INNER WORLDS conscious | unconscious
john anderson paul beattie jenny hunter groat jesse reichek adam worden
INNER WORLDS conscious | unconscious artwork by john anderson paul beattie jenny hunter groat jesse reichek adam worden with essays by patricia watts george melrod
INTRODUCTION This catalogue is published on the occasion of the exhibition
Inner Worlds: Conscious | Unconscious curated by Patricia Watts for Marin Community Foundation Novato, California September 24, 2014–January 9, 2015 Special thanks to the families of the artists including Robyn Beattie, Tama Bell, Pete Groat, Laure Reichek, Ana Turner, Lee Worden, and Anandi Worden. Exhibition coordination by Patricia Watts Publication designed and produced by Jasmine Moorhead Printed by Edition One Books, Berkeley Published by Watts Art Publications wattsartadvisory.com Artwork © and courtesy the Estates of the Artists. “Introduction” and “Deep Arts” © 2014 Patricia Watts “Private Pioneers” © 2014 George Melrod Artwork photography by Jean Worden Arnold, Robyn Beattie, and Dominic Egan. Front cover: Paul Beattie. Diffusion. 1977. Acrylic on masonite, 48 x 48 in. Back cover, clockwise (all details): Jesse Reichek. 29 August, 1949. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 20 in.; John Anderson. Untitled . 1991. Acrylic on canvas. 69 1/2 x 58 1/4 in.; Adam Worden. Untitled (Oval Collage). c. 1966-1999s. Paper on masonite. 8 x 6 1/2 in.; Jenny Hunter Groat. Glimpse. 2013. Oil on canvas. 48 x 36 in. Page 3: John Anderson. Untitled (detail). 1999. Acrylic on canvas. 71 1/4 x 47 1/4 in. Page 4: Adam Worden. Untitled (Deep). c. 1966-1999. Paper and cloth on cardboard with frame. 8 x 6 in. Page 8: Jesse Reichek. Exegesis 17. 1983. 25 x 20 1/2 in.
Inner Worlds: Conscious Unconscious presents the work of five artists who migrated to the North Bay from San Francisco and the East Bay between 1962 and 1974. Each was a pioneer who created art at the interstices of the conscious and the unconscious, building on a foundation of Surrealism, Beat culture, and Abstract Expressionism. Seeking to live in and with nature, Jesse Reichek (1916–2005), Paul Beattie (1924–1988), Jenny Hunter Groat (1929–2013), John Anderson (1932–2011), and Adam Worden (1936–1999) sought to make their work while privately tapping into their inner worlds. They all had their own approach and unique style of abstraction and were disciplined and prolific creators who made art for up to fifty years. Their significant oeuvres include drawing, painting, collage, assemblage, artists’ books, and ephemera. Although they did not know one another and their art cannot be specifically identified with any one school or genre, they were all part of a generation that sought out rural environments while the United States was deep into yet another war—this time in Vietnam. The Bay Area was a haven for a counterculture seeking out alternative lifestyles and ways to comprehend humanity’s place in the universe. These five artists were seekers of knowledge who were interested, variously, in Zen, Kabbalah, Chinese calligraphy, Jungian analysis, physics, astronomy, dance, design—and especially, in making art outside the confines of the commercial gallery system. This legacy exhibition seeks to highlight and acknowledge the contributions to Bay Area art of these dedicated artists, all of whom remained relatively unknown nationally, and even regionally, for most of their lives. Patricia Watts Curator
DEEP ARTS Patricia Watts "In our depths we are congruent with the universe." —Gordon Onslow Ford
y the late 1950s, the golden age of Abstract Expressionism was coming to a close in San Francisco. The Beat movement was burgeoning—including Wallace Berman’s Semina culture, a group of avant-garde artists with an interest in the metaphysical, including Surrealism, the Kabbalah, and the Jungian concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious. This new form of experimental arts had a substantial influence on Bay Area art throughout the 1960s and beyond, informing California assemblage and Funk art, including collage, and leading to a reexamination of forms of spiritual and scientific abstraction in painting. During this era, the North Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, including Marin and Sonoma Counties, offered a unique refuge for post–World War II artists. Many of these artists chose not to compete in the gallery scene in San Francisco; they simply wanted to focus on making their work. Moving to rural environments, they sought to commune with nature, to uncover or reveal something larger than themselves, to dig deeper within to make their art—while living their lives as art.
