First Brush Stroke 2001

Jan Owen, First Brush Stroke (Books 1, 2, and 3), 2001; Museum Purchase: Members’ Acquisition Fund

Jan Owen says that First Brush Stroke (Books 1, 2, and 3) began “with three long panels of golden yellow paste paper. Just as I was considering what words to write, one of my favorite poets, John Tagliabue, sent me a poem that became the key: ‘The first brush stroke, now where will we go?...Order will be made like still music.’ All the poems in this piece are by Tagliabue, they sing about words, color, spirit, dance, and love.”

Paste paper is often Owen’s starting point because the process of creating it allows her to explore color and pattern. From there, she layers calligraphic brushstrokes and columns of text.

Owen has long been interested in the ways human beings communicate, whether through language, music, color, or gesture, and she seeks to combine multiple approaches in her artworks. First Brush Stroke incorporates both written language and bold expressive brushwork that provides a visual record of the artist’s gestures as she made them.