For artist and author Sadie Penzato, 84, there are two houses that have loomed large in her life. The first was in New Paltz where she grew up, an early 19th-century structure that today houses the Inn at Kettleboro on Route 208. Penzato wrote about her childhood growing up in that house in the 1930s in her self-published 1991 memoir, Growing Up Sicilian and Female, later adapting a part of the book into a musical. The second house is the current one, an 1871 Colonial farmhouse on six acres in Highland that retains many original details, including a fireplace in the kitchen. Penzato moved into the home 25 years ago after 33 years of living in Marlboro. The property includes a barn converted into a painting studio.
Although always artistically inclined, Penzato didn’t begin her formal art education until age 31 when she enrolled at SUNY New Paltz as an art major. She went on to earn five degrees: first an undergraduate and master’s degree in art education from SUNY New Paltz along with a degree in administration, and later, during a sabbatical in the 1980s, Penzato earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in education at Columbia University in New York City.
She was a high school art teacher in the Marlboro district for 20 years — her students will remember her as “Mrs. Stellefson, the art teacher,” she says, since she used her married name back then — and under that name as well as her birth name, Penzato, Sadie has produced a lifetime body of work exhibited since 1964 through galleries that include the Ann Leonard Gallery and Rudolph Galleries in Woodstock. Her work is also in many private collections, including those locally of Rosemary Lyons of Marlboro and Gloria Turk and her son Steve Turk, owners of Rocking Horse Ranch, which as it happens is located right down the road from Penzato’s home.
Now Penzato is selling more than 60 of her paintings and the art supplies, too — even the easels — in a two-week-long barn sale. The paintings are primarily figurative works, many done of family members or students. Most are painted in oils over an underpainting of acrylic. She has also painted a good deal of canvases involving non-figurative elements that include cows and chickens, and a series of empty rocking chairs poignantly suggestive of their owners. (Penzato sold 17 paintings in that series, she notes.) When asked which artists had most influenced her, Penzato mentioned Henri Matisse and Paul Gauguin. Her use of broad planes of color and her approach to brushwork along with a similar frame of mind in how the painting is organized does indeed call to mind the two Fauvists, although the end effect is definitively her own.
The public is invited to come view the works and purchase anything; most of the paintings will be priced no higher than $300, although a few of the oversize works may cost a little more. The sale will be held on her property at 582 Route 44/55 in Highland Saturday, September 12 through Sunday, September 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The driveway will be marked with a sign and balloons. To ensure she’ll be there, call ahead at (954) 695-4274 or (845) 691-7268.