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Anne K. Swartz

(Francisca )

(b East Los Angeles, CA, Sept 20, 1946).

American muralist, activist and teacher. Born to Mexican–American parents, Baca is recognized as one of the leading muralists in the USA. She was involved from a young age in activism, including the Chicano Movement, the antiwar protest and Women’s Liberation. She studied art at California State University, Northridge, where she received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Baca started teaching art in 1970 in East Los Angeles for the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and became interested in the ways murals could involve youth, allowing them to express their experiences. She founded the City of Los Angeles Mural Program in 1974, which evolved into the Social and Public Resource Center, a community arts organization, where she served as artistic director. She held five summer mural workshops from 1976 through 1983 for teenagers and community artists to help her paint a huge mural on the ethnic history of Los Angeles, called the ...

Article

Janet Bishop

(b San Francisco, CA, May 14, 1932).

American painter. Native of the San Francisco Bay Area, known for careful observation and explicit use of snapshot-like photographic source material for paintings of family, cars, and residential neighborhoods. The artist rose to national and international prominence in early 1970s as part of the Photorealist movement (see Photorealism).

From the 1960s, Bechtle pursued a quiet realism based on the things he knew best, translating what seem to be ordinary scenes of middle-class American life into paintings. Following an early childhood in the Bay Area and Sacramento, his family settled in 1942 in Alameda, an island suburb adjacent to Oakland where his mother would occupy the same house for almost 60 years. The neighborhood appears in many of Bechtle’s paintings.

Bechtle earned both his BFA (1954) and his MFA (1958) at Oakland’s California College of Arts and Crafts, where he studied graphic design and then painting. During his student years and into the 1960s, Bechtle was influenced by Pop art’s precedent for the use of commercial subject matter and techniques. He was likewise interested in Bay Area figuration, especially the subjects and structure of paintings by ...

Article

Sandra Sider

(b Lafayette, LA, 1967).

African American painter. Charles graduated from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA, in 1985, having studied advertising design, illustration, and painting. He received his MFA from the University of Houston in 1993, and subsequently taught at the University of Texas at Austin. His paintings, which manipulate images of historical black stereotypes, have generated critical controversy and hostile reactions from viewers. Charles, however, saw himself as investigating these images and their place in American history, exploring and exposing their negativity. He typically signs his work with an actual copper penny, oriented to display the profile of Abraham Lincoln.

Charles also collected black memorabilia, such as Aunt Jemima dolls and other advertising ephemera, and has researched 19th-century blackface and minstrelsy performers. Some of his most controversial figures have been of childhood literary icons, including a black Sambo reminiscent of Mickey Mouse. Charles is interested in how these images remain in America’s collective memory, and the different attitudes of Caucasians and African Americans when viewing them. He creates extreme caricatures, such as a sinister-looking black face with a watermelon slice for a mouth and black seeds instead of teeth—images meant to stimulate thought. The faces in his paintings confront the viewer with their oversized scale, some of them more than 1 m high. Charles felt that American advertising conditioned people of all types to pigeonhole blacks as representing the body (instead of the mind), and as entertainers—and that these stereotypical attitudes have been retained in the American psyche. To emphasize this point, Charles juxtaposed African American celebrities with advertising imagery, such as Oprah Winfrey as a cookie-jar mammy figure....

Article

William McAloon

(b Upper Hutt, Oct 3, 1964).

New Zealand painter of Maori descent. Cotton studied at the University of Canterbury, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1988. He is prominent amongst a generation of Maori artists that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s including Michael Parekowhai (b 1968), Lisa Reihana (b 1964), and Peter Robinson, all of whom were schooled in contemporary Euro-American art styles and debates and then explored their Maori identities in relation to globalization and post-colonialism. Cotton’s early 1990s works were contemporary history paintings, locating New Zealand’s conflicted past firmly in a bicultural present. Drawing upon Maori figurative styles from the late 19th-century, particularly in meeting-houses inspired by the prophet and resistance leader Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki, Cotton’s sepia-toned works juxtaposed these images with customary Maori carved forms, written Maori script, the coastal profiles of early European explorers, and appropriations from contemporary artists as diverse as Imants Tillers, Bridget Riley, and Haim Steinbach....

