Click here for the full text on PASC's website. I'm thrilled to be working with PASC! In the piece, I highlighted the Broede family's exquisite collection of Brewton works. In the 1960s, Bruce Broede managed the University of Pennsylvania book store, and Jim worked for him. Bruce and his wife, Carol, became close friends of Jim's.
After Jim's death, Bruce and Carol moved to California and had a son, Jason, giving him the middle name of "Brewton" in memory of their friend. Subsequently, they divorced and Carol remarried. Bruce talked with me several times in 2009, shortly before his death. His memories, and Carol's, offer glimpses of Jim's creative process and motivations.
An endearing, more personal vignette was not included in the essay for PASC.
Here it is:
"One of my favorite memories involved a hotel across from Rittenhouse Square," Carol told me. (The Warwick, according to Bruce. “Jim’s way was, you go directly and get as much roast beef as you can.”)
Carol said, "They had a marvelous Sunday night buffet, and we wanted to take Jim. You couldn’t get in without a jacket and tie. So he went to the Salvation Army and bought a mustard-colored, fuzzy suit and we all trooped in. Jim’s [dining] philosophy was to eat the most important thing first—the roast beef—and then work back to the salad. Jim collected the petits fours and smuggled about a dozen out in his pockets.”
My mother once said that Jim bought his clothes at a thrift store on South Street called “Big-Hearted Jim’s,” and that he sometimes signed his letters “Big-Hearted Jim.”
Ceramics: not my forte. I enjoyed the class at La Mano, learned a lot, relished using the Highline as my commute route.
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?
Among the papers left by my mother are three pages of typewritten recollections by Lois Hall Roberts, my grandmother's sister. The pages were Xeroxed and the ink is fading fast, so I typed them into my computer.
Most of the comments refer to Marion Holland's unpublished memoirs. At the bottom of the second page, a segment came to a tantalizing end:
"p. 270 That cop was Sinclair, famous for having the most arrests on his record. Peggy once got him to [illegible] ...."
I was working on a story about looking for my father's art, an obsession of mine since February 2008, when an essay about my mother's last summer inserted itself into the manuscript. Eventually, I rewrote the essay as a piece that could stand alone. Today it was published in a new literary pub called "The Leopard Seal." [Note, the new literary pub is now a defunct one. I've posted the story here.]
'The story of the snake and the bears' is the name of the piece; here are some of the photos I took that summer.... With grateful thanks to the kind men from the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries.
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....
Privileged to travel a lot with a trusty camera
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