A painter and printmaker, Gordon Cook became active in the Bay Area California art scene from the time he was married to abstract painter Joan Brown in the 1970s.  In fact, Brown painted a portrait of the two of them posed with their dog in the formal garden of the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House.

His early paintings were small in size, muted in color, and usually depicted single still-life subjects such as a box, a single flower or a wheel. These works were both very defined and quite expressive with impasto paint application. 

Before then, his reputation was for printmaking, and after the 1970s, his focus turned to landscape painting, especially solitary buildings in the delta area of the Sacramento River.  Cook has also painted floral still lifes, nudes, portraits and cityscapes.

Cook was born in Chicago and attended Illinois Wesleyan University, earning a B.F.A. in 1950;  He also attended the State University of Iowa in Iowa City.

His work is in the collection of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.

Source:  ASKART

GORDON COOK (1927-1985)

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Self Portrait, 1971, lithograph, 23 x 15”


1927        Born October 3 in Chicago to Walter Raleigh Cook and Etta Stevens Cook.

1945        Attends Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, and graduates with B.F.A. in 1950.

1948-49   Fall and spring semesters, studies Fundamentals and Life Drawing at The American Academy of Art, Chicago.

1949        Studies printmaking with Vera Berdich at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Marries Marilyn Wilson.

1950-51   Takes graduate courses and studies printmaking under Mauricio Lasansky at the State University of Iowa, Iowa City.

1951        Moves to San Francisco.

1952-58   Works to receive journeyman’s card in International typographical Union, Local 21.

1952        December, Paul Wilson Cook born.

1953        Exhibits prints, drawings, and paintings at Porpoise Gallery, San Francisco.

1955        January, Matthew Scott Cook born. Illustrates Henry Miller’s The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder

               (San Francisco: The Greenwood Press, 1955).

               Becomes charter member of Bay Printmakers Society and exhibits in their annual exhibitions held at the

               Oakland Art Museum (1955-1960).

1956-63   Exhibits in San Francisco Art Association’s annual drawing and print exhibitions.

1959-62   Participates in first weekly drawing group with Alvin Light, Manuel Neri, Joan Brown, and William H. Brown.

1960        Joins the Dolphin Swim and Boating Club, San Francisco.

1962-69   Teaches printmaking and drawing at San Francisco Art Institute.

1964        Exhibits etchings in one-man exhibition at Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, San Francisco.

1968        Resumes painting.

1969        October, marries painter Joan Brown. Moves to Rio Vista, California, and participates in second drawing group

               with Manuel Neri, Joan Brown, and Robert Arneson.

1970        Exhibits paintings at Bolles Gallery and Lawson Galleries, San Francisco.

1970-71   Teaches printmaking at Sacramento State College (now California State University)

1971-73   Returns to San Francisco and teaches printmaking at Academy of Art College.

1972-74   Participates in third weekly drawing group with Joan Brown, Elmer Bischoff, and George Lloyd.

1973-85   Exhibits with Charles Campbell Gallery, San Francisco.

1974        Discontinues printmaking.

1974-75   Teaches at San Francisco State College (now California State University) and University of California, Davis.

1976-84   Organizes fourth weekly drawing group with Mark Adams, Beth Van Hoesen, and Wayne Thiebaud

               (later joined by Theophilus Brown).

1977        September, marries Liadian O’Donovan, literary editor and mother of six-year-old Michael O’Donovan Stewart.

1978        October, Kate O’Donovan Cook born.

1978-80   Works a driver and dispatcher for United Courier, Inc.; spends only limited hours on his artwork.

1979        Moves to Union Street address, San Francisco, from where he begins painting and drawing the

               Point Richmond gas tower.

      Visiting lecturer at University of California, Davis.

1980-81   Private support group enables Cook to work solely on his artwork.

1982        Exhibits at Allan Stone Gallery, New York, with Wayne Thiebaud and David Beck.

1983        Teaches at Mills College and California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland.

      Suffers first heart attack.

1983-85   Resumes printmaking. Works on several print projects with Limestone Press (Hank Hine), “made in California”

               (David Kelso), Teaberry Press (Tim Berry), and Scott Green.

1984        Begins series of stick figure sculptures that soon appear in his paintings, drawings, and prints.

1984-85   Paints and prints series of Amish dolls.

1985        Begins bronze sculpture project of stick figures with “made in California.”

      Dies on August 5 in San Francisco.

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