Remembering Cynthia Navaretta

Cynthia Navaretta

July 6, 2020

Cynthia Navaretta, writer, editor, publisher and steadfast voice for women in the arts, passed away on May 18. She was 97. Born Cynthia Green on January 31, 1923, she earned a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University (1948), after having studied at the University of Wisconsin and New York University. In 1953, she married architect/painter Emanuel Navaretta and gave birth to a son, Miles. Emanuel was a founding member of the New York Artists Club, which included Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning and Ad Reinhardt. Her husband died in 1977. Her brother, dancer Martin Green, died in 2003.

As lifelong friend Dorothy Sinclair writes: “One of the earliest female engineers, she deserted that profession to become a leader in the movement to recognize women artists.” Cynthia Navaretta was not only a leader; she was truly a force to be reckoned with! Known for her outspoken and straightforward manner, she did not hesitate to criticize as well as praise. She could be counted upon to be honest with absolutely everyone.

In the early 1970s, she helped found the Women’s Caucus for Art, the Coalition of Women’s Arts Organizations and Women in the Arts. She served on numerous arts committees and boards, such as NYC’s Artist Certification Committee, SoHo 20 Gallery and the Foundation for the Community of Artists. In the late 1980s, she assumed the role of Acting Director of FCA, when its former director stepped down.In 1975, she began publication of the Women Artists Newsletter, which evolved into the magazine, Women Artist News. Circulation eventually reached a readership of 10,000. Contributors included artists such as Joyce Kozloff, Miriam Schapiro, Sylvia Sleigh, Nancy Spero and May Stevens.

In 1979, Navaretta authored the Guide to Women’s Art Organizations and Directory for the Arts. The archive she diligently maintained of women artists in the U.S. (1970-2005) is now housed in the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

By Virginia Maksymowicz