Joan attended a Maryland Institute program for children at the age of 7, studying under Perna Krick (who later became Reuben Kramer’s wife). Joan loved circus animals, and one of her paintings of elephants was published in The Baltimore Sun a year later. Helen Journeay sculpted the portrait of “Joan” at about ten years old, which now resides in the Maryland Historical Society. Ms. Erbe got involved with many older artists which further inspired her to pursue art. During her late teens, she spent summers with her aunt and uncle in upstate NY, where they hosted a variety of artists and actors, many from the Art Students League, and she eventually studied under painter Louis Bouche. The rest of the year she studied under Ann Didusch Schuler, and visiting artist Jacques Maroger. She gradually leaned towards expressionistic work.
Joan married George Udel in 1954. (He was a founder of the Baltimore Film Forum; Raoul Middleman memorialized him in a painting which hangs in the lobby of the Charles Theatre.) Joan had another child, Jacob, and showed her work in movie theatres and in group shows, until she had her first solo exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1966, with many more shows to come at the IFA Gallery in D.C., many notable universities, the Corcoran Gallery, the Library of Congress, and numerous galleries across the nation. She received many honors, awards and prizes along the way. Joan had always painted in oils, but made the transition to acrylics in the 1980’s, and developed a new vibrant color palette for yet another generation of collectors to fall in love with. Since the 1990’s she was represented locally by Gomez Gallery, the Heineman Myers Gallery in Bethesda, and currently at Fleckenstein Gallery.