Joan Brown and the rise of silence

Self-Portrait with Scarf (aka Woman in Scarf), 1972 Enamel on canvas 16 x 12 inches Collection of Wanda Kownacki and John Holton

Portrait of a Girl, 1971 Enamel on masonite 97 ¾ x 49 ¾ inches Estate of Joan Brown

The Journey #1, 1976 Enamel on canvas 84 x 72 inches Collection of the San Jose Museum of Art Gift of Norm Lariviere 1993.13

After the Alcatraz Swim #1, 1975 Oil enamel on canvas 96 x 78 inches Collection of Maryellen and Frank Herringer

Family Portrait, 1981 Oil on canvas 59 x 59 (octagon) Estate of Joan Brown

Aah, my friends, I doubt the ability to pictures to represent reality. This is nothing new. But just now, I also doubt the efficacy of words to convey an experience.

My own response to my skepticism has been a slightly mind-bended version of that old dictum – show don’t tell. Often I attempt to write around a thing and try by describing the edges to suggest the whole. Sometimes I just see myself, staring back.

So now I am flummoxed. I have been reading all morning and what I know now better than when I woke is… the natures of the people writing. My reading has added nothing to my store of knowledge on the subjects that they covered.

Occasionally I just give up.

Silenced then (if only momentarily), I offer you the remainder of my images from This Kind of Bird Flies Backward: Paintings by Joan Brown at the San Jose Museum of Art.

I also tell you that on February 3, 2012, the San Jose Museum of Art presents Renegade Humor, a large group exhibition featuring the likes of Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest, David Gilhooly, Peter VandenBerge, William T. Wiley, among other artists who, in the 1960’s studied at and taught at UC Davis.

That old black magic, my friends, it has me in its spin. Down and down, round and round. Go.

San Jose Museum of Art website:

Joan Brown, El Verano, 1960 Oil on canvas 70 x 67 inches

Joan Brown, Self Portrait with cloud and Cigarette Mixed media on panel 81.75 x 68 inches

Joan Brown, Noel’s First Christmas, 1963 Oil on canvas 70 ½ x 48 inches


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