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Ph.D. 1977, University of New Mexico
MA 1973, University of Texas
B.F.A. 1971, Southern Methodist University
Betty Ann Brown is an art historian, critic, and curator. She was trained in Latin American art history, receiving her B.F.A. in art history and painting from Southern Methodist University in 1971 and her Masters degree in art history from the University of Texas at Austin in 1973. Her 1977 Ph.D. is from the University of New Mexico, where she studied Pre-Columbian art with Mary Elizabeth Smith and the History of Photography with Beaumont Newhall. After moving to Los Angeles in the late 1970s, her interest shifted from ancient Latin American art to Chicano art and, ultimately, to all modern and contemporary art.
Brown has curated several major exhibitions, including "Muses," a pairing of nine women artists with nine women writers, Pasadena Armory for the Arts, November 1995; "Family Album," views of alternative families, Cal State Fullerton, September 1994; and "Utopian Dialogues," twelve installations by artists responding to conversations about utopia, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, September 1993. She collaborated with visual artist Cheryl Dullabaun to co-create the installation Persephone Speaks: Whispers from the Undergroundî at Cal Poly Pomona, Spring 1998. Her image and text piece from that exhibition was shown again at the College of the Canyons, Spring 1999.
Brown has published on art for three decades. After years of writing about Latin American art for journals both here and abroad, she began writing criticism in 1982. She has worked as a contributing editor for Arts and Artweek and the Los Angeles Reader, has written frequently for Artscene, and was founding editor of Visions, the Los Angeles art quarterly. She has produced and contributed to numerous exhibition catalogues, including most notably Roland Reiss, A Seventeen Year Survey (Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, 1991) for the exhibition Brown curated and traveled throughout the country. Her essay "Pomegranates, Mirrors & Meaning: Musings on the Spiritual Aspects of the Feminist Movement in Clay" appeared in the catalogue for the 1995 four-site exhibition on the feminist movement in clay. Brown co-authored -- with critic Arlene Raven and photographer Kenna Love -- Exposures, Women & Their Art (Pasadena, NewSage Press, 1989). In the mid 1990s, she began to investigate community building as an art form. Her edited anthology Expanding Circles: Women, Art & Community, published in Spring 1996, developed out of her 1992 CSUN exhibition, "Communitas: The Feminist Art of Community Building.î She also delivered a paper on community building at the 2002 CAA meetings. Her Gradivaís Mirror: Reflections on Women, Surrealism & Art History, a series of essays on Surrealist artists Claude Cahun, Leonora Carrington, Gala Dali, Valentine Hugo, Maria Izquierdo, Frida Kahlo, Jacqueline Lamba, Simone Mareuil, Lee Miller, Alice Rahon, and Remedios Varo, was published by Midmarch Arts Press in 2002. Gradivaís Mirror won the 2003 Cal State Northridge Award for Outstanding Scholarly Publication. Brown is currently working on a textbook entitled Art & Mass Media (Kendall Hunt Publishers).
Brown has been active in women's art organizations. She was president of the board of the Los Angeles Woman's Building in 1985-86 and in 1995-96 was president of the Southern California Women's Caucus for Art. She organized "Beyond the Backlash: Feminisms for the 1990s," the SCWCA conference held in June 1996 at the Armand Hammer (on the occasion of Judy Chicagoís "Dinner Party" being exhibited there) and was program chair for the national WCA meetings, Los Angeles in both 1985 and1999. In addition, Brown volunteered time as a docent for the Venice Art Walk for over ten years.