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Joan Brown Original Vintage San Francisco Bay Area Figurative Expressionist Portrait of Fellow Artist Manuel Neri California American Art Oil Painting
Joan Brown Original Vintage San Francisco Bay Area Figurative Expressionist Portrait of Fellow Artist Manuel Neri California American Art Oil Painting
Joan Brown Original Vintage San Francisco Bay Area Figurative Expressionist Portrait of Fellow Artist Manuel Neri California American Art Oil Painting
Joan Brown Original Vintage San Francisco Bay Area Figurative Expressionist Portrait of Fellow Artist Manuel Neri California American Art Oil Painting
Joan Brown Original Vintage San Francisco Bay Area Figurative Expressionist Portrait of Fellow Artist Manuel Neri California American Art Oil Painting
Joan Brown Original Vintage San Francisco Bay Area Figurative Expressionist Portrait of Fellow Artist Manuel Neri California American Art Oil Painting
Joan Brown Original Vintage San Francisco Bay Area Figurative Expressionist Portrait of Fellow Artist Manuel Neri California American Art Oil Painting
Joan Brown Original Vintage San Francisco Bay Area Figurative Expressionist Portrait of Fellow Artist Manuel Neri California American Art Oil Painting
Joan Brown Original Vintage San Francisco Bay Area Figurative Expressionist Portrait of Fellow Artist Manuel Neri California American Art Oil Painting
Pacific Fine Art

Joan Brown Original Vintage San Francisco Bay Area Figurative Expressionist Portrait of Fellow Artist Manuel Neri California American Art Oil Painting

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Original vintage San Francisco Bay Area Figurative painting, by American expressionist, Joan Brown, (1938-1990). A beautiful work by the artist: a portrait of the artist's second husband, Manuel Neri, (also a Bay Area Figurative artist), with a poignant expression; layered in bright and striking contrasting colors. 

Joan Brown, originally named Joan Vivien Beatty, was an American figurative painter known for her contributions to the Bay Area Figurative Movement. She resided and worked in Northern California, becoming a prominent figure in the region's art scene.

During the late 1950s, Joan Brown played a significant role in establishing California, particularly the Bay Area, as a vibrant center for the arts. Collaborating with fellow artists, she helped popularize the concepts of figurative painting, Beat Generation culture, and Funk art.

Joan Brown was born on February 19, 1938, in San Francisco. Her father was of second-generation Irish descent, while her mother was a native Californian. Unfortunately, Brown's family life was marked by unhappiness, with her father's heavy drinking and her mother's frequent threats of suicide. Eager to escape her troubled home, Brown looked forward to growing up and moving out.

She received her education at Catholic schools in San Francisco, specifically St. Vincent de Paul School and Presentation High School. However, her experience with Catholic education and religion engendered a strong aversion within her. She pursued her artistic studies at the California School of Fine Arts (now San Francisco Art Institute), completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1959 and a Master of Arts degree in 1960. It was during her time at the school that she encountered her instructor and mentor, Elmer Bischoff. In 1958, while still a student, she held her first solo gallery exhibition.

In 1956, Brown married her first husband, Bill Brown, who was also a student and had encouraged her to complete her studies and work with Bischoff. Before their wedding, she fell seriously ill, and Bill presented her with books containing reproductions of paintings by renowned masters such as Rembrandt, Francisco Goya, and Diego Velázquez. Immersed in these artistic works during her illness, Brown experienced a surge of energy and a profound realization that painting professionally was her true calling.

Her marriage to Bill Brown was later annulled in 1962. She went on to marry Manuel Neri, a sculptor associated with the Bay Area Figurative Movement, in the same year. However, their artistic collaboration and relationship had already begun before their marriage.

Joan Brown gained prominence with her unique style of figurative painting, characterized by vibrant colors, sometimes cartoon-like drawings, and personal symbolism. At the age of 22, she became the youngest artist to be exhibited in the prestigious Whitney annual show in New York in 1960.

