Book Review - Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in that order) by Bridget Quinn
I first heard about Broad Strokes by Bridget Quinn after I moved to St. Louis and started paying close attention to the events being held at the St. Louis Art Museum. The discovery of the Members Book Club was the event I was most excited about (for pretty obvious reasons.) And even better - all of the books on the list for this year were new to me! So I quickly reached out to Bridget Quinn and her publisher to bring you this review and Thursday's author interview. Little did I know at that time that this would skyrocket to the top of my favorite nonfiction books. I loved Loved LOVED this book - and not just because I'm a woman or because I love art, but because the stories in this book made me love LIFE even more. Heartwarming, inspiring, educational, and freaking hilarious at times. You'll want to read this book.
Broad Strokes is about 15 female artists: Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Leyster, Adelaide Labille-Guiard, Marie Denise Villers, Rosa Bonheur, Edmonia Lewis, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Vanessa Bell, Alice Neel, Lee Krasner, Louise Bourgeois, Ruth Asawa, Ana Mendieta, Kara Walker, and Susan O'Malley. I hadn't recognized a single name on that list (surprisingly, and embarrassingly...because one of them was married to Jackson Pollock.) But while reading this book I realized I was familiar with a lot of their work (whew! But also, shame on me for not learning their names.) A few works that stuck out to me were: Maman by Louise Bourgeois at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas and Gone: An Historical Romance of a Civil War as It Occurred between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart by Kara Walker at MOMA in NYC. I distinctly remember thinking how beautiful it was until. as Bridget Quinn stated in her book, "Then I looked closer. My next thought: Holy. Shit...[it] was, frankly, terrifying."
Not surprisingly, this book got me thinking about my own art collection and the female artists I admire. My husband and I have amassed a small collection of art in our 10 years of marriage and after reading this book we began to inventory our collection to see the balance of male and female artists. Result: we have a lot more female artists, and just by happenstance. I'm proud of that fact, nonetheless. Art is certainly my weakness. My husband and I don't own a lot of stuff (for the past 1.5 years we lived in a one bedroom apartment in downtown Chicago...we didn't have room for a lot of stuff) but we have art. We often buy it in place of souvenirs...or as a way to remember important times in our lives. Here are a few of my favorites:
Top left: Fullerton Bookclub by Katherine Corden from her Shades of Chicago series. I saw this painting on Instagram and I knew it had to be mine - my favorite location in Chicago + a bookclub...I mean, it is hard to imagine that she didn't paint this with me in mind. I met Katherine at her adorable apartment when I picked up the painting and I've been a fan ever since.
Top right: The Dapper Dogwood on Brandon St by Jenny McGee. I own five paintings, one bracelet, and one print by Jenny. She was the first artist we purchased original art from and I'm pretty sure I'm her biggest fan. I still feel the loss of not owning this piece - someday, when I'm no longer paying student loans or house payments, I believe in my heart of hearts that it will be mine.
Bottom left: My husband and I purchased this piece on an anniversary trip to the Indiana Dunes. We weren't on the market for a new painting but we stumbled into Holly Jackson's gallery and we both loved how she portrayed the dunes in this painting. We also spent quite a bit of time talking to Holly about her career as an artist, her influences and inspirations. I really enjoyed meeting her and I cherish the memories of our anniversary trip.
Bottom right: I couldn't afford this piece by Susan Mauck when I spotted it at Susan's gallery, but I also couldn't leave it behind. So I paid for half of it and came back after my paycheck was deposited into my account to pay the remaining balance and bring it home. It reminded me a bit of Monet with the lily pads but I really loved the drip technique (which appeared later in Katherine Corden's piece! I still love that effect.)