Paul Beattie and John Anderson were the first of the five artists included in Inner Worlds to migrate to the North Bay in the early 1960s. Beattie moved to a cabin in the redwoods near Healdsburg, and Anderson moved to Pine Bishop Preserve in Inverness. Jesse Reichek, Jenny Hunter Groat, and Adam Worden each arrived around a decade later, in the early 1970s. Reichek moved to a rural woodland valley near Petaluma; Hunter Groat, to Mill Valley (she later took up residence deep in the woods in Lagunitas); and Worden, to a place near Rio Nido along the Russian River, later relocating to other Russian River locales. They all stayed in the North Bay for the final twenty to thirty years of their lives, with the exception of Worden, who returned to San Francisco in the early 1990s. According to scholar Susan Landauer, in the 1950s, it was understood that very few San Francisco Abstract Expressionist artists were interested in the unconscious mind or in exploring psychological subject matter such as Jungian archetypes. The California School of Fine Arts (CSFA), which advocated an Abstract Expressionist approach and eschewed what they thought of as “formulaic” processes, was highly influential at the time. For artists identified with CSFA, “Symbolic allusions were something to be purged from their art rather than coaxed into being through automatism.”1 According
to Landauer, some Bay Area artists who did not fit this mold sought mentors from other parts of the world. And in the case of the five artists in Inner Worlds, they eventually moved to the North Bay to develop their art independent of prevailing influences. Surrealist artist Gordon Onslow Ford encouraged “pioneer painters,” those who sought “to render the nature of reality” by venturing into their “inner-worlds,” while employing automatism.”2 As the Abstract Expressionist hegemony of the late 1950s gave way to hippie counterculture in the 1960s, all forms of self-expression, including experimental dance and theater, improvisational music, and multimedia happenings, were deemed legitimate, and artists pushed boundaries, unconcerned that their work might not fit into a prescribed or “authorized” art movement. Artistic freedom to this degree was unprecedented since the Dada movement, which arose in Europe in 1916 in response to World War I. This time, the counterculture Zeitgeist, free from a dominating Eurocentric historical context, embraced Asian influences. The late Sixties was a time when humanity was trying to make sense of the growing consciousness that we had all along been living on a relatively small planet in an enormous universe—a fact made starkly clear after humans first landed on the moon and from an iconic photo later published, in 1972, of the “blue marble”—the first high-resolution image of Earth from space. It was a time when people were trying to distinguish what was real from what was imagined, and a time when experimentation with drugs proved that our sense of reality was contingent and could be altered. The pace of technologi-
cal innovation was accelerating rapidly, and questions about, and mistrust of, artificial intelligence confronted us as computer technology developed. Many looked to psychology, and others took refuge in their early religious training to stay centered amid this maelstrom of radical, disquieting, and sometimes inspiring cultural and societal forces. In Northern California after World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam, there was also a greater awareness of Asian cultures and their contributions to art, including Chinese calligraphy. The ancient teachings of the I-Ching, Zen Buddhism, and Near East mysticism, including Kabbalah, were discovered as sources of timeless spiritual symbolism. The artists in Inner Worlds—each with his or her unique approach and signature style— were all highly disciplined and prolific, as well as seekers of knowledge from both the spiritual and scientific realms. Absorbing knowledge of the outer world, they then reinterpreted it, both consciously and unconsciously, through their art-making processes, expressing their personal inner perspectives with a conviction that these inner worlds were, in fact, by nature universal. Each of these artists accessed his or her inner world through various distinctive processes. Anderson, who painted on the floor (an automatistic mode to elicit unconscious mark making), and Hunter Groat, who was an accomplished dancer, both considered their bodies important to their painting process; both delved into unconscious states to create their paintings and were influenced by Jungian psychology and Zen. Reichek, Beattie, and Worden were very thoughtful and conscious about their creative processes, although they valued the intuitive as well.
Anderson and Reichek created their own pictorial vocabularies: Anderson employed his unique version of the “line-circle-dot” calligraphic language taught to him by Gordon Onslow Ford; and Reichek developed a symbolic language inspired by the I-Ching, the Kabbalah, and universal myths and biblical stories, to be a part of and partner of creation. Both Anderson and Reichek painted patterns and symbols intended to elicit a personal experience in the viewer to complete their work. Anderson painted representations of his inner world through (in Jung’s term) his Radiant Self, “relying on the viewer to perceive the amount of energy and depth of insight with which it was painted, depending on the openness of the observer.”3 Beattie, an amateur astronomer who built his own telescope and ground his own lenses, sought to depict, in a style he called “abstract realism,” the far reaches of deep space. Recognizing the power of delving into his imagination, he painted from his mind’s eye to create images of other, potential worlds for his viewers. Among the artists, Worden and Hunter Groat were selftaught in the visual arts. Worden, educated as a mathematician, stayed true to Beat aesthetics as he made work in collage with imagery sometimes focused on scientific subjects—technology and astronomy. Hunter Groat, having had three careers in the arts, as a dancer, a calligrapher, and an abstract painter, found the flow of her unconscious states to be her muse in each endeavor. These five artists were pioneers in the art of the spiritual, the psychological, and the physics of space and time. They sought to expand their connection with nature and themselves and, ultimately, to understand
PAUL BEATTIE. STRUCTURED SPACE. 1984. Acrylic on masonite, 48 x 48 inches. their place in the universe. They developed their art practices with reference to philosophical and spiritual contexts, and they endeavored to make art that revealed their inner worlds. They sought to make their work on the edge, the avant-garde of their generation, participating in what could be thought of as the deep arts. Each of their oeuvres, in its entirety, could be considered as a single, ongoing and interrelated series— almost, in fact, as a single work that takes its place in the larger context of the universe. 1. Susan Landauer, The San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 33–34. 2. Charles Miedzinski, “Doorways to Unknown and Infinite Depths,” in The Quest of the Inner-Worlds: Paintings by Gordon Onslow Ford (Berkeley: John F. Kennedy University, 1996), 28. 3. Fariba Bogzaran, Through the Light: An Exploration into Consciousness. Paintings by John Anderson, Richard Bowman, Lee Mullican, Gordon Onslow Ford (Berkeley, CA: John F. Kennedy University, 1997), 121.
