Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Category: East of Borneo

Preparing to Live: Roger Brown in California

Rosa Californica, 1994

Rosa Californica, 1994

The tiny settlement of La Conchita, California, is one of those places that are at once utterly rational and crazily perverse. A neat oblong of ten streets perpendicular to the Pacific Ocean, it is almost as simple and idyllic as a seaside village could be—except that between La Conchita and the ocean lies the Ventura Freeway and a railroad. Until a few years ago, when a pedestrian tunnel was dug under the road, many residents chose to duck through a long storm drain instead of sprinting across six lanes of traffic when they wanted to watch the sunset on the usually deserted beach. (1)  La Conchita is hugged by mountains and is as close to the ocean as it is possible for non-millionaires to get anywhere between San Francisco and Mexico. It brought Roger Brown closer to the man he loved, whom he had lost only years before. It was the place in which he chose to draw closer to death, in an imperfect paradise of his own devising. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Surrealist Bungalow: William N. Copley and the Copley Galleries (1948-49)

William N. Copley with his own paintings in Paris, 1951, two years after he closed the Copley Galleries and left Los Angeles. Photo: Mike De Dulmen. Courtesy the Estate of William N. Copley.

William N. Copley with his own paintings in Paris, 1951, two years after he closed the Copley Galleries and left Los Angeles. Photo: Mike De Dulmen. Courtesy the Estate of William N. Copley.

“No one in their right mind would have considered trying to open a Surrealist gallery in the California environment, which, of course, is what we decided to do late one whiskied evening,” wrote the artist and collector William N. Copley. “In the white haze of the morning after, we were both too proud to perish the thought.” 1 Read the rest of this entry »