Sculptor-muse-bon vivant; transparent mini-skirts; Mrs. John Currin says, “His love is on the wall for me.”
Four years ago, Rachel Feinstein was working as a receptionist at the Marianne Boesky gallery, but “certain times of the day would slow down and these hallucinations would come to me,” said the former Bar Six barmaid. She began sketching some potential sculptures: whimsical plaster-and-cardboard concoctions of mushroom stalks and flower vases perched atop dancing ladies. Ms. Boesky took note.
“I want to show you,” she said.
“I can’t,” Ms. Feinstein said. “I work for you.”
“O.K., you’re fired,” Ms. Boesky said.
“The stars had aligned,” the 32-year-old recalled the other day. At a dinner party hosted by Lisa Yuskavage, an A-list painter of big-breasted, titillated blondes, Ms. Feinstein was fortuitously seated next to prominent London gallery owner Tommaso Corvi-Mora. “An incredible man,” she said. “He wanted to come by and see my stuff.”
Mr. Corvi-Mora arranged two solo exhibits of Ms. Feinstein’s work.
“When the lights are green,” Ms. Yuskavage said, “she steps on the gas.”
Ms. Feinstein might get some extra mileage from being married to artist John Currin, whose Whitney exhibit this month includes hyper-real renditions of round-hipped ladies blessed with his wife’s wide face, ethereal blue eyes, blond ringlets and Botticelli bosom. “His love is on the wall for me,” she said. “How great is that?”
These attributes are also on view in the December Vogue , where Ms. Feinstein-currently between shows-may be glimpsed sprawled across a bed, legs kicked up girlishly behind her. But, she said, “it’s terrifying to think I might run out of ideas. I don’t want to be one of those people who rise up and then disappear.”
Ms. Feinstein was born in Miami-“very Wild West in the mid-80’s, like Scarface “-and discovered art in elementary school, taking private lessons in Coconut Grove with pop-psychology books like Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain . Coming of age, she appeared twice as an extra on Miami Vice before attending Columbia, where she studied religion and philosophy. She applied to Yale’s M.F.A. program wearing a see-through plastic mini-skirt and a T-shirt reading “I’m a Satisfier.” Yale passed, but Ms. Feinstein’s passion for personal expression wasn’t doused: When she married Mr. Currin in 1998, she wore a Lucy Barnes gown inspired by Marie Antoinette as a shepherdess, and dressed her bridesmaids in Barnes dresses inspired by The Stepford Wives .
“She knows everybody,” said Elisabeth Ivers, a director at Marianne Boesky. “Extremely friendly.”
Ms. Feinstein is aware of the talk-even among her many friends-that she owes her artistic success to good looks, socializing and her husband. “Sometimes they say really horrible things,” she said. “People say, ‘You’re getting what you have because of him.’ I’m such a loudmouth, and people haven’t liked me.” But she shrugs off these jealous biddies. “I’m pretty tough,” she said. “All successful people are ambitious, and if you’re ambitious, people aren’t going to like you.” Ms. Yuskavage said her friend is very talented. “You can’t lie when it comes to art,” she said. “Look at Rachel’s work for what it is. If you don’t like it, fine.”