PRIVATE PIONEERS George Melrod
iven the tumultuous social changes that were ongoing in San Francisco and the Bay Area in the second half of the 20th century, and the verdant, seductive beauty of the region—and of the North Bay landscape, in the particular—it might seem paradoxical that certain artists came here ultimately to look inward rather than outward. But from its founding, the Bay Area served as an oasis for seekers and mavericks, and that legacy helped define it after WWII as a Mecca for creative, out-of–box iconoclasts, for whom personal vision, spiritual yearning, and artistic endeavor would become fluidly entwined. Although none of them are well-known today, the quintet of artists featured in this exhibition are all noteworthy: individualists at the very least, and perhaps, in their own way, visionaries. Yet even in forging their own private worlds, their work derives obliquely from the region’s unique identity in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s as a counter-cultural bastion, where dialogues between psychology and spirituality, perception, nature and aesthetics, were embraced with fervency and rigor, and found expression in dynamic new forms. Amid the scene, unlikely mediums and disciplines intersected in all sorts of happenings—both social and professional. Abstract Expressionism was being questioned by figures such as Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff, who challenged the movement’s rigid ban on representation, while Wallace
Berman and his Semina circle were panning for mysticism in the streams of the vernacular via collage and other formats. Before long, Funk Art poked through its shell, and everything was electrified by the psychedelic sensationalism of the Sixties. In his exuberant volume Art in the San Francisco Bay Area 1945–1980, writer Thomas Albright attempts to wrangle some of the defining qualities of the Bay Area’s creative zeitgeist. Among them, he cites an affinity for the mystical expressions of non-Western religions, a predilection for the eccentricities of seemingly ‘naïve’ folk art, and—in contrast to the varieties of Abstract Expressionism that were dominant in New York and elsewhere —a persistent grounding in reality, especially the verities of light and landscape. Albright observes: “In the dialectical tug-of-wars that are always straining the seams of contemporary art, Bay Area artists have generally favored homegrown elements over imported ones, personal experience over the supposed imperatives of art history, and a conception of art as vision, process and an act of communication rather than as a matter of pure form.” While one is reluctant to force a connection between such dissimilar and distinct creative spirits, that overview seems as good a starting point as any. It would be a stretch to call these artists a community; each was deeply ensconced in his or her own practice, living and work-
and formal system based on “line-circle-dot” resonated deeply with Anderson, who found it created “a way to give the unconscious a clear channel to flow through” and to connect him with “the Deep Mind,” where one can connect to “the underlying structures and worlds and participate in the flow of creation instead of recording glimpses of it.”
ing mere miles away from each other in the North Bay, in their own separate spheres. While some, like Beattie, showed regularly, and some, like Reichek, were renowned teachers, we can safely guess they did not know each other. Their worlds did not collide. That is not to say, however, that these diverse North Bay artists were working outside any broader art world influence—after all, they had come to California from vibrant creative scenes in New York or the Midwest, and often, from other disciplines, such as theater, music or dance—but simply that, nestled in among the coasts and hills of Marin and Sonoma counties as they were, they were free to engage it or not as they liked. The path of British-born painter Gordon Onslow Ford, whose term “inner-worlds” informs this show, exemplifies a journey that led both inward and to Northern California. Arriving in Paris in 1937, he befriended the Surrealists, including André Breton, Chilean painter Matta, and future Dynaton partner Wolfgang Paalen. At the outbreak of WWII, he moved to New York, and then to Mexico, arriving in San Francisco in 1947. Establishing his studio in a ferry boat in Sausalito, he worked with a Zen master and studied Chinese calligraphy, hung out with Alan Watts, and hiked the Muir Woods, settling in Inverness in 1957. For Onslow Ford, who embraced a form of spontaneous painting, artistic practice was more about expanding consciousness than any specific brand of aesthetic formalism. His term “pioneer painting” addressed that aspiration. As he stated in the catalogue for his 1996 exhibition The Quest for Inner Worlds, it is only “after SEEING and SEEING and SEEING that the pioneer painter becomes a SEER with insight into the vast expanses of the inner-worlds, and correspondences to the nature of the universe.”
