Artist's Biography

Artist's Biography

Artist Biography

As a child I had two jokes from Mad Magazine on my wall that both confused and entertained me: "All that glitters is not gold, said the camel urinating in the moonlight" and "Rome wasn't built in a day, it just looks that way." They are both visual puns that question the literal.

Early on I was fascinated with classical history painting first encountered at the Huntington Library in Southern California. I spent days in the manuscript collection with its Gutenberg Bible and Books of Hours. I was curious about the Madonna and her nude baby and perplexed by the audacity of Mrs. Siddons posing as the muse. My father took me on painting excursions and introduced me to the American regionalists Reginald Marsh, Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton whose narratives were more useful to me. Though I was embarrassed by their authenticity and bare-faced sincerity as a child, I now strive for those elements in my painting. At my opening at P.S. 1 in 1978 Joyce Kozloff commented, "god, Lulu, your work is so American."

In 1962, my second year at La Verne College, I bought a motor scooter to commute to Scripps College for Life Drawing classes. The Dean of Women and the Faculty reprimanded me with complaints that the nude drawings on my dorm walls were indecent and that I was contaminating La Verne with liberal politics. This incident sealed my fate as an artist.

In 1965 I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and found a creatively eclectic environment at California College of Arts and Crafts where I received a BFA and MFA in painting. Outsider art, narrative painting and underground comics were taken seriously and reinforced my early direction as did Peter Saul and H.C. Westerman. Rebelling against the remnants of the AE movement, my friends and I hid out in the Oakland Cemetery and invented intricate narratives we called 'Bad Art'. Through distortion I found I could describe the flavor and personality of my subjects, not merely their physical identities. The clincher was the discovery that I could combine 'real' space along with caricature to create edgy juxtapositions. During art school I worked in the Rare Book Room at UC, Berkeley where I spent lunch hours in the vault pouring over illuminated manuscripts, incunabulae, Chinese erotica and the private journals of Robert Duncan.

Through involvement in the emerging Women's Artist movement my paintings explored modern-day romance, gender issues and sexual politics in the art world. In 1981 I developed a character who inhabits my paintings as the 'Archetypal Artist', my alter ego. She is the equivalent to Alfred Jarry's Pere Ubu and the narrator in paintings focusing on the artist's predicament. Wearing red and white striped shirt and green Capri pants, she has metamorphosed into Athena, wounded Chiron, played to Pygmalion, and accompanied the Three Fates. In a recent painting, titled The Anatomy Lesson, she teaches anatomy while dancing with a flayed 'speci-man' as a skeleton approaches to cut-in. 

In 1994 I led my first semi-annual 'Art Lover's Tour' to Italy. I began a series of travel journals which form the basis of my painting research back home. I have recently begun exhibiting the journals along with my paintings.