“How do I know when I’ve finished a painting? It’s when that element of surprise is there” (Joan Brown).
Born on February 13, 1938, she was a San Francisco native. Brown studied at the California School of Fine Art and was a prominent member of the second generation Bay Area Figurative movement. In 1960, at the age of 22, Brown had her first museum show occur at the Whitney Biennial in New York, showcasing her abstract expressionist paintings. After divorcing her first husband, Bill Brown, she was married to Bay Area Figurative sculptor, Manuel Neri, from 1962 to 1966.
Brown taught introductory painting and drawing classes at the California School of Fine Arts and University of California, Berkeley. Later in her career, Brown became increasingly interested in public sculpture. On October 26, 1990, Brown travelled to India to help with the installation of one of her obelisks. Brown died along with others, when a concrete turret from the floor above collapsed while they were installing the mosaic obelisk.