GORDON ONSLOW FORD. VOYAGERS IN SPACE. 1971. Acrylic on canvas. 79 1/2 x 47 inches. Crocker Art Museum, courtesy the Lucid Art Foundation. No one in this show epitomizes this sense of inner seeing and seeking—using painting as an act of self-discovery—more than John Anderson. Determined to become a painter and impressed by Abstract Expressionism (in particular, Jackson Pollock and Mark Tobey), Anderson met Onslow Ford and his wife in 1958; at his invitation, Anderson built a home and studio on Onslow Ford’s ridge in Inverness and the older painter became his mentor. Onslow Ford’s practice “spontaneous painting”
The symbolic system he devised, at once fundamental and complex, presents an “inner solar system” at which core he locates his “Radiant Self.” The inner world he depicts is essentially a cosmos of consciousness; his paintings surge with channeled energy. Experiencing them, one is simultaneously dazzled and challenged. His works defy all sense of scale, spanning microcosms and macrocosms, suggesting universes and atoms, cells and chakras. As they evolved, his earlier, wet-onwet paintings of the ’60s and ’70s gave way to precise, frenetic maps of radiant energy. In many of Anderson’s later compositions, we find a sphere centered with a zigzag element from which other lines and wires are emitted. These battery-like symbols represent his “Radiant Self,” what Anderson also calls “my inner-sun… my energy source, my light and my gravity.” They symbolize to him a link between the conscious ego and the “great unconsciousness it floats on”—a hinge between the conscious and unconscious mind. Yet one need not know the specific coding of Anderson’s “Sime World” lexicon to appreciate its pulsing urgency, its sense of unseen forces being harnessed and revealed. His works are voyages of discovery, but also statements of awe—a form of reverence, and of revelation. At once playful, rigorous and profound, the works of Jesse Reichek also speak of yearning to connect to larger systems of knowledge and
creation. But Reichek does not so much invent his own belief system as engage canonical sources from both Western and non-Western history. Brooklyn-born, Reichek stayed in Paris after WWII to study art, citing Mondrian, Kandinsky, and Klee as influences; their bold, distilled approach inflect his own rhythmic, early abstractions. Relocating to Berkeley in 1953 to teach design, he imbued his works with improvisatory graphic gusto, choreographing line and texture in shifting organic blobs. Novelist Saul Bellow, writing of Reichek’s 1960 drawing show in Paris, notes that it is as if Reichek believes, “as I think he does—that the creation is not ended, and that it is our greatest privilege to participate in extending it,” adding that the works tell us that “we too, any number of us, may enter into the partnership.” In the 1960s, Reichek distilled his work further, into a black-and-white calligraphic vocabulary of letterlike glyphs; in 1972, he turned his back on the commercial art world to immerse himself in his creative project. His I Ching Series of 1976–79 offered 64 canvases of 6 x 9 feet, based on the traditional Chinese divination system using sets of horizontal bars. The stark forms and colors and slippage of figure and ground in these works are expanded in his dramatic Kabbalah Series of 1980–88. Inspired by the ancient Jewish mystical practice of meditating on letterforms, these boldly graphic paintings, in striking acrylic, present the letters for the Hebrew name of God Yahweh—“YHWH”—in sequential displays that dissolve into abstraction, all but daring the viewer to decipher their meaning. His final series Myths, makes clear the breadth of Reichek’s inquiry; interrogative yet open-ended, his work candidly invites viewer interpretation, and remains disarmingly unresolved.
Although Paul Beattie called himself an “abstract realist,” the term only partially captures the range of his substantial practice. Developing his talent and instinct for abstraction in New York’s Greenwich Village, in 1954 he relocated to the nascent beatnik scene of San Francisco, where he played jazz and experimented with various media, rubbing shoulders and collaborating with such peers as Wallace Berman, George Herms, Arthur Richer, and Jay De Feo. Meanwhile, he began a lifelong study of astronomy, making his own direct observations via telescope. “It can be very interesting to compare visually the images of the world around us, as seen through the eyes of the artist and the lens of the astro-camera,” he wrote in 1975, in his tract on Art and Astrophysics. “It is most heartwarming to find that these two sources, whose wellspring is nature, and which are active processes of discovery and elucidation, need not be mutually exclusive.” In his stunning Decks of the 1970s, Beattie melds together his fascination with landscape, abstraction and atmospheric elements such as sky, clouds, and light, with masterful fluidity. The colors emerge from the surface with Hofmannesque brilliance, seemingly lifting us to a space far above the earth’s surface then pulling us back to the shifting veil of the canvas, conflating natural phenomena, man-made elements, and the artist’s own essential practice of mark-making. In his structured spaces and galactic drawings, he engages an all-over composition, guiding a dialogue between order and chaos, with nods to both Jackson Pollock and Edwin Hubble. His circular, collaged planets hark back to his own background in assemblage and modernist abstraction, reimagining them as natural
