Paul Doran vs. Beatrice Joan Wilson Powell
Brief Bio, Part I – The Boring Stuff: Beatrice Joan Wilson met David Powell at Cooper Union in the 50s. She graduated with a degree in Fine Art, and he in Civil Engineering. After graduation David Powell joined the US Navy and was sent to Guam. While living on Guam the Powells took a vacation to Japan, and while there Beatrice fell in love with Oriental art and language. After four years in Guam the Powells returned to New York City, David got a graduate degree at NYU and Beatrice went to Columbia University to study Chinese language and Chinese art. Her painting above: New Diamond Restaurant.
Cooper Union has a credible program in the arts, its graduates include Jackson Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner, as well as Eva Hesse and Milton Glaser. At Cooper Union Beatrice had an experimental and abstract expressionist phrase. These paintings are still on the wall of her house, as seen in the YouTube video below. This nonsense passed as she later pursued techinically difficult art over simple form. Previously, her art went head to head with abstractionists Helen Frankenthaler & Clyfford Still. This time she’s battling a different critter. Who? Paul Doran…look at his works to see where this is going. Let his works speak for themselves. Look right. Look below.
PAUL DORAN: Here’s what the critics say about Paul Doran: “PAUL DORAN’S small, gritty paintings remind one of Arthur Dove upon first view. Small and seemingly clumsy, like Dove’s early forays into abstraction, Doran seems to be channeling early modernism…blah-help-me-blah…” (I dread to imagine Arthur Dove)
Or: “Paul Doran is most famous for a series of work that took a love of impasto effects to the level of extreme sport, burying the canvas in a rich heap of brashly swept oil-paint… ” (Brashly swept? Impasto effects? As they say in The Tube in London: Shut up, you fucking cow!)
Don’t even try the “you don’t get art” defense: Okay, if you’re a Doran fan, you might be thinking, “Ah hah, why respond to this idiot Caleb Powell. He’s dismissing before looking deeper. This ass just doesn’t understand art.” Fair enough. I’ll fire back: art’s my damned life.
When art critics champion dross the people who don’t understand art either turn off or ignore. The people who understand art are offended or sycophantic. Art becomes less important and accessible. Paul Doran’s existence is one of the many epitomes of this dynamic. Are there any Paul Doran admirers out there? Engage me, gaze at the two Dorans…I’ve given a first glance, a hard intuitive look, and a long meditation. Conclusion: Utter squeak.
VIDEO: I give a tour of my parents’ house. Lots of books & art. Pictured is my mother at Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan, 1967 (a year before she gave birth to me).