Joann Gedney, American Abstract Expressionist, passed away this morning at her home and studio on East 12th street. She was 88 years old. In 1947, after graduating from Wheaton College, Joann moved to NYC to become an artist. Her first studio was on 8th street, below Milton Resnick’s who introduced her to all his friends including Hans Hoffman and Franz Klein, her first true love. During the day she worked in the laboratory at Sloan Kettering to pay her way and each and every night from 5-10pm, Joann painted religiously, after which she walked over to the infamous Cedar Tavern on University Place to drink with her art world pals, de Kooning & Pollock to name but two, and to share and revel in creative comaraderie. One night, on a date with a young fellow and wearing a girlfriend’s blouse for the special occassion ‘Pollock came over to our table, ignored the boy I was with, put his hands down my blouse and ripped it open. He was like that.’ In 1957 Ms. Gedney, who never married, helped found the co-operative, artist-run, March Gallery on Tenth Street where Patricia Passlof, Elaine de Kooning, Mark Di Suvero, Felix Pasilis and many others were members. Dues were $2.50 a month. By the early 1960’s the gallery closed, many of her friends began moving out of the city or died and Abstract Expressionism was no longer in the spot light. But Joann kept painting, never stopped, and let time outside her studio go about it’s way as she arduously and obstinately stuck to her beloved, painterly, abstraction. It was a privilege to know her and to photograph her work these last three months and to have shared with her the documentation of it (many of the paintings unseen, untouched, for 50 years or more!) and the promises that it will be cared for, looked after, and a showing of it, planned for the future, will happen. It took a certain woman to tango in the all ‘men’s club’ that was the Abstract Expressionist movement. Joann Gedney was that special kind of woman. Joann Gedney was a damn good painter! My hat is off to you, Ms. Gedney. R.I.P.
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