The Second Impeachment Triptych 52 x 44 x 3. I painted the 1st Impeachment Triptych in December- January ’19-’20, never, ever thinking I would have reason to paint another one. Dark times, indeed, call for dark art.

 

Dear friends,

As usual, behind on this letter – Julie, thanks for reminding me, and your interest!  I would rather be painting than writing, but then, I like to write, and if I’m not sounding off, who will sound for me?

The last five months have seen me busy in the studio, and busy also, alas, with health issues; my own, and members of my family.  I suppose that guides the brush: sorrow often does.  I’ve completed a large diptych for a client in San Diego, I’ve been featured in Wild Roof Journal and F3LL Magazine, exhibited a piece at the Minnesota Institute of Art, another at the airport (which I hope to see, if we can ever travel again) and along with a few other artists, jury-selected to provide a dozen small paintings for a developer in NE Minneapolis.  I choose to do still lifes, which are providing me with relaxation and joy.   Here’s a few.

tulips


California Poppies


Scott’s Daffodils

 

 

Homage to Charles Demuth (pinks)

 

I call the series, (most of which are tiny, at 11 x 11),  “Still Life Finger Exercises,’ a name which might be resonant if any of you, like me, were trained on Hanon and Czerny as a young pianist.  All that time practicing arpeggios when I could have been learning perspective!    Perhaps thanks to a Jewish household that unconsciously disfavored depiction for cultural reasons, I was set to be a musician.  Then I took my very first drawing workshop, at the ripe age of 22.  The scales fell from my eyes (and my fingers) and although I still love to play the piano, it’s a good thing that when I sit down at the instrument, the composer is not in the room.

In truth, the composer should be in all of us.  We should be painting to seek the “candor of stars”, I paint because everything is a little off-kilter, or sometimes more than a little, and I want to explore this, more often, than eat.  I suppose I would paint, or do something, even if I had no chance to show my works to others.  I like to do so, but I have fewer and fewer delusions about a piece’s impression, or importance.  Regardless the initial éclat, everything fades away in time.  Even Michelangelo will be forgotten, obscured through a reversal of discovery.

I also paint because I am disturbed by what’s around us, how we mislive our lives, how we mistreat others.  How can I not try to call attention to society’s radical inequities?  How could I permit myself the luxury of abstraction when we, for example, have multiple mass shootings in this country, every day?  When we are making it a crime to bring a glass of water to a would-be voter, waiting in line?  When we are doing this, doing that?   One must take up a brush against lack of interest, indifference – even if entropy eventually wins.

The Intubated One, from New COVID Series, 52 x 44

Enough with the lecturing.  Many of you support yourselves by selling works of art, I do, too.  My latest collector is 11 years old.  Her mother let me know that Miri followed me on Instagram, and liked the still lifes.

“That’s great!” I said.

“Yes, she loves flowers.”

“Does she get an allowance?”

“Yes.”

“How much is it a week?”

“About two dollars.”

I thought for a moment.  Then I said:

“I think that two weeks of allowance could get her a painting.”

Which she’ll soon have.  (I later added 35 cents for tax, but trusted that her parents might advance her that sum.)

Between then and now, I’ve started reading Rosenberg and Grafton’s Cartographies of Time, A History of the Timeline. This is a remarkable book, for it demonstrates that once we have established a pattern of thought – here that you can represent a “dimensionless dimension” like time, graphically, it’s nearly impossible to go back to an earlier time when you did not have this within scope.  Just as interesting, the fact that such representation did not burst forth immediately into the form we know today but developed slowly through centuries of ever-more complex iterations, aided by innovations in printing technology and philology.  Everything takes longer than we think.  We only see the present with ease, and must work to excavate the past. I strongly recommend it, in particular for the marvelous illustrations.

I would also recommend, and wish I could go to see, Julie Mehretu at the Whitney .  A super strong voice, a woman who discovered her own vocabulary and has continued to expand on it for thirty years.  Of course there are precedents –  Kandinsky, Twombly,  Roberto Matta, but few do not sup at the table of ancestors, before setting out to do their own cooking.  I’d also like to see Ilse D’Hollander, at Sean Kelly, a painter whose paintings, color field or not, I have long admired (John Yau has an excellent article on the show here)  and finally, on the other side of the continent, BG Gallery in Santa Monica has a remarkable show of grayscale works – Grayscale Wonderland.  Fun!  Soon enough, we’ll be able to visit in person.

A final note:  I have finally succeeded in remodeling this website. The works are still the same, but the navigation is easier, as is the search mechanisms.  Take a look, let me know what you think.

I relaxed with painting a little Abstract – “Red, White and Blue,” in honor and hope, worked through the week of January 20th.

 

You know where to find me, and I hope you will,

Owen

PS Questions?  Comments?  Exhibit opportunities, people I should know, or other thoughts?  You know where to find me:  owenbrownartist@gmail.com.  Don’t be a stranger – we’re too isolated as it is!

PS This letter’s last painting shows Prince Charles learning of Diana’s Infidelity, from my “As Seen on TV” series, 36 x 36. Alas for the titled lives of England!

Menu