Joan Brown

August 30, 2013, 11:25am

Joan Brown: Artist Out of Water

The San Francisco painter Joan Brown achieved international recognition when she was scarcely out of her teens. By 1960, the same year she graduated from the California School of Fine Arts (now SFAI), she was represented by a major New York gallery, and was one of thirty-six artists included in the Whitney’s Young Americans exhibition. But even as she worked in San Francisco among a burgeoning cohort of fellow artists that included Elmer Bischoff, Jay DeFeo and Manuel Neri, Brown’s work developed in the following decades in a way that was distinct from others. Thinly brushed lines of enamel replaced her signature thick oil application, and shifting concerns in composition and tonal contrasts followed. However, themes within her imagery remained consistent even as her style evolved—namely, the reoccurring motif of water. Although many other California-based artists are known for their water-themed works—David Hockney for his swimming pools, and Richard Diebenkorn for his aquatic-framed cityscapes, among others—this running theme throughout Brown’s work is rarely given critical attention in the same way. - Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor

Joan Brown, Rio Vista, California, 1971; Courtesy of The Joan Brown Estate

Listed under: Noteworthy

October 31, 2011, 8:15am

Joan Brown at the San Jose Museum of Art

One of Joan Brown’s first encounters with art was as a Catholic high school student in San Francisco. It mainly consisted of calendar covers in her Christian family living course. She later said of her parochial education: “I [knew] that this was just one tiny bit of what there was, and that I just had to get through this—get old enough is what it was—and get the hell out of there.” After graduating, Joan submitted a few pencil sketches of movie stars to the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) on a whim, and was admitted in 1955 at the age of seventeen.

Listed under: Review, San Francisco

October 19, 2011, 9:05am

Jay DeFeo at Hosfelt Gallery

In 1959 Jay DeFeo and her then-husband Wally Hedrick received a letter from Bruce Conner, inducting them into the Rat Bastard Protective Association, of which he was the President, and suggesting that they start paying dues. Other original members included Joan Brown, Manuel Neri, and Jess Collins. The group of about eight artists exhibited together in San Francisco throughout the 50s and 60s, meeting every couple of weeks at each other’s apartments and studios. They formed at a time when the Beat artists were gaining prominence in San Francisco, and began to be somewhat of a spectacle.

Listed under: Review

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