Our Studio Sunday artist for the week is Joan Brown. Joan Brown was a painter and sculptor based in Northern California. While the artist began her career experimenting with abstraction in the early 1960s, she quickly moved on to a largely figurative practice though she would continue to vary her style over the years.
Brown is pictured here in her studio with a group of friends. (Brown is in a white shirt on the far right.) It’s always fun to see the artist surrounded by other people in the studio -- whether the other people are friends, or studio assistants, a group of people tends to suggest a collaborative atmosphere. Whether or not Brown ever collaborated artistically with the group pictured above, seeing this photo gives me an interesting sense of how closely interconnected Brown’s personal life and practice were. It’s something like seeing Dan Flavin pictured in the studio with his young son, or Yinka Shonibare with his studio assistants.
Brown’s studio space itself is a very typical art studio. There’s a huge painting on the back wall that looks to be a work-in-progress. The rest of the studio is packed with various equipment – the multiple tables in the space are stacked with jars of paint, brushes, and other ephemera.
Brown actively produced paintings throughout the 1960s and 70s. In the late 70s and 80s,
she became interested in sculpture, particularly public sculpture, and travelled to India
several times to participate in New Age spiritual practices. In 1990, Brown was tragically killed
in an accident during the installation of an obelisk that she constructed for her friend Sai Baba’s Eternal Heritage Museum in Puttaparthi, India.