phenomena, in richly textured arenas of his own devise. That his final series was inspired by a visit to the Guggenheim speaks to the unique blend of art history and astrophysics that defined Paul Beattie’s supple and sophisticated aesthetic. The career of Jenny Hunter Groat testifies to the interplay of diverse social and artistic disciplines in the Bay Area, how they can all flow together to inform a singular creative spirit. As a dancer, she was a visible figure in the San Francisco art scene in the ’50s and ’60s; starting in 1968, she took a respite to engage Zen Buddhism and Jungian psychology and connect with nature. She reemerged as a calligrapher, a skill which, in its refined fusion of expressiveness and precision seemed to echo dance. “Calligraphy is a performing art,” she wrote. “As the Oriental calligraphers knew well, you can see a person’s frame of mind and even spiritual evolution in a single stroke of a brush.” Tellingly, in one of her early works on canvas, she affixed collaged images of herself dancing in a black leotard—in essence, turning her body into a two-dimensional calligraphic mark. In 1987, Hunter Groat began to find new voice in energetic Expressionist paintings. From austere compositions of sumi ink on rice paper, she worked her way to vivid, sumptuous abstractions that fill the surface with luscious scumbles. One gets a sense in Hunter Groat’s work of essential forces being channeled: her color sense is vibrant and tumultuous, often setting dark pine greens or plums or sapphire blues swirling up against effusive golds or tangerines, in dynamic contrast. Some summon brilliant yellow fields grappling with massing swells of brooding darkness; later works seem to
allude to Philip Guston’s raw peachy pinks or the fervid mark-making of Joan Mitchell, while nature slips in too, in glimpses of trees and flowers, rippling like flames. In several works we find small x’s used as a motif; these forms represent to her an emblem of equilibrium, grounding the organic tenor of her calligraphic vocabulary. Highlighting the artform’s performative nature, her works channel observation, discipline and vitality into the eloquent leap of a brush. Adam Worden’s biography reads like that of someone determined to remain outside of conventional middle-class society, taking him from the Beat movement in New York, to, as of 1964, the hippie scene in San Francisco, Marin and Sonoma. Throughout it all, he continued to follow the art world, and when he died in 1999, he left behind an amazing trove of collaged artworks, all undated and unsigned, which fit in half a dozen suitcases. The materials he gleaned were largely scraps, some culled from fireworks signs or florid patterned wallpaper, or pictures cropped from magazines, couched by foraged frames. One series has a diamond format; another, oval-shaped, fondly recalls Cubist collages, though Worden’s scavenged fragments also display the graphic pizzazz of Pop Art, and set him firmly within the questing sensibility of other Bay Area assemblage artists. But it is the works’ Surrealist, dreamlike quality that sets them apart; not unlike fellow introvert Joseph Cornell, Worden clearly found and followed his own Utopia Parkway. Deliciously understated at times, his compositions revel in the textural interplay of rich but muted tones. Like Bay Area collagist Jess Collins, he embraces
an implicit narrative aspect, too; Worden’s gemlike but austere compositions hint at mythical or mystical themes, juxtaposing East and West in sometimes Arcadian, sometime ominous scenarios. In one of his Untitled works (page 70), we see a patch of landscape up top, a nighttime reflection of sky and water, while below, a pair of cherubic Victorian toddlers ride a carriage of an open eggshell, hitched to a team of swans. At center, a faded pale blue fabric dabbed with tattered silver glitter emanates beams of red, white, and blue— through a haiku made of scraps, he offers an American idyll faded to a Paradise Lost. Like other of this artist’s works, the piece exudes the aura of a wondrous reality—battered, damaged, blanched, and yet still lovingly preserved. Modest in scale, humble in substance, precisely composed, they conjure magic in their vision. Despite looking inward, these artists were voyagers. Their works shimmer with consciousness, they beckon us with their heartfelt yearning to connect with something deeper and more vital than the veil of daily life reveals. We enter them with pleasure, not just because of their engaging materiality, persuasive discipline, and adventurous spirit, but because they are, at heart, so sincere—another quality that has, arguably, distinguished Bay Area artistic practice. Revisited and juxtaposed, their carefully nurtured private worlds are ours now, too.
George Melrod writes frequently about contemporary art, and currently lives in Los Angeles. Since 2006, he’s been the founding editor of art ltd. magazine.
JOHN ANDERSON After serving in the Korean War, John Anderson (1932–2011) returned to his hometown of Chicago to study painting at the University of Illinois. He then attended Mexico City College, before moving to Northern California to enroll at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. In the same year, 1958, he met Surrealist painter Gordon Onslow Ford, who was to become his mentor. Anderson was later invited to live and work as an artist on Onslow Ford’s property in Inverness in the early 1960s. Borrowing the Surrealist technique of automatism, or “spontaneous painting,” Anderson developed a painting style employing what Onslow Ford referred to as elemental marks, including “line-circle-dot.” Considered to be “pre-thought forms,” such marks constitute a metaphysical language to explore states of consciousness as a material process in which the painter can paint motifs that invite deeper access to the unconscious. The marks also allow the swift speed necessary to keep the work impersonal. This process gave Anderson a technique for exploring the deeper parts of his psychological being or truth—what he referred to as his inner psychic solar system. While building on this metaphor, he developed his personal techniques and signature markings, a combination of Surrealism and spiritual abstraction. In 1966 he created what he identified as his “beginning image,” Sime World, which represents the birth of his creative self and is the primary source of all his successive paintings—like “a seed brought into the light.” Anderson felt this work “happened to him” when he was present and focused in the moment and painted without thought or intention. The name Sime comes from two words, simultaneous and me, representing, in Jung’s terminology, the Radiant Self who serves as a guide to the inner worlds of the mind.
