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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Brown’s art ‘climbing ladders’

    Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Wrenched is one of David F. Browns paintings currently on exhibition in the Temple Gallery with many more if his paintings and drawings.
    Lisa Beth Earle
    Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat “Wrenched” is one of David F. Brown’s paintings currently on exhibition in the Temple Gallery with many more if his paintings and drawings.

    You’re on a date and had the brilliant idea to go to an art gallery. It’s hard enough trying to formulate some semblance of an intelligent opinion on modern artwork. A red dot on a huge blank canvas — what are you supposed to do with that? Thankfully, not all contemporary artists are quite so esoteric.

    Enter David F. Brown. He’s a well-known and respected local artist who earned his master’s of fine arts at the UA. He described the creative process in an e-mail as a “”contradictory experience of being aware and engaged, fully in my body, yet my focus is so encompassing that thought and action merge, and I am completely elsewhere.””

    This dedication and energy is clearly visible in his work. Imagine an extremely talented painter merged with a middle school arts class: While the sketches show a mastery of form, the often cartoonish images with urgent brushstrokes are powerfully emotional. There exists a layering effect that causes parts of the painting to seem translucent, urging you to look at and through the pieces to discover a deeper meaning.

    The paintings range from a chair with a tornado erupting out of the seat to a cup with a tree bursting forth. Hannah Glasston, who has been with the Etherton Gallery for seven years, says she senses a “”certain amount of tension between what is hopeful and what is a little bit fearful in the world.”” Toeing the line between reality and abstraction, Brown frequently utilizes joyful colors to depict somber topics.

    Initially the paintings are visually striking simply due to the conflagration of bright shades, but themes slowly unfurl with continued analysis. For instance, one piece titled “”Wrenched”” is an oil on canvas painting of a lime green car with a bright blue wrench just out of reach of an outstretched arm. Running along the bottom and barely visible is the phrase “”this is the worst painted car ever seen.”” This tongue-in-cheek wit is apparent in a few works, juxtaposed nicely against some of the sketches that invoke a sense of loneliness.

    Throughout a decent portion of his work, there is a running motif of ladders and chairs. According to the artist, these recurring subjects stem from an early memory of his two-year-old self climbing a tall ladder. While his grandmother worried and his father grabbed a camera, he admired the new perspective and liked what he saw. The chairs and ladders become surrogates for the human form and often represent the actions of striving and deciding. “”I’