Last week we located this portrait of Jim's friend, Claire Van Vliet. Van Vliet, a master printmaker, founded the renowned Janus Press in 1955. Her work has been recognized with many awards and honors, including her election to the National Academy, two Honorary Doctorates of Fine Arts, and a MacArthur Prize Fellowship in 1989.
Van Vliet was an important figure in Brewton's artistic development, introducing him to Erik Nyholm and Jim McWilliams. When Van Vliet sailed to Denmark in 1962 for an illustration project, Jim and his partner at the time, writer Barbara Holland, decided at the last minute to go along. She had planned a social visit with Erik and Janet Nyholm before beginning her work, and showed up on their doorstep with Jim and Barbara. Jim and Barbara rented a barn in nearby Funder and, during that stay in Denmark, Brewton's work took on the spontaneity and vibrant colors of the CoBrA movement. Many of the CoBrA artists were friends of Erik Nyholm, and the Nyholms' farmhouse was once completely covered with paintings by Asger Jorn, Constant and Corneille--the walls, ceilings, even inside the kitchen cupboards. Jim returned to Denmark in 1965 to visit Nyholm and help with Jorn's Comparative Vandalism project.
In the early 1960s Van Vliet lived in Philadelphia taught at the Philadelphia College of Art (now University of the Arts); she met Jim McWilliams there. McWilliams ran the Print Department, and let Brewton and other artist friends use the equipment after hours. The two Jims, McWilliams and Brewton, lifted many a beer at Dirty Frank's Bar, and were co-organizers of the exhibition that opened a few days after Brewton's death: Society for the Commemoration of Festivals and Fetishes, 15 May-7 June, 1967, Socrates Perakis Gallery, Philadelphia.
At some point while living and teaching in Philadelphia, Van Vliet was out of town for a while and lent Jim the use of her apartment. As a thank-you, Jim painted her portrait, which came to light in a private collection on Feb. 25, 2021. We are delighted to see it and share this image, with the owner's permission.