A twenty five year retrospective of works on paper and canvas by Verna Brady was on view at the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery at Cowell College, UC Santa Cruz, from Januray 14 through February 18, 1990. The exhibition began with her Paris series of 1964 and continued to the present (1990). Her paintings and prints expressed visually her experiences, as well as the philosphies developed, through both the crisis and the triumphs in her life as an artist and a woman. While primarily expressionistic, her works often found the human figure and a personal symbolism emerging in her abstractions.
Her book, "My Search for the Real...a visual odyssey," documents those 25 years and is available here.
"I feel that once people can understand that abstract art is a VISUAL LANGUAGE which CAN be learned and understood just as any "foreign" language can (i.e. Greek! or the AUDIO LANGUAGE of music) that it opens up a whole new world to them!" (Excerpt from a letter about the show.)
From her file on the show:
My early years were spent doing realistic paintings in oil on canvas with Rembrandt my greatest influence. As my ability progressed, so did my desire to express more than the realism and Hans Hoffmann became my mentor. His teachings were clarified by George McNeill in Paris in 1964 and my work changed dramatically as a result. In 1968 I began using acrylics on canvas, often with sand, cheesecloth, tissue paper and pieces of canvas adhered to the canvas for ther textural and sensual significance. My work ranged from the purely abstract to works in which a sense of landscape or the figure emerged from the abstract.
After 1974 music and philosophy became strong influences and my work moved from primarily abstract expressionist influences to more lyric abstractions based on music, a personal symbolism and a desire to express and explore the Life Force inherent in the Universe and throbbing in each one of us. During this period works on paper also became an important means of expression-- first in monoprints and more recently watercolors as well. In my works on paper, texture is achieved by layering in a more transparent manner-- often using collage materials to print from (monoprint) or to remove or add pigment (watercolors). In the past two years geometric structuring and the figure are oftentimes found emerging from those flowing abstractions.