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 Emily Brown  (1943 - )

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Lived/Active: Maine/Pennsylvania      Known for: nature painting, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Billy Mitchell, Appleton, Maine
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Aucocisco Galleries:
Born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania in 1943, Emily Brown studied at Middlebury College, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, receiving her BFA from the University of Pennsylvania. Several who taught her were Neil Welliver and Rudy Burckhardt, both lasting influences in her life. Friendships with them led quickly to summering in rural Maine, where she and her husband have kept a farmhouse since 1972. There she has painted and drawn from the landscape to the present day.

Early influences in her work include Pieter Breughel the Elder, Corot, Constable and Martin Johnson Heade. Fairfield Porter and Rackstraw Downes, both of whom painted in Maine into the mid-1970’s, are also important to her. For thirty years Brown painted en plein aire small landscapes, done mainly in Waldo County, Maine during summers.

Brown holds a sense that the natural world is sacred, to be respected and enjoyed as the ultimate center of all material and spiritual life. Her early painting necessitated her standing in specific places outside for hours each day, observing and articulating the environment. In Maine the setting has a deep agricultural past, and Brown painted many moments in the closing years of a pre-industrial way of life.

She has painted in Philadelphia in the winter as well - in streets, from high windows of abandoned buildings, or in parks. Aging structures and cars, foliage and pedestrians caught her attention. It was here that her work first attracted attention. A founding member of the cooperative Third Street Gallery in 1978, she had her first solo show at Eric Makler Gallery in 1979. In 1982, following an artist’s residency in Walpack, NJ she had a solo exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art’s Morris Gallery.

David Findlay Jr Gallery, New York represented her for several years. In 1986 she was given the inaugural exhibition at Schmidt Bingham Gallery, NY.

Theodore F. Wolff, then writing for the Christian Science Monitor, stated, “…Brown approaches her subjects with respect and tact, with a sense of adventure, but never with a predetermined compositional scheme. She is there to enter into a dialogue with nature, not to try to bend it to her will nor to transform it to something purely formal. In the process, she intensifies her sensitivity to every aspect of the landscape confronting her, distills from it and uses only what is essential…she is open to the unexpected….it is tempting to describe her as a primitive in the best and simplest sense of the word….”

This essentially open sensibility continues in Brown’s work today. And yet she has come to realize that her inclusive tendencies lead her to find complexity in any subject. Much as she loves the local landscapes, she felt constrained. A lifelong (and intermittently lapsed) Quaker, she admires the embracing structure and apparent simplicity of much of Asian art. Some changes were in order.

Her work saw distinct shifts in the late 1990’s when she first had a studio and could experiment with new formats, materials, subjects and scale. Her interest has moved from specific locations to more universally known natural situations, as she strives toward conveying visual and emotional experience to a broad audience. She is now best known for Sumi ink wash drawings based upon natural surfaces, textures and other details of what she finds outdoors. Some of the latest pieces, relatively simple in subject, have a metaphorical quality. Tone and texture are dominant elements.

In addition she has been working with master printmakers on lithographs, etchings, and digital prints. A suite of prints based upon Quaker testimonies is nearing completion in autumn 2008.

She has had at least twenty-five solo shows in New England, New York and Pennsylvania. Awards have included fellowships by the Pew Foundation, the Leeway Foundation, the Independence Foundation, the MacDowell Colony and the Vermont Studio Center. In 2006 she received a Purchase Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her work has been acquired by such institutions as the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Princeton University Art Museum; the Rutgers Center for Innovative Prints and Paper; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; The Free Library of Philadelphia; Alliance Bernstein, Tokyo; and the U.S. Embassy, Kajakhstan.

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