Artist Jay DeFeo lived most of her adult life in the Bay Area, working as an artist in the Upper Fillmore in the 1950s and 60s, and ultimately ending up on the faculty at Mills College in the 70s and 80s before her death in 1989. She's an under-appreciated figure in American art whose most famous work, the 2,300-pound layered painting The Rose, was exhibited for only the second time in 1995 in an exhibition about the Beat Era in New York. Now, she is finally getting her due with a full-scale retrospective at SFMOMA that's open through February 3.
The exhibition is being sponsored by the Whitney Museum in New York, where it will move in February, and as Leah Levy, a co-trustee of The Jay DeFeo Trust, earlier told SF Weekly, this is truly the first opportunity the public has ever had to appreciate DeFeo's work. "I can name two people who have previously seen every work in the retrospective."
Above is a video about the rediscovery of the painting, and the conservation that was necessary in 1995 to remount the enormous thing on a new steel frame. In the midst of working on The Rose which she labored over for seven years in total, and it's eight inches thick in some spots DeFeo was evicted from her studio at 2322 Fillmore Street and she was forced to move it to Pasadena where it was ultimately shown for the first time in 1969.
Below, another video SFMOMA has posted, showing a collage of images of DeFeo and her husband Wally Hendrick and a voice-over by DeFeo talking about the Christmas parties and social scene that revolved around their Fillmore Street apartment in the 1950s.