David Park, Women in a Landscape, 1958, oil on canvas, 50 x 56 inches (courtesy of Oakland Museum, California)
Bill Berkson reviews two biographies of painter David Park: David Park, Painter: Nothing Held Back by Helen Park Bigelow (Hudson Hills Press) and David Park: A Painter's Life by Nancy Boas (University of California Press).
Berkson writes that "Read in tandem, [the books] are distinct and complement each other perfectly. Helen Park Bigelow's is a family memoir, in which her father and the paintings of his that mean the most to her are central but not the only active characters... Her responses to the pictures are instinctive and often eloquent... Nancy Boas's book also is sympathetic, though more impersonal, a balanced and analytical account; her passion shows in how persuasively she argues for a wider recognition of Park's importance as more than the locally esteemed leader of the Bay Area Figuratives, which now in any case seems on the way."
Seed writes: "A Painter's Life offers countless fascinating insights into Park and his development, including revelations about the artists who he was exposed to and influenced by early on. Who knew, for example, that 19-year-old Park had been present at a 1930 lunch given for the visiting French artist Henri Matisse?"
Seed also notes Boas' interesting idea that Park's figurative work was a "moral" reaction to the abstract paintings of Clyfford Still: "By committing himself to the depiction of the human figure, Park created a hybrid art that literally moved the abstract inventions of Clyfford Still, Park's antithesis, into the background where they provided a sense of tone and setting. [Boas suggests] that Still's romanticism and sense of 'nature ecstasy' forms the setting for Park's figure."
John Seed tells the little known story of Edith Park Truesdell (1888-1986) "a painter, a teacher, a writer and a poet." Truesdell, a contemporary of Georgia O'Keeffe, studied with Frank Weston Benson and Edmund C. Tarbell at the Boston Museum School in 1906. Her lifelong devotion to painting was an inspiration to her nephew San Francisco Bay Area Figurative painter David Park (1911-1960).
Seed quotes Helen Park Bigelow: "As with David... painting was always Edith's fierce, abiding engagement."
Matthew Ballou looks at Richard Diebenkorn's Ocean Park paintings through the lens of "provisional painting."
Ballou writes that "To get a clear view of Diebenkorn's connection with provisionality one must think about the sense of compositional balance exemplified in the Ocean Park Series. It is a balance that is hard-won yet still teetering on the edge of disarray. Though the works are in some ways locked, they flicker and undulate; these are compositions that don’t always feel as if rightness was absolutely achieved."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.