Throughout her career, Brown's paintings reflected various aspects of her life. Influenced by Elmer Bischoff's teaching methods, her artworks were often related to personal events and incorporated elements from her diverse interests, including dance, swimming, and her roles as a mother and partner.

In 1962, she gave birth to her son Noel Elmer Neri, whom she had with Manuel Neri. During 1963-1964, her paintings revolved around her son's life, capturing important events and challenges he faced. Notably, "Noel's First Christmas" (1963) blended her love for her son and Christmas in a meaningful way.

Over time, Joan Brown's artistic style underwent transformations. In 1965, she made a significant shift, moving away from her previous thickly textured, large-scale works with brilliant colors. Instead, she embraced a more intimate and detailed approach, exploring black and white paintings.

In 1968, she married artist Gordon Cook, whose work differed from hers but inspired mutual respect. Brown reintroduced color into her paintings, focusing on metaphorical themes that reflected her personal experiences, including the deaths of her parents. Animals, particularly cats, began to play a prominent role in her later works as she incorporated more symbolism.

During the 1970s, Joan Brown produced autobiographical paintings based on both real and imagined events. She was an avid swimmer and even participated in amateur competitions, including the first women's Golden Gate swim in San Francisco Bay. In 1975, Brown and a group of swimmers encountered a near-drowning experience when a passing freighter caused their swim to Alcatraz Island to go awry. This event served as inspiration for her self-portrait titled "After the Alcatraz Swim #3."

Apart from her artistic pursuits, Brown also had a successful career as a teacher. She taught introductory painting and drawing classes at the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco, from 1961 to 1969. She also held teaching positions at various institutions, including the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Sacramento State College, and Mills College in Oakland. From 1974 until her death in 1990, she served as an art professor in the Department of Art Practice at the University of California, Berkeley.

In the late 1970s, Joan Brown developed a growing interest in spirituality and New Age ideas, eventually becoming a friend of Sathya Sai Baba. She made multiple trips to his ashram in Puttaparthi, India. After this spiritual awakening, Brown shifted her focus from painting to public sculpture, drawing inspiration from Egyptian and Hindu icons. Her later works reflected the experiences and observations she gathered during her travels around the world.

Sadly, on October 26, 1990, tragedy struck during the installation of one of her obelisks at Sai Baba's Eternal Heritage Museum in Puttaparthi, India. Joan Brown, along with Bonnie Lynn Mainric and Michael Oliver, lost their lives when a concrete turret collapsed. At the time of her death, Brown was married to Mike Hebel.

Today, Joan Brown's artistic legacy lives on. Her works can be found in prestigious collections, such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), which holds twenty-five of her pieces. In 2022, her artwork was featured in the Women Painting Women exhibition at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Additionally, SFMOMA organized a major retrospective of her paintings and sculptures in November 2022, marking the first comprehensive exhibition of Brown's work in over two decades.

Cataloged, comparable paintings by Joan Brown/online ref:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.artslant.com/work/image/37765/slide/Brown.jpg

https://image.invaluable.com/housePhotos/Butterfields/78/114778/H0267-L04700799.jpg

https://i.pinimg.com/236x/11/88/96/118896fb929d707155c8889df1b28a0b--bay-area-figurative-movement-art-school.jpg

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/c3/e6/0b/c3e60b645b45bb5c3dcb2c1e2f73a48f---contemporary-art.jpg

http://notesonlooking.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/66.685.jpg

Joan Brown
(1938-1990)
San Francisco Bay Area Figurative, Expressionist
Portrait of Manuel Neri
Oil on Board
Estimated to have been created, approximately 1958-1962
The painting alone measures approximately 18" X 24", plus the frame
Signed "Joan", lower left
The painting is still housed in its original, vintage frame. The frame has some discoloration on the fabric liner.
The painting is in good overall condition, with no over-paints, restorations, or chemical cleans. There are a few scratches, as shown; most are to the right. Please review the images.

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