Christine Crozier, Curator
JOAN SAVO IN PACIFIC GROVE
Born in Portland, Oregon, Savo was active in San Francisco’s North Beach during the 1950’s painting in the Bay Area Figurative style. She said, of her broadly brushed figurative style “Visualizing, rather than working from a model, provides me a sustaining theme with fewer limitations and more possibilities in defining the human form.” Critics at the time felt she was the logical successor to artist David Park.
The Bay Area Figurative Movement was widely seen as the first significant North American art movement to be based on the West Coast. Artists in this group including David Park, Elmer Bischoff and Richard Diebenkorn generally abandoned Abstract Expressionism–non-objective painting–in favor of working with the figure in a free, loose style.
Savo had many exhibitions including a solo exhibition at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in 1964. Her work is held in many outstanding private collections as well as several prestigious public collections including the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Oakland and Monterey Museums.
When Savo moved to Pacific Grove she lived in the Del Monte Park area, a bohemian enclave with neighbors Paul McReynolds, Russ Eddy, Jay Chaffin, Duane Matterson, Janet Digesu and others. According Erik Nelson who grew up there as the son of an artist, “the lots were going from $150 and the sheriff’s department patrolled infrequently, there were no building codes and the roads were unpaved. They built homes in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Bauhaus style, made art, debated politics, eked out a living and made families.
Their neighborhood was integrated at a time when racial restrictions kept minorities out of much of the Monterey Peninsula. Our parents were not swayed by convention.”
While in Pacific Grove in the 1970’s Savo practiced geometric abstraction. The painting in the possession of the library is a beautiful example of the style. Savo is said to have visited the library many times before she decided what she would paint and where it would hang.
Thomas Albright, Art in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945-1980