Gail Severn Gallery

Squeak Carnwath


Squeak Carnwath has a distinctive and recognizable style which combines diaristic and personal elements with universal or existential themes. Her paintings "combine text and images on abstract fields of color to express sociopolitical and spiritual concerns."[2] She has described herself ironically as a "painting chauvinist" due to an abiding preference for that medium, although she is also an accomplished printmaker and has created sophisticated Jacquard tapestries, artist books, and mixed media works in addition to her oil and alkyd works on canvas.


In an essay for a Flintridge Foundation catalog, Noriko Gamblin describes the evolution of Carnwath's approach to composition and subject matter:


The work for which Carnwath first became widely known in the mid- and late 1980s is characterized by simple, iconic images and words floating like astral bodies within monochromatic or bichromatic fields. The images represent common things—chairs, vessels, bones, feet, genitalia, flowers, birds, houses, and so on—using rudimentary forms and emphatic black outlines. The words or passages of text, rendered in an ingenuous and expressive script, catalogue and comment on various aspects of existence, such as the affinities that unite seemingly unrelated objects and the essential differences (e.g., between that divide them. Simultaneously comic and grave in tenor, these pictures evoke the free-ranging ruminations of a daydreaming mind as it encounters the myriad phenomena of daily life and tries to make sense of them... engaging an ever-evolving constellation of preoccupations and investigations: how we know things, what we know, the nature of memory, perception, passion, time, and death.

Although Carnwath quickly established a distinctive personal style, some aspects of her work have undergone gradual transformations. The strongly geometric structure— characterized by grids, quadrants, and contrasting color bands and fields—of her paintings of the 1980s and early 1990s has loosened into more fluid arrangements of diverse elements, which include structural motifs as well as "decorative" patterns. Similarly, her iconography, which was initially tied to a relatively circumscribed personal symbology, has both expanded and grown more allusive. The early lists, litanies, injunctions, and poetic observations have been joined by more casual notations, which often lend a topical immediacy to her work.[1]



1] a b Gamblin, Noriko. (2001). " Squeak Carnwath," Catalog: Flintridge Foundation Awards for Visual Artists.

2] King, Sarah. (1998). "Squeak Carnwath at David Beitzel," Art in America. Retrieved 2009-04-11.


Selected Public & Private Collections

Awards & Honors

AirTouch Communications Collections, San Francisco, CA

American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY

Anderson Collection at Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AR

BankAmerica Corporation Art Collection, San Francisco, CA

Barkley and Evergreen, Kansas City, MO

Benziger Family Winery, Glen Allen, CA

Berkeley Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley

Bowdoin College Art Museum, Brunswick, ME

Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY

Capital Group, Los Angeles, CA

Chase Manhattan Bank, New York, NY

City and County of San Francisco, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco, CA

The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, HI

First Bank of Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN

Hallmark Collection, Kansas City, MO

Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, HI

Jewish Museum San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY


Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA

M.I.T., List Visual Art Center, Boston, MA

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Richard L. Nelson Gallery and The Fine Arts Collection, University of California, Davis, CA

Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL

Oakland Museum Of California, Oakland, CA

Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA

Persis Corporation, Honolulu, HI

Philip Morris Companies, Inc., New York, NY

Principal Financial Group, Des Moines, IA

Rene and Veronica di Rosa Collection, Napa, CA

Robertson, Stephens & Company, San Francisco, CA

The Rutgers University Fine Arts Collection, Brunswick, NJ

San Francisco Fine Arts Museums, San Francisco, CA

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA

Jordan D. Schnitzer Family Foundation, CA

San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT

2008 Emil and Dines Carlsen Award, 183rd Annual: An Invitational Exhibition of

        Contemporary Art, National Academy Museum, New York, NY

2002-06  University of California, Berkeley, Faculty Research Award

2002  Flintridge Foundation Award for Visual Artists, Pasadena, CA

1998  Modern Master, Museum of Art and the Environment, Marin, CA

1996 Alma B.C. Schapiro Residency for a Woman Painter, Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY

1996  Hometown Heroes, Oakland Artists Who Have Made a Difference,

          Office of the Mayor, Oakland, CA

1994  Guggenheim Fellowship

1992 Rosenkranz Family Fellowship, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Woodside, CA

1990  Alice Baber Art Award

1990  University of California, Davis, Faculty Research Award

1989  University of California, Davis, Faculty Research Award

1987  University of California, Davis, Faculty Research Award

         University of California, Davis, Faculty Summer Fellowship

1986  University of California, Davis, Faculty Research Award

1985  National Endowment for the Arts, Individual Artist Fellowship

1980  University of California, Davis, Faculty Research Award

  National Endowment for the Arts, Individual Artist Fellowship

Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SECA), Award in Art

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