"I am in awe at the wonders of creation and the mystery of living, breathing, and being. That awe is a form of reverence which for me is the heart of artistic creativity." —John Anderson
For over five decades, Anderson created more than five hundred paintings and drawings expressing natural wonder and representing cosmic order. Without thought, without intention, and without effort, he painted what he called his “Deep Paintings” on unstretched canvas placed on the floor—throwing, pouring, dripping, splashing, dotting, stroking, and brushing while activating his unconscious. After years of relative obscurity in the art world, Anderson had a solo exhibition at Weinstein Gallery in San Francisco in 2009, leading to the placement of over one hundred paintings with collectors and museums.
JOHN ANDERSON. UNTITLED. 1962. Acrylic on canvas on board. 37 1/2 x 26 1/2 inches.
JOHN ANDERSON. UNTITLED. 1962. Acrylic on canvas. 43 1/2 x 26 3/4 inches.
JOHN ANDERSON. SIME. 1966. Acrylic on Haruki paper. 41 x 36 inches.
JOHN ANDERSON. UNTITLED. 1972. Acrylic on canvas. 51 x 48 inches.
JOHN ANDERSON. UNTITLED. 1981. Acrylic on canvas. 34 1/2 x 20 1/2 inches.
JOHN ANDERSON. UNTITLED. 1989. Acrylic on canvas. 45 1/2 x 67 inches.
JOHN ANDERSON. UNTITLED. 1992. Acrylic on canvas. 57 x 48 inches.
JOHN ANDERSON. UNTITLED. 1991. Acrylic on canvas. 69 1/2 x 58 1/4 inches.
JOHN ANDERSON. BLAST OFF. 1993. Acrylic on canvas. 48 x 96 inches.
JOHN ANDERSON. UNTITLED. 1999. Acrylic on canvas. 71 1/4 x 47 1/4 inches.
PAUL BEATTIE After attending the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts and following an eight-year period in New York City, where he had gallery representation and enjoyed success as a painter, Paul Beattie (1924–1988) moved his young family to San Francisco in 1954. The Beat movement was under way, and he was soon collaborating in mixed media with artists Wallace Berman and George Herms. The late 1950s through the early 1960s was a rich and lively time in Beattie’s career. He played his saxophone in the city and made art on his own terms. He designed light shows and art films, which were screened throughout the United States and Europe. In 1963, after a decade of making improvisational works, he took his growing family to Sonoma County. It was an ideal setting for Beattie to spend uninterrupted hours at his studio in the redwoods, where his art flourished. Beattie studied astronomy and physics throughout his life, and his interest in deep space informed his paintings and drawings, which he described as both abstract and real, or “abstract realism.” In his manuscript “Art and Astrophysics,” he identified the source of his images (which he called “interior imagery”) as his inner flow, his imagination. Depicting astronomical evolution in his drawings of galactic cores and protoclusters, Beattie felt that he was tapping into the interconnectivity between human consciousness and the cosmos. He compared his process of drawing with the complex physics through which stars are born: “by accretion . . . an additive process . . . with a beginning . . . from one mark to the next . . . toward completion.”
"Art is one of the means by which man articulates his inner vision and thoughts. . . . the connection between interior and exterior, between the man and the manifestation of his spirit. . .the elemental drive. . . the resonance. . . it can stir and excite the aura of the individual consciousness. . . like a lens it can focus our resources to a point of concentrated endeavor." —Paul Beattie
During his career he made mixed-media paintings, collages of planets, painted cloudscapes, and “decks”—landscapes with abstracted horizons. Beattie’s last series, which he worked on during his final two years, consisted of 340 large graphite drawings of individual terraformed planets. He created these drawings, known as the Guggenheim series, for presentation in an ordered progression up the rotunda staircase at the Guggenheim Museum. The installation, however, was never realized in his lifetime. Beattie was born in Bay City, Michigan. He attended the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, Sonoma State University, and University of California, Berkeley, and he taught at Santa Rosa Junior College from 1974 to 1980. Beattie’s oeuvre includes about four thousand drawings, collages, constructions, sculptures, paintings, poetry, and ephemera.
PAUL BEATTIE and GEORGE HERMS. THE GAME FOR ANGELS. 1963. Deck of cards. Printed by MC Press. Ed. of 50.
PAUL BEATTIE. CLOUDSCAPE. 1965. Collage. 12 x 12 inches.
PAUL BEATTIE. SOFT DECK. 1973. Acrylic on masonite. 48 x 48 inches.
PAUL BEATTIE. HANGING LANDSCAPE. 1975. Acrylic on masonite. 12 x 12 inches.
PAUL BEATTIE. GALACTIC CORE (SUPER MASSIVE BLACK HOLE AGGREGATE). 1979. Graphite on paper. 9 x 11 inches.
PAUL BEATTIE. DIFFUSION. 1977. Acrylic on masonite. 48 x 48 inches.
PAUL BEATTIE. RED COLLAGE PLANET. 1982. Acrylic and mixed media on board, 24 x 24 inches.
PAUL BEATTIE. GUGGENHEIM SERIES. 1987. Graphite on paper. 18 x 19 1/2 inches.