Article

Jenifer P. Borum

(b Emelle, AL, Sept 10, 1928; d McCalla, AL, Jan 25, 2016).

African American painter and sculptor. Dial was born into poverty and left school at age nine to work various jobs, including fieldwork. At age ten, his mother gave up Thornton and his half-brother Arthur to be raised by their great-grandmother. Upon her death they were taken in by their aunt for two years, and then given to their great-aunt, Sarah Dial Lockett, in Bessemer, AL.

Throughout most of his life, Dial worked as a farmer, a gardener, a bricklayer, and a construction worker. He worked for the Bessemer Water Works for 13 years and the Pullman Standard for nearly 30 years. Dial’s labor gave him a great many skills that he would later apply to making artwork. He was handy with found objects and materials, often making cemetery decorations, as well as for his yard—both of which should be considered in the context of vernacular signifying practices within the African diaspora. Unfortunately, he buried or destroyed much of his early mixed-media yard work, as it often carried messages of social protest and could have been a source of trouble for him and his family. The practice of destroying his work changed when he met his future patron, the Atlanta collector Bill Arnett, in ...

Article

Mary M. Tinti

(b Verdun, France, 1965).

French-born American painter and draftsman. Eisenman was born in France, where her father was stationed as an army psychiatrist, and grew up in Scarsdale, NY. In 1987 she earned her BFA in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. She then began creating an oeuvre of critically acclaimed paintings, murals, drawings, cartoons and illustrations that seamlessly weave together the subjects and symbols of art history, ancient mythology, popular culture and feminist inquiry. Eisenman also mined her own personal interests, humor and biography and in the process created unique, biting and purposefully anachronistic juxtapositions. Her wickedly witty works subvert culturally pervasive social and gender stereotypes.

Like many women artists learning their craft in the 1980s, Eisenman did not discover the art of her female predecessors until much later in her studies (at a time when their works were only just receiving increased attention). Early influences include Sigmar Polke, Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Haim Steinbach, Jeff Koons, Chris Burden and Cindy Sherman alongside a fondness for comic book graphics, punk rock and the culture, artists and ethos of the East Village in New York. Eisenman credits her 1990s exposure to the works of ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Philadelphia, PA, Jan 14, 1939).

American painter. Fishman is an abstract painter who came of age at the end of the 1960s when Abstract Expressionism was the dominant mode of painting and the Women’s Movement was gaining momentum. She attended the Philadelphia College of Art, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, eventually receiving her BFA and BS degree from Tyler School of Fine Arts. There she received two senior prizes—the First Painting Prize, Student Exhibit, Tyler School of Art, and the Bertha Lowenberg Prize for the Senior Woman to Excel in Art (1963). She went on to receive her MFA from University of Illinois in Champaign (1965); that same year, she relocated to New York City. She received numerous grants and fellowships, including National Endowment for the Arts grants (1975–6; 1983–4; 1994); a Guggenheim Fellowship in Painting (1979); a fellowship to the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire (...

Article

G. Lola Worthington

(b Buffalo, NY, 1950).

Tuscarora artist, writer, educator, and museum director. Hill studied at the Art Institute of Chicago (1968–70), and was awarded a Master of Arts degree from SUNY, Buffalo, NY (1980).

Intrigued with Seneca General Ely Parker (General Grant’s Military Secretary), Hill investigated Parker’s life, which took him to Washington, DC, for two years. Hill began to identify with Parker’s experience and realized he would devote himself to enlightening others about Native American arts, knowledge, education, and culture.

Hill was skilled in painting, photography, carving, beading, and basket weaving, and many of these works are located at the Canadian Museum of Civilizations, Quebec; the Woodland Indian Cultural Center, Brantford, Ontario; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK; the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, Washington, DC; and the Seneca Iroquois National Museum, Salamanca, NY. He taught at McMaster University, Mohawk College, Six Nations Polytechnic, and SUNY at Buffalo. Hill developed a culturally based Seneca Language curriculum and training models for teaching....

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Pasedena, CA, 1949).

