Joan Brown Biography

Joan Brown




Artist Joan Vivian Brown (nee Beatty) was born in San Francisco, California on February 13th, 1938. attended the California School of Fine Arts -- later to become the San Francisco Art Institute -- from 1956 to 1959, where she received her BFA and her MFA in 1960.

Joan Beatty married William Brown in 1956 and the pair lived in North Beach in San Francisco. She had her first exhibition at the artist-run Six Gallery in 1957. In 1958 she and William moved into an apartment next door to artists Jay deFeo and Wally Hedrick. Joan continued to exhibit in San Francisco. She began teaching at Raymond Wilkins High School, San Francisco and she and William separated in 1960.

Starting out in the mid-1960's as a figurative painter in the thickly pigmented style of the so-called second-generation Bay Area artists, Ms. Brown gradually lightened her mode of painting and concentrated on imagery drawn from her personal life. A long-distance swimmer who regarded the sport as a means of meditation, she at this time used many images of swimmers in her art. Student of World Cultures

In 1961 Joan married artist Manuel Neri, whom she divorced in 1966. In 1968 she married artist Gordon Cook and the two of them moved to Rio Vista in 1970, she began teaching at Sacramento State College, and from 1970 – 1973 at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. They moved back to San Francisco in 1971.

In the 1970s her work was included in more east coast exhibitions and she began training with Hall of Fame swimming coach Charlie Sava in San Francisco in 1972. She completed the Alcatraz Swim in 1975 and, once again, got divorced, this time in 1976 from Gordon Cook.

In the 1970s she began traveling, informally studying world cultures. She drew inspiration for her work from the Egyptian and Hindu religions, and she made obelisks adorned with decorative patterns incorporating symbolic animal and human forms. In recent years, because of political and moral objections to the sale of art, she became involved in public art projects and made an effort to withdraw her work from the market

The late 1970s began a series of travels abroad; Egypt in 1977, Ecuador, the Amazon and Machu Picchu in 1978, China in 1979, India in 1980 (she also married Michael Hebel in 1980); and then China, India, Mexico etc. through the mid and late 1980s.

On October 26, 1990 she was installing an obelisk commission at Eternal Heritage Museum, Prasanthiniiayam, India. Joan Brown was killed along with two assistants when tower at the site collapsed.