JENNY HUNTER GROAT A native of California’s Central Valley, Jenny Hunter Groat (1929–2013) moved to San Francisco in 1951 to join the Anna Halprin–Welland Lathrop School and Dance Company. Over the next six years, she gave several solo dance performances, and she studied with internationally renowned modern dance teachers Charles Weidman and Daniel Nagrin. From 1954 to 1957, she directed a modern dance summer program at Reed College in Oregon, where she met her husband, Pete Groat, and where she took her first calligraphy class from celebrated calligrapher and professor Lloyd Reynolds. After participating in a 1961 summer dance workshop in New York City taught by Merce Cunningham, Hunter Groat started her own dance company—which she named Dance West—in San Francisco. For the next eight years she produced and performed in several dance-theater experimental art happenings. Then, in 1968, after seventeen years of dancing, she studied Zen and underwent Jungian analysis for the next five years. In 1972 the Groats decided to move out of the city, to Mill Valley, in order to be closer to nature. Over the next twenty years, Hunter Groat developed her calligraphy practice, producing both commercial work and calligraphic art. She painted daily improvisational calligraphic compositions and made book structures that included her poetry. She was also widely sought after to teach calligraphy, although she later stopped doing commercial work and teaching to focus on calligraphy as a pure art form. Extremely disciplined, Hunter Groat was an avant-garde artist who matured as a dancer during the era of Abstract Expressionism in San Francisco. She believed her dance training—including improvisation and sensory awareness—was of great value for her visual art. Her third and final career, after dance and calligraphy, was as an abstract painter. During the last twenty years of her life, she made over one hundred artworks, including calligraphic drawings of sumi ink on rice paper, collage works with mixed media, and lush expressionistic oil paintings. Hunter Groat was born in Modesto, California. At nineteen, she attended a music conservatory in Stockton. After many years in San Francisco, Hunter Groat and her husband lived together in Lagunitas, West Marin County, for over forty years.
"The consistent thread has been the continued search for art which is truly my own, trying to keep it original, from my own deepest, soul sources, and avoiding all temptations to be derivative or to be lured away from following it." —Jenny Hunter Groat
JENNY HUNTER GROAT. LE POEME. 1979. Calligraphy ink on paper. 30 x 22 inches.
JENNY HUNTER GROAT. PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A BULL JUMPER. 1995. Mixed media. 28 x 22 inches.
JENNY HUNTER GROAT. CALL TO THE WIND. 1997. Sumi ink, gouache, and gilding on paper. 40 x 32 inches.
JENNY HUNTER GROAT. LEGEND (diptych; not pictured). 1995. Sumi ink on rice paper with gilding. 28 x 41 inches.
JENNY HUNTER GROAT. ONE MORE SPRING. 2006. Oil on canvas 48 x 36 inches.
JENNY HUNTER GROAT. NEARING HOME. 2007. Oil on canvas. 48 x 36 inches.
JENNY HUNTER GROAT. THE WHITE ROSE. 2010. Oil on canvas. 48 x 36 inches.
JENNY HUNTER GROAT. BEYOND ARCADIA. 2010. Oil on canvas. 48 x 36 inches.
JENNY HUNTER GROAT. DEOSIL. 2010. Oil on canvas. 48 x 36 inches.
JENNY HUNTER GROAT. GLIMPSE. 2013. Oil on canvas. 48 x 36 inches.
JESSE REICHEK Jesse Reichek (1916–2005) arrived in Berkeley in 1953 to teach design at the University of California, Berkeley, after painting full-time for four years in Paris. His early works were suggestive of microscopic amoeba-like forms, which he continued to paint through the 1950s, during the Abstract Expressionist period. In 1958 he began showing at the Betty Parsons Gallery, and he was also represented by the Galerie des Cahiers d’Art in Paris. Through the 1960s, Reichek developed a visual language characterized by organic, graphic abstraction and nonrepresentational forms that interfaced with each other. After ten years of exhibiting and selling his work, he withdrew from gallery representation so he could dedicate himself to painting without commercial concerns. He moved his family to a rural setting near Petaluma. Around this time, he was invited to participate in the Art + Technology Program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from 1969 to 1971. He collaborated with a physicist and a mathematician from IBM, and together they developed a computer model to generate variations of Reichek’s pictorial elements. The artist, who saw each of his paintings as “a fragment of a larger body of work or of a larger fragment, “was interested in how the computer could mimic or create work that displayed a biological design, or “genetic code.” He was interested in how his work expressed “the structure of process, the process of creation, and the creation of relationship.” Reichek acknowledged Kandinsky, Klee, and Mondrian as his greatest influences. Over sixty years, he painted nearly three thousand works representing a unique synthesis of painting and spirituality. They include the series I-Ching (1976–79), Kabbalah (1980–88), Song of Songs (1988–90), and The Myths (1990–2005). The last solo exhibition of Reichek’s work was a yearlong retrospective entitled “Partners in Creation,” which comprised six successive miniexhibitions. It was presented at the Marin French Cheese Company in Petaluma in 2005–6, thirty years after his last public showing.
