Ambitious exhibitions are appearing at the Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica since Jerry Barrish became the curator. The current exhibition features recent work by veteran painters William Theophilus Brown and Paul Wonner through September 10.
Brown and Wonner are now in their eighties and first gained recognition in the 1950s. Art historians associate them with the Bay Area Figurative style, although both painters have had long, hard-working careers going far beyond that period. Wonner, who has been making Dutch-influenced still lifes for many years, shows watercolors more consistent with his early Bay Area Figurative style—very fluid, spontaneous in feeling. Many of them are studio interiors showing Wonner (portrayed as more collapsing and decrepit than he really is) drawing a model who glows with youth. There is a tender play of emotion between the person who is in physical, although not artistic, decline and the buoyant strapping young lads in the center of the room.
Brown’s small oil or gouache paintings also feature males, often a single figure. He, too, circles back to an earlier style, in his case after working with highly textured abstractions. He’s made very bold pictures, some highly colored and beautifully modeled. It feels to me as if both artists come close to their early work but bring to these small, rich paintings the confidence and drawing ability that one naturally develops with time.