Art Review: An artistic gift for the community

"The Artwork of Robert Brown: A Retrospective Exhibition of a Life's Work," is presented at the Brand Library Galleries after the fashion of a museum shop.

The purpose of the exhibition is to raise funds to support free arts and cultural events programs at the Brand and to share Brown's art with the community.

A prolific and master printmaker, Brown's limited-edition serigraphs are pinned to gallery walls and stacked on tables staged throughout the main room. One end of the gallery is lit up with Brown's glassworks — sculptures, panes, etched panels and plates capture and refract light from gallery windows. The casual presentation was chosen in order to minimize the cost of the exhibition and reinforce the goal of "fundraising."

Like Vincent Van Gogh, Brown had a desire to share his passion for art with people of all economic stations and to serve as inspiration for art enthusiasts, both collectors and creators. All of Brown's works are for sale, priced well below market rate, to disseminate the work throughout the community, and to support the place in which he exhibited often and loved dearly.

Brown (1917-2009) was a lifelong Glendale resident and career artist. He served his community as a professor of fine arts at Glendale Community College from 1948-'83, during which time he produced a multitude of art pieces, crossing back and forth through styles and media — watercolor, photo transfer, drawing, collage, mixed media, ceramics and glass.

His thought-provoking themes included human sexuality, his relationship with the natural world, and socio-political ideals. His art is figurative abstract and pop. He was a member of the Western Serigraph Institute, an honorary artist of the Pasadena Society of Artists and president of Los Angeles Printmaking Society Foundation.

Brown received the Brand Associates Purchase Award for his pieces titled "Suburb" and "Opposite But Equal," which are now part of the Brand's permanent collection. After his retirement from Glendale Community College, he put much of his effort into glass art. He is well known for windows commissioned by Unitarian Universalist Church of Verdugo Hills, First Methodist Church of Glendale and Temple Adat Ari El in Valley Village. He was a consummate and talented visual artist.

Robert Brown's daughter, Jan Reilly, donated the works displayed, which were gathered from the artist's studio. Reilly suggests that her father's favorite medium was glass. The exhibition includes several untitled glass sculptures. Three of them have significant architectural qualities. Curved glass, cut bottles, glasses and flutes are fused in layers, resulting in futuristic designs that would inspire Buckminster Fuller. Dozens of glass panels etched with Matisse-like figures are propped in crates. Black-based sculptures with airfoils, wedges, pyramids and faceted forms are simple, beautiful and fascinating to study.

Brown is best known for his graphic arts, serigraphy and printmaking. After a design is confirmed, a serigraph is created by pushing paint through a silk screen, one color at a time. After each color the screen is cleaned and reused. The process is cumbersome and expensive. Only a limited number of prints are made per design because of the complexity of the process. The volume of printmaking by Brown is substantial. It is a rare opportunity to participate in the ownership and study of printmaking of this quality, museum quality.

The Brand Associates are offering a gift of art, a selection from the volume of Brown's studies and gesture drawings, the thoughts on paper that led to his production of prints, in ink, pencil, watercolor and pastel, to those who join the Brand Library and Art Center Associates during the exhibition. The entry table is a mountain of incredible artistic experiments, which provide insight into the method, genius and prolificacy of Robert Brown.

TERRI MARTIN has a degree in art history and an extensive background in fine arts.

INFOBOX

What: "The Artwork of Robert Brown: A Retrospective Exhibition of a Life's Work"

When: Noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday until July 9.

Where: Brand Library Art Galleries, 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale

Admission: Free

Contact: (818) 548-2051, or visit http://www.BrandLibrary.org

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