American painter and printmaker. Kushner received a BA in visual arts with honors from the University of California at San Diego, La Jolla. There he met critic and art historian Amy Goldin, a visiting professor, and artist Kim MacConnel, a graduate student. Goldin taught Kushner and MacConnel about Islamic art and decoration, among many other topics. She encouraged them to examine decoration and Islamic art, among other sources to transgress the boundaries of what was art in their own work.

With Goldin’s support, Kushner became a champion of decoration, later telling his dealer Holly Solomon that he wanted to elevate decoration in much the same way Pop artists elevated commercial art. Kushner moved from California to Boston before relocating to New York City, where he befriended artist Brad Davis, who was similarly engaged in considering decoration as a mode for making art. In 1974, Kushner traveled with Goldin to Turkey, Iran and Afganistan, where he became fascinated by textile patterning, garments and architectural decoration. He returned to the United States and began actively incorporating much of this visual material into his art, in a manner reminiscent of artist Henri Matisse 50 years earlier following his trips to Morocco....

Article

Christopher Johnstone

From the formal establishment of New Zealand with the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 until the 1960s, landscape was the predominant genre of painting in New Zealand. Several interrelated artistic, social, and practical reasons led to this and to the differing approaches to landscape representation during the period. They range from the country being ‘a land absolutely teeming with artistic subjects of the most varied kind… [offering] the special features of every country which is remarkable for its scenery’ (Hodgkins, 1880) to a belief that the mild climate made painting out of doors possible ‘without much discomfort all the year round’ (Killick, 1917).

The first professional artist to spend time in and paint New Zealand, in 1827–8, was Earl family, §3, but the artists who followed him in the 1840s were mostly amateurs—sailors, surveyors, and administrators, and later soldiers. Their objectives were largely governed by colonizing imperatives: documenting the country to promote it to potential settlers back ‘home’ who wanted to see non-threatening potential destinations. Watercolour was the primary medium. William Fox (...

Article

G. Lola Worthington

(b San Francisco, CA, Oct 5, 1937).

Native American (Maidu–Wintu) painter, printmaker, photographer, writer, educator, traditional dancer and poet. LaPena, also known as Tauhindauli, spent time with the Nomtipom Wintu and other regional neighboring elders to conserve and regain traditional cultural practices. He was taught traditional tribal songs, dances and ceremonial rituals of Northern California Native American culture that inspired his interest in reviving and preserving Northern California tribal culture and accompanying performance arts. His work, along with Frank Day (1902–76), a late Maidu elder and painter, aided the founding of the Maidu Dancers and Traditionalists, a group dedicated to carrying out traditional cultural forms and social practices. Earning his bachelor’s degree from California State University (CSU), Chico (1965), and an Anthropology Masters of Arts degree from CSU, Sacramento (1978), he taught for the next 30 years in the CSU, Sacramento American Indian Studies program.

For LaPena, his art was a spiritual act, which empowers the maker with an opportunity to achieve a stronger sense of understanding life. Inspired by prehistoric rock painting, some painted images are depicted in total abstraction, while others illustrate a narrative theme. His strong consciousness of his Californian Native American heritage is distinctive and many themes in his compositions provide a powerful commentary in their depiction of the struggles of Northern California Native Americans; “To let the world know what happened in California, and to the indigenous populations points out that survival issues are still of great concern.” His paintings and prints reached a popular acceptance. LaPena exhibited throughout the United States and internationally at the Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe, NM, the Chicago Art Institute, the San Francisco Museum, the Linder Museum, Stuttgart, the American Arts Gallery, New York, the George G. Heye Center of the Smithsonian, New York, and numerous galleries. In ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Oklahoma City, OK, 1946).

American painter and printmaker. MacConnel grew up in Oklahoma City, OK, and traveled frequently, especially to Mexico. He received a BA with honors in visual art at the University of California at San Diego, La Jolla (UCSD). He was a California State Scholar in 1970. MacConnel received an MFA with honors from UCSD. While a graduate student, he met visiting critic and art historian Amy Goldin, a visiting professor. He also met Robert Kushner, who was also a student in Goldin’s class and who also befriended Goldin. Goldin taught them in a seminar called “The Art Box,” where she encouraged the students to look beyond definitions of the current art world. She wanted the students to consider visual culture—everything from quilts to folk art—as related to contemporary art. Decoration was one of the things she encouraged MacConnel to examine. Decorations was his first solo show in 1971 at UCSD where he showed work inspired by world decoration. In his work, he combined and juxtaposed unexpected and often unorthodox images and patterns. His work had strong reminiscences in the bold coloring and strong patterning of such artists as Henri Matisse, who also considered non-Western source material. He became one of the founding artists of the ...