"I see each of my paintings as a fragment and what one calls a 'body of work,' as only a larger fragment. I believe this can be shown to be true of existent individuals and societies." —Jesse Reichek
Reichek was born in Brooklyn and educated at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Institute of Design in Chicago, and the Académie Julian in Paris. He taught at the University of Michigan, the Institute of Design, and the IIT. From 1953 to 1986, he was professor of design and city and regional planning at UC Berkeley. He spent the last twenty years of his life working in seclusion. He credited his wife, Laure, as his muse and main supporter during their fifty-five years of marriage.
JESSE REICHEK. 8 AUGUST, 1956. Oil on canvas. 31 x 25 inches.
JESSE REICHEK. UNTITLED. 1958. Oil on masonite. 48 x 23 1/2 inches.
JESSE REICHEK. 29 AUGUST, 1949. Oil on canvas. 25 1/2 x 20 inches.
JESSE REICHEK. 25 OCTOBER, 1950. Oil on canvas. 64 x 52 inches.
JESSE REICHEK. 3 MAY, 1950. Oil on canvas. 25 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches.
JESSE REICHEK. UNTITLED. 1980. Silver metal work. 4 x 4 inches (approx.).
JESSE REICHEK. ONE, ETC. 1964. Oil on canvas. 40 x 31 inches.
JESSE REICHEK. NINETEEN, ETC. 1965. Oil on canvas. 40 X 31 inches.
JESSE REICHEK. e.g., 109. 1967. Acrylic on canvas. 82 x 62 inches.
JESSE REICHEK. EXEGESIS 38. 1984. Acrylic on canvas. 48 x 72 inches
ADAM WORDEN In the early 1960s, Adam Worden (1936–1999) participated in the late stage of New York City’s Beat scene, performing as an actor in experimental theater and happenings. In 1964 he followed the movement west, to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, which became the epicenter of post–World War II counterculture. This is where Worden began his life’s work making collages. Combining a funky Beat aesthetic with utopian visions of hippie culture, Worden’s creative output included a series of unframed oval and diamond-shaped collages, framed mixed-media collages, and neon billboard collages, as well as artists’ books, assemblage sculpture, and collage business cards and playing cards. He worked both deliberately and intuitively to compose words and images with materials gleaned randomly from daily life, using cut and torn pieces of wallpaper, magazines, fabrics, cardboard, board games, comic books, candy wrappers, and paperback covers, each glued on masonite and wall paneling. In this work an emerging consciousness was carefully revealed. In 1974 Worden moved with his young family to Sonoma County and settled along the Russian River, where he lived in the redwood forest for over a decade and changed his first name from John to Adam. He worked continuously, without gallery representation and without the encouragement of interest from the art world. In fact, his collages were never publicly exhibited during his lifetime. His niece, Jean Worden Arnold, introduced Worden’s work to the Salt Lake Art Center, where the artist’s first and only public solo exhibition was staged in 2005. After Worden’s wife, Bhavani, died in 1986, he returned to San Francisco, where he continued to make art for another decade. At the time of his death, at the age of sixty-three, his entire life’s work fit into half a dozen suitcases. His legacy from over thirty years of making art included approximately four hundred works—all untitled and none dated or signed. Together they could be seen collectively as one continuous work of art. Worden was born in Montana and raised in Lewiston, Idaho. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Whitman College in Washington State. A self-taught artist, he lived outside the mainstream and rejected middle-class values throughout his life.
"Nobody knows who I am or what I do. Not even I." —Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan 61
ADAM WORDEN. UNTITLED (OVAL COLLAGE). c. 1966-1999. Paper on masonite. 8 x 6 1/2 inches.
ADAM WORDEN. UNTITLED. c. 1966-1999. Paper, cloth, and cardboard on masonite with frame. 13 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches.
ADAM WORDEN. UNTITLED. c. 1966-1999. Paper, cardstock, and cardboard on masonite with frame. 8 x 6 inches.
ADAM WORDEN. UNTITLED. c. 1966-1999. Paper and linoleum on masonite with frame. 7 3/4 x 5 3/4 inches.
ADAM WORDEN. UNTITLED (DIAMOND). c. 1966-1999. Paper on cardboard. 8 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches.
ADAM WORDEN. UNTITLED (NEON COLLAGE). c. 1980s. Paper, cardboard, and plastic on masonite. 24 x 14 inches
ADAM WORDEN. BUSINESS CARDS. c. 1966-1999. Paper on business card. Each: 3 1/2 x 2 inches.
ADAM WORDEN. UNTITLED (MIRROR COLLAGES). c. 1966-1999. Mixed media on cardboard. Each: 15 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches.
ADAM WORDEN. UNTITLED. c. 1966-1999. Mixed media on cardboard. 10 x 8 inches.
watts art publications
This book is from the exhibition of the same title presented at the Marin Community Foundation Fall 2014 and includes works by John Anderson...
Published on Sep 24, 2014
This book is from the exhibition of the same title presented at the Marin Community Foundation Fall 2014 and includes works by John Anderson...