the Op-Ed from 1980 till her death in 1987. But Heller by now created a back up in the Art Department to a point that I could not overcome. He simply did a character assassination of me.
I remember that David Schneiderman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Village_Voice) , Charlotte's assistant then who called me for an assignment and the first thing he tells me is a derogatory remark. “Are you going to seduce me”.
I was never able to get into the New Yorker
And so the Time passes. I always had book projects and concepts but my name was slandered. Without a mentor, isolated in this City, I still battle and hope that I can get published where I should and earn my living accordingly from which I was prevented years ago. I believe that although so many years were lost I am still a creative force and should be heard and my work seen.
In the meantime I always produced artwork, got married and had two wonderful sons.
I watch over them with passion.
Both are my work in progress. My artwork is ever so strong and my wit even more vibrant. A watercolor of mine is on a Brazilian business site http://www.peabirus.com.br/ which was the inspiration for the logo of the site. But I also need to make a living. I depend on my artwork. Besides, I would like to have my name vindicated. Throughout the years I produced significant pieces, won awards. I worked at one percent of my capacity.
And indeed, I am a political cartoonist. If one asks around after all the fuss about women succeeding... I made it to an international level only to be silenced in America. I am tired of living in limbo.
Here is my manifesto.
Why did Steve Heller do this to me?
That is a Human Rights issue.
To denigrate someone innocently.
P.S. In my attempts in the past to communicate with Heller his answer is to anyone :" She is crazy. It is water under the bridge for me"
While he has a fat belly, sitting on a cushion for 30 years collecting honors.
Well the truth should be allowed to speak out.