Little is known about Barton, who appears to have been an influential figure among a small coterie of Beat artists in San Francisco in the 1950s and 60s. Raised in New York City, he received some formal art training and was a voracious autodidact. Influenced by Chinese line painting and scrolls, which he encountered on a visit to China in the 1940s, he worked primarily in ink. He preferred to draw in coffee shops in the North Beach neighborhood, which was a locus of Beat activity in San Francisco. Sometimes using a yatate, an antique Japanese implement incorporating a portable inkpot and a small brush, he filled sheets and accordion-fold sketchbooks with figures and interiors that vibrate with nervous energy. He produced La Reina de Mexico on one of several trips to Mexico. It shows a crowd within the nave of what is almost certainly the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
La Reina de Mexico
Pen and ink
13 3/8 x 10 inches (34 x 25.4 cm)
Gift of William and Norma Anthony.
Recto: written in pencil, lower right, "La Reina de Mexico" / written in reverse, "Rick Barton 9.4.60"
William and Norma Anthony.