Article

Miwako Tezuka

(b Taegu, Korea, June 5, 1973).

Korean painter. When Moon moved to the USA in 1999 to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, she already had an MFA in painting from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea. She eventually earned her second MFA from University of Iowa in 2002. In her ink and acrylic painting on paper, Moon combines references to popular culture with images and techniques reminiscent of her Asian cultural background such as calligraphy.

The essential characteristic of Moon’s work is its visual and material hybridity that owes much to her expertise in both Asian and Western painting traditions. Dynamic use of color, allover composition and depictions of quasi-organic motifs in Moon’s landscapes may suggest affinity to abstract painting by Helen Frankenthaler. Just as many Abstract Expressionists did, Moon’s composition envisions primordial landscape of a life-giving planet where chaos is destructive and creative at the same time. For example, Haven (...

Article

Annie Dell’Aria

(b Conehatta, MS, June 20, 1933).

American painter. Born in rural Mississippi, Overstreet grew up primarily in the Bay Area, California. Following some time in the Merchant Marines and in San Francisco, Overstreet moved to New York City in 1958, where he set up his studio for most of his career. In the early 1960s, Overstreet was directly involved with the Black Arts Repertory Theater, part of a career-long commitment to the African American legacy in the arts. In 1974, he co-founded with Samuel C. Floyd and his partner Corrine Jennings Kenkeleba House in New York, an alternative venue dedicated to supporting, collecting and exhibiting the work of minority American artists.

Visually, Overstreet’s canvases have had both a long engagement with the tradition of abstraction in Western art and an impetus to connect with and speak to the African American experience. Active since the 1950s, his early canvases drew heavily from the work of Hans Hofmann...

Article

Jeff Stockton

(Maurilio )

(b Laredo, TX, 1943).

American painter and printmaker of Mexican and Yaqui descent (mestizo). Peña’s art celebrated the strength of a native people who met the harsh realities of life in an uncompromising land, and his work was a tribute to the Native Americans who survived by living in harmony with an adversarial, untamed environment. His artwork was inspired by places in the Southwest that were part of an enduring landscape and represented the ancient heritage of the region that is now Arizona and New Mexico.

Peña’s work was defined by its bold color and form and dynamic composition. Abstract landscapes merged with human forms, and blanket and pottery patterns entered into the overall design. A prolific artist, Peña produced primarily watercolors and etchings, in addition to drawings, graphics, ceramics and jewelry. Irrespective of the medium, the recurring motif (and Peña’s artistic trademark) was a modeled, angular profile of a Native American man or woman, which he used as a simplified storytelling device....

Article

Michelle Yun

(b New York, NY, Dec 25, 1944).

American sculptor, draftsman and installation artist. Saret received a BArch from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, in 1966 and subsequently studied at Hunter College in New York under Robert Morris from 1966 to 1968. In the late 1960s his work was classified as part of the “anti-form” movement, which rejected the rigidity of Minimalism in favor of creating non-figurative works that were structured in part by the inherent physical properties of the industrial materials favored by this group.

Saret’s early sculptures from the 1960s and 1970s were primarily crafted from industrial metal wire of varying thickness, though he also sometimes used rubber, wire mesh or other non-art materials. They were often suspended from the ceiling or installed directly on the ground and exuded a weightless, ephemeral quality akin to clouds or gestural drawings rendered three-dimensionally. It was around this time, in 1967, that Saret began his ongoing Gang drawings series. These gestural drawings were initially created as preliminary studies for the sculptures and were produced by the artist spontaneously grabbing a handful, or “gang,” of colored pencils, thereby integrating an element of chance to the process....

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b New York, NY, 1932).

