Richard Pionk, Salmagundi Club president, dies at 71
By Albert Amateau
Richard Pionk, artist, teacher and for the past 13 years president of the Salmagundi Club in the Village, died June 5 of cancer at New York University Medical Center at the age of 71.
Among his many awards were the title of Master Pastelist, conferred in 1984 by the Pastel Society of America for exceptional merit, and his induction in 1997 into the Pastel Hall of Fame. One of his pastel portraits is in the permanent collection of the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio.
A renowned teacher, his classes at the Salmagundi Club, the Art Students League and the Pastel School at the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park were regularly oversubscribed.
“He mastered many mediums but his language of painting was simple, so his students learned quickly,” said Gary Erbe, a painter and honorary member of the Salmagundi Club.
Born April 26, 1936, in Moose Lake, Minn., to Ester and Ignatz Pionk, he served in the Navy and studied briefly at a Franciscan monastery in Missouri before coming to New York where he studied at the Art Students League on scholarships and the G.I. Bill.
His work has been featured in several art magazines and he exhibited at the Hermitage Museum in Norfolk, Va., the Monmouth Museum in New Jersey, Lever House and the Union Carbide buildings in Manhattan and galleries, including Oak Tree and Grand Central in Manhattan and the Society of Pastelists in Lille, France.
He was also a board of directors member of Allied Artists of America and a member of Hudson Valley Art Association, Knickerbocker Art Association, National Arts Club, American Artists Professional League and Dutch Treat Club. He was also a trustee of Pastel Society of America, Artist Fellowship and Audubon Artists.
The Salmagundi Club, founded in 1871 and named after a collection of humorous anecdotes written by Washington Irving, is planning a memorial for him in September at the club, at 47 Fifth Ave., at a date to be announced.