I grew up hearing stories about how my family members worked for the Crocker family. One of the members of my family was their driver, another supposedly tutored someone in the family in art. I like seeing all the different art styles. I decided to look at some contemporary works on my recent visit to the Crocker.
I saw an acrylic painting named “Untitled (Industrial Cityscape)” by William Theophilus Brown. Brown was an American artist, born in Moline, Illinois on April 7, 1919. He died at 92 on February 8, 2012. Brown began painting recognizable figures at a time when non-objective paintings were the norm. During the 1960’s, Brown became a member of the “Bay Area Figurative Movement.” These group of artist went against the prevailing art style of the time, which was abstract expressionism. These artists wanted to return to a style that focused on figurative representations of what they saw. The Bay Area Figurative Movement is broken up into three groups: The first generation, the “bridge” generation , and the second generation. Brown was a member of the bridge generation.
The untitled industrial cityscape painting was completed in 1988, and is 54 inches by 60 inches. The painting is representational. It wasn’t extremely detailed. Mostly, just the basic architecture of the buildings were represented. The perspective of the painting was done from a particular point in the alley. Most cityscapes that I can remember seeing put the viewer dead center in the middle of the street. This painting puts you off to the side of an alley. You can tell this, in part, because the angles of the lines on the right side of the painting are almost straight, the ones on the left side are much more diagonal. The light source was represented by light gray on the street in the background, and progressively darker shadows toward the foreground.
The painting reminded me of an architect’s 3-dimensional drawing. I liked it. Even though it wasn’t highly realistic, it still captured the feeling of being in an alley. I think the placement of the viewer’s perspective really helped to create this. Putting the viewer dead center in the middle of the street, in my opinion, gives it an unrealistic feel. It’s feels artificial. Brown put the viewer off to the side, and made it feel more like you might actually be walking down this street.
Tracy is a DJ with KSSU Sacramento States only student run radio station.