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Painter John (Jack) Wesley and wife, author Hannah Green


 A page dedicated to two old friends of mine, internationally exhibited painter Jack Wesley and his wife the late author Hannah Green. After Hannah's passing, Jack eventually found another constant partner in painter Patti Broderick

 

Jack Wesley

Hannah Green

 


Jack Wesley

 

More Jack Wesley Links

• 'Touche Boucher John Wesley's Gallant Subjects', article by Dave Hickey

P.S.1 exhibition of John Wesley's art from 1961-2000, press release

 

 

LONG A CULT FAVORITE, PAINTER JOHN WESLEY RECEIVES AN OVERDUE FIRST U.S. RETROSPECTIVE, ON VIEW THROUGH NOVEMBER AT NEW YORK'S P.S.1 CONTEMPORARY ART CENTER. TO MARK THE OCCASION, DAVE HICKEY OFFERS AN APPRECIATION OF THE POP ECCENTRIC'S WRY AND WHIMSICAL FOUR-DECADE CAREER.

When post-global-warming anthropologists begin paddling through the streets of Manhattan in search of visible evidence that this republic was, in its tone and temper, the cosmopolitan democracy that it purported to be, one can only hope that the earnest scientists will stumble across a trove of John Wesley's paintings in some tenth-floor loft. If they do, they will almost immediately begin to think better of us. They will think, Hey! These weren't such bad dudes! How could they be? They were cool, generous, and urbane; they encouraged high spirits and valued sex enough to make it elegant and funny. They will be wrong, of course, since you and I both know that, should they fail to come upon this trove of Wesleys, further evidence of our levity, civility, and sanity will be hard to come by--thus, the virtue and necessity of John Wesley. He has always aspired to the best job available to an artist of his generation: Court Painter to the People, Purveyor of Popular Elegance, Ambienceur of the Democracy.

He has also lived an exquisitely charmed life--which is to say, a private one. Born John Mercer Wesley in Los Angeles in 1928, he began making paintings in 1953, while employed as an illustrator at Northrop Aircraft. He has continued to make them throughout the intervening forty-eight years. He moved to New York in 1960 and continues to reside there, living the life of a painter, exhibiting his work whenever he wants to, selling it whenever he needs to, and consorting with his peers. In the process, almost magically, Wesley has managed to assemble an enormous international constituency of devotees without once attracting the silly glare of paparazzo adulation, the resentful hysteria of political acrimony, or the cloudy glaze of educational explanation. In fact, Wesley's continuing vogue as a painter is, in its every aspect, more closely akin to that of a great jazz musician or songwriter than to that of an American artist. In the enclave of enthusiasts, he is simply John Wesley, an acknowledged master, the Co le Porter of painting. Those who know know; those who care care; those who don't know or care don't have a clue, but that's okay, too.

In recent years, when you come across references to Wesley, he is usually characterized as an eccentric Pop painter with surrealist tendencies. Which is true enough, I suppose, if we remember that 90 percent of Western painting from Giotto to Natoire is "surrealist" by contemporary standards, and if we take into account the broader agenda of Pop, which was always more about "art" than "pop." Even so, I cannot think of a single Pop or Surrealist painting whose narrative content we respond to as we do to Wesley's. Because John Wesley, when he wants to be, is really sexy--as sexy as a Tijuana Bible or a Boucher divertissement. This penchant for erotic narrative, I think, defines Wesley as more an eighteenth-century fabulist than a surrealist, and as a Pop artist only in the sense that Pop empowered the restoration of traditional genre in cartoon drag. So, we need to remember that, at the moment of Pop's inception, American art was starving in the midst of plenty, and that young artists like John Wesley, who bega n exhibiting in the early '60s, could hardly have failed to notice that, while modernist painting was obsessively refining itself out of existence, the full resources of historical art making, all of its traditional idioms and repertoire of emblematic imagery, lay immediately to hand, alive and available in the pastures of vernacular culture.
 

 

 


Hannah Green

 

Author, The Dead of the House and Little Saint

 

Reviews of Hannah Green's Little Saint:

 • At Salon.com

 • At FrenchCulture.org
 • At Random House
 • At Storyfest.com
 

 

Career of Hannah Green (1927-1996)
Taken from Stanford Site

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Matthew Addy and Mary McAlpin Green, Hannah Green was a precocious literary child, who began working as a writer at an early age. She studied fiction as an undergraduate at Wellesley under Vladimir Nabokov, and in 1956 with Wallace Stegner at Stanford, where she became a close friend to Tillie Olsen and also initiated her life-long career in teaching. She was awarded a MacDowell Colony Fellowship in 1960 and spent several terms there in residence. She moved to New York in 1961 where she served as a research assistant to Matthew Josepson until 1965. The early history of her family became the subject of her first book, The Dead of the House (1973). It was a critically acclaimed and carefully wrought work which took her over 10 years to complete. In 1971 she married the artist John Wesley, with whom she regularly spent summers in France. This resulted in the publication of a children’s book, In the City of Paris (1985), as well as her second novel. On a visit to the village of Conques, she was inspired by the story of the child martyr, Saint Foy, which became the subject of Little Saint (2000), published posthumously by Random House.

 


Last Modified on April 29, 2004
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