Stories behind uncovering Jim Brewton's long-hidden artwork, constructive mourning, and the joy of pataphysical graffiti: live on Saturday, March 6, 5 pm (U.S. Eastern)
Tomorrow I'll be talking with Philadelphia theater-maker Tina Brock about the work I've been doing to locate and preserve my father's artwork. I began my hunt in February 2008, thanks to encouragement from Michael R. Taylor, then-curator of modern art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, now Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
While I learned about James E. Brewton (1930-1967), I documented the interviews and of course the artwork, and the whole story became a memoir, which I finally finished editing last week. I don't know where Tina will take our conversation tomorrow, but reflecting on the past 13 years has me feeling extremely grateful for the adventure.
In 2008 there wasn't a roadmap for building an artist's reputation from scratch, I was lucky enough to find a wonderful collection of oral histories: “Artists' Estates: Reputations in Trust” by Magda Salvesen and Diane Cousineau (Rutgers University Press, 2005).
Besides this site and the James E. Brewton Foundation site, I've also posted an essay I wrote about trying to run a nice, quiet, peaceful sickbed for my mother in her cabin in the woods during the summer of 2010. It's called "The story of the snake and the bears," first published by The Leopard Seal.
In 2014 I researched a poem included by my father in his 1964 print, The Pataphysics Times" (I'd searched the internet for the poem before, but decided to try again), and there it was: an artified version of “Tree-Leaf,” by architect Aldo van Eyck. van Eyck may have written it while he was a visiting lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, where my father worked part-time at the university book store. I decided to make a chapbook about the poem, and created a website as notes for the design. It's a lovely poem!
When I began the hunt for my father's work, I was aware of 16 paintings and prints. Today, that number has grown to more than 150 artworks. All of these finds were made through the help of friends, relatives, and strangers. My great gratitude goes to everyone who kindly gave me their time, talked with me, generously helped save the artwork, and pointed me in the direction of more information and works. Thank you; and thanks to all who appreciate and enjoy Jim Brewton's paintings, prints, constructions, and artifications.
Here's a link to the conversation with Tina Brock, March 6 at 5 pm (Eastern U.S./Canadian Time), on her "Into the Absurd" series: "Pataphysical Graffiti and Constructive Mourning: Uncovering Jim Brewton’s Long-Hidden Artwork."
Tina Brock is Producing Artistic Director of Philadelphia's own theater of the absurd, The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium (IRC). Coproducers for "Into the Absurd," the online conversations Tina has been hosting during the pandemic, are: Erica Hoelscher, Associate Artistic Director, IRC, and Chairperson, Department of Theatre, Professor of Theatre, Lehigh University; and Bob Schmidt, Ways and Means Coordinator, IRC.
I'm looking forward to talking with Tina tomorrow, and we hope you'll join us--or check out the recording later on IRC's Youtube channel.
Past travels with a trusty camera; current work on James E. Brewton Foundation research and memoir
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