Inez Storer: Allow Nothing to Worry You

Last week a friend of mine and I played hookey to go to the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. The first Tuesday of the month is their free day.  The CJM has never disappointed.  C.J. and I typically go three or four times a year, yes on free Tuesdays, and have always been at least entertained. Sometimes we have been inspired.

The current shows include one featuring work inspired by Jewish folktales which featured several paintings by Inez Storer.

Never heard of her? I could not place her name, but I was certain I had seen the one with the sofa before. Titled Divan it is basically, just as described.  A small sofa occupies the center of the canvas. Around it are various images of people and other household items, some painted, some collage.  At 39 x 30, it’s a standard size portrait canvas.  Why it grabbed me, I cannot fully explain. I think the presentation of an empty sofa worked on my the same what William Carlos William’s red wheelbarrow does.  Simplicity of style pointing the reader towards something ordinary by claiming it is something important.

In any case, I liked Divan  and the other works by Inez Storer included in the show so much that I bought one of her books in the gift shop afterwards.

Like most exhibition catalogues, the reading is not as interesting as the viewing.  In Allow Nothing to Worry You the large majority of the space is devoted to images. There is just enough information on the artist to help move the viewer into the images.  Ms. Storer has lived most of her life in the Bay Area, largely in West Marin where she has a home and a studio.  She created art while a full-time mother.  I was amused to hear her say that when her children were young it was acceptable to put them in a play pen and leave them there long enough to get on with your own work.  You could do this, she says, in the 1970’s.

Her work included producing a large body of images using paint, mixed media collage and text.

When showed C.J. the book after my day in the city, he smiled and said he could tell why I liked her work. It basically looks just like what I am so often trying to do myself, mixing found images and paint along with bits of text.  We even share the same basic color palette.

One of her works, Noah’s Ark,  shows several types of boats, an assortment of other animals and objects, with text overwritten on it all.

After many wars and other disputes there was a great flood. A man named Noah built an ark. He filled it with history and beauty.

Which I think is a bit better than the original story. That’s what I want my ark to be filled with. History and beauty.

Ms. Storer still lives in West Marin, judging on what I can find out about her online. I thinking of trying to contact her to ask if I can visit her studio.

I love her artwork, and want to grow up to be just like her someday.

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