This summer and fall I've been working away at my series about James Joyce's 'Ulysses,' as well as pictures inspired by a friend's music and interest in Zuni symbols. So much to paint! So little time!
I'm fixated on the Zuni owl, apparently a benevolent spirit of knowledge. They may say he's benevolent ... maybe to the extent that he's willing to keep his judgments to himself. Omniscient, but not a Punishing Owl?
Yesterday marked the sixth year of my midlife epiphany ... on Feb. 4, 2008, I was flipping through an elderly copy of ARTnews magazine. A final glance before junking it into the recycling bin under the stairs.
But wait, what? Here's an ad for a life's-work solo show in Philadelphia, called "Adventures in 'Pataphysics." Why hadn't I noticed it months ago, when the magazine was fresh? My father had been into Pataphysics in the 1950s; I'd thought he was the only one making art about it.
In that moment, my quest to locate and preserve my father's artwork was launched. It's been an occupation ever since. When I began looking, I knew very little about my father as an artist. My memories, of a much-loved father, are of listening to records and painting together. How fun is a father who encourages scribbling on the walls? I was only four when he died, and lucky to have any memories at all....
Six years into the quest, I have learned a great deal about my father, the artist. Michael R. Taylor, Director of the Hood Museum, helped me gain some objectivity in my research. About 250 works have surfaced. I'm thrilled to be showing a few of the paintings and prints in March, in Philadelphia. The artwork is splendid. Jim himself remains elusive.
The people who loved my father and his work are fascinating, generous, clever, offbeat, wonderful friends. I've interviewed Jim Brewton's friends and collectors in Canada, Denmark, all over the U.S., and U.K.
It's been an amazing puzzle so far. And all thanks to flipping through a magazine before dropping it in the recycling. Isn't life Pataphysical....
... in a high school. Lucky students, to have this artwork in the hallways, cafeteria and auditorium.
Past travels with a trusty camera; current work on James E. Brewton Foundation research and memoir
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