Though the painter and collage artist Jean Conner worked alongside these kinds of seminal Bay Area artists as her husband Bruce, Joan Brown and Jay DeFeo, she’s rarely talked about in the identical breath. That’s transforming. The concurrent exhibitions, “Jean Conner: Collage” at the San Jose Museum of Art and “Jean Conner: Inner Garden” at the Marin Museum of Up to date Art, mark the 1st solo museum outings in the artist’s 6-decade career, promising significantly-belated recognition.
“Collage” hosts 78 performs from 1957-2021, structured across 5 thematic sections, made from pictures clipped from midcentury, large-format magazines like Existence and Ladies’ Property Journal. The uniform, retro experience of all the resource product helps make each collage experience contiguous, even as Conner combines disparate elements to build surreal images.
Collage lets artists to create photographic fictions — a paradox Conner obviously delights in and excels at. Some of Conner’s collages are densely layered, many others sparse, but all possess the joyful excellent of an artist poking at the boundaries of her medium. Conner does so finest in a controlled structure, combining a several aspects exactingly, and the items that experience do so when they turn into confused by the inclusion of far too quite a few aspects.
“Too Numerous Cooks,” 1970, for case in point, is a playful scene in which a group of chefs sample the contents of a pot. Right away out of spot, nevertheless expertly inserted, is a bat flitting between a ladle and one particular of the chef’s lips. Extended viewing gives other surprises: a huge roast turkey putting on a pair of chef’s hats on its legs a feminine arm sneaking around the edge of the edge of the chopping block.
“Blue Pyramid,” 1970, is an additional standout, however the titular landmark is hardly the heart of awareness. This piece, reminiscent of a classic motion picture poster, exemplifies Conner’s eye for composition. Two pictures of women — a significant, floating head in the background and a reclining determine in the foreground — intertwine, the folds of their garments making it tricky to distinguish in which one particular commences and the other ends.
The motif of the floating head is recurrent throughout many of the pieces in “Inner Garden,” which features a handful of collage and combined-media pieces, but mostly focuses on Conner’s paintings and drawings. Conserve for a several graphite floral scientific studies, these is effective are mostly expressionistic renderings of angelic figures and flowers. The softness of the paintings contrasts with the purely representational collage perform in Conner’s oeuvre, emphasizing her versatility involving mediums.
The large, vivid watercolor, “Aztec Warrior,” 1990, which verges on total abstraction, conveys additional of a sensation than an graphic of the titular subject matter, in a deluge of feathery red and orange brush strokes. “Red Gladiolas,” c. 1968, which is much more representational, maintains a dreamy haze in its moist depiction of vibrant purple bouquets from a dark qualifications, also evoking a mood, this one somber and silent.
All artwork shows the artist’s endeavor to apprehend the world, utilizing their picked medium to filter ordeals. The artist also makes worlds of their personal. Since photos have a tendency to characterize genuine lifetime, Conner’s collages have the experience of reaching into the world and manipulating what’s there to accommodate her eyesight.
Conversely, Conner’s paintings let for viewers to share in her inside working experience, illustrating her psychological reaction to the entire world all-around her. It is Conner’s skill to chart equally of these mysterious landscapes with confidence that marks her mastery. I would go anywhere with her.