“A dime and a nickel are sitting on the edge of the Empire State Building.  The nickel falls off.  Why didn’t the dime? Because it had more cents.”  If you were to meet Joyce Warren you would probably be regaled with a joke like this one. She has quite an extensive a repertoire of jokes and stories of her childhood.  She enjoys meeting new people and certainly could not be described as a shrinking violet, and she is never afraid to speak her mind.  Joyce may look like a woman that could make a mean apple strudel but she is more like a lady you might see working the nickel machines at Harrah’s.

Joyce began her artistic career at what is now the Short Center North in the early 80’s. A versatile artist, she has studied ceramics, drawing and painting, and printmaking with many SCN instructors. Joyce transferred to the Short Center South in the late 1990’s and studies with Susannah Kelly and with Pat Wood, working primarily in watercolor. She has an ingrained work ethic and is fastidious with her supplies as well as her art. Joyce is also a self-starter who likes to have her ideas in mind before she begins a painting.

It is Joyce’s sense of color and pattern that gives her work its signature style. Patterns are rampant and the colors are beyond vivid, like Timothy Leary sewing an Amish quilt. Pattern is everywhere and creates everything; the stylized fur on a cat, the striped wings of a butterfly, the checkered design on a woman’s full skirt, and the background of a still-life are all created by repetition of design.  We can see tinges of American and Eastern European folk art traditions in subject matter and pattern and also in the virtual absence of perspective. This is also evident in the stoic stances of her figurative representations. Doll-like frozen babushkas with elaborate hair/hats stare out at us, and we almost expect a smaller one to jump out from underneath their bell jar petticoats (“Woman and Her Dog”).

Joyce’s landscapes are made up of many levels and built up like a slice of layer cake. “Striped House”, “Farm with Fields”, “Landscape with Red and Blue House”, and “House with a Picket Fence” are all excellent examples of her technique of building up design with these striations of vivid color and pattern. Colorful layers of flowers, trees, water, hills, and sky are neatly partitioned into cross sections  – sometimes with fantastic invention  – in one layer which appears to be made of random shapes, we can see she has hidden animal faces into the design. But one the most compelling works of Ms. Warren’s included in this selection is an older pastel entitled “Self-Portrait”; in it we see a self-assured older woman who considers us with an almost jaded eye; properly presented against an infinite background of muted colors.

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