American artist. Born in New York City, Semmel was trained at several schools in the metropolitan area, including the High School of Music and Art, Pratt Institute, The Art Students League of New York and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art from which she later received a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1985. She was trained in an Abstract Expressionist style, much in vogue. She worked in an abstract style. She moved to Madrid, Spain in 1963, returning to New York City in 1970. Semmel completed her graduate work at Pratt in 1972 and then became involved in the Women’s Movement, actively supporting and meeting with other women artists to find ways to show their work and participating in the journal Heresies , published by the Heresies Collective, a group of women artists. She also began teaching, first at Pratt, then at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Rutgers University. Her painting shifted to a figurative mode as a way for her to paint the female body and paint from a personal perspective in a more direct manner. Semmel painted on large canvases of six to nine feet, pushing the nude figure into the forward picture plane, directly in front of the viewer. She photographed her body, looking down on it. This point of view created a foreshortened image of the female body from the way a woman would look at herself, contrasting to the long history of the nude being looked at by others. She then went on to examine loving heterosexual couples, limbs intertwined in bed and seen from the perspective of the woman, engaged in embraces, sex, or post-coital relaxation. Her figures become almost abstract because they are seen so close up. She participated in creating a feminist erotics in her art. Semmel’s paintings are part of the ways women at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century look at themselves. She is of specific importance to American art as one of the main artists who examined the human body from a woman’s perspective....

Article

Jenifer P. Borum

(b Pittsburgh, PA, 1958).

American painter and sculptor. Raised in the working-class East Liberty section of Pittsburgh, Stout was encouraged to make art by members of her family—her maternal uncle, a painter, and her grandfather, a blues musician. As a child, she took classes at the Carnegie Museum of Art, where she was introduced to African art, a significant formative experience for Stout, who would subsequently go on to engage the vernacular language of the African Diaspora in the Americas.

Stout earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University in 1980. After graduation, she worked in residency at the Afro-American Artists Residency at Northeastern University in Boston. After moving to Washington, DC, in 1985, she began the ongoing practice of mixed-media assemblage that was to become her mature work. By reclaiming objects and elements from urban diasporic material culture such as root medicines, spirit writing and healing oils, Stout created assemblages and environments that effectively transformed gallery and museum spaces into liminal sites that mapped cultural crossroads—contact points between Africa and the Americas, tradition and innovation, high art and vernacular culture....

Article

H. Alexander Rich

(b Segovia, Spain, June 20, 1903; d Bridgehampton, NY, Jan 10, 2001).

American painter and teacher of Spanish birth. One of the last surviving members of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, Vicente arrived in New York from Spain as an innovative synthesizer of earlier European styles, working his way from portrait and nature painting through landscapes and Cubism before arriving at his mature New York School-inflected manner of large-scale abstract collage and stain paintings.

Born in Segovia, but growing up in Madrid, he was undoubtedly influenced by his father, a former military officer who also dabbled in painting and who often took his son to the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Vicente enrolled at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de S. Fernando in Madrid to study sculpture in 1921.

Although sculpting occupied Vicente for three years at the Academy, where Salvador Dalí was a classmate, by the time he moved to Paris in 1929 Vicente had re-branded himself a painter. That same year, he showed his work for the first time in the Salon des Surindépendants. Vicente painted primarily from nature, composing landscapes that fused ...

Article

Atteqa Ali

(b Lahore).

Pakistani painter, active also in America. Wasim’s images critique authority by using a painting technique that produces works described as “epic miniatures.” Prior to the 19th century, miniature painting was associated with royal courts in South Asia, but by the late 20th century it was being taught at the National College of Arts (NCA) in Pakistan. Wasim majored in miniature painting at NCA, graduating with a BFA in 1999. Her approach mirrors the philosophical and formal methods utilized by 16th-century Mughal family Empire court painters in that she addresses contemporary issues and incorporates new materials and styles, as did the Mughal artists (see also Indian subcontinent §VI 4., (i)).

Wasim is part of a group of NCA graduates that does not set limits on miniature painting’s purpose and form unlike many contemporary practitioners and viewers in Pakistan. Like Shahzia Sikander before her, Wasim has introduced a dynamic technique to audiences in the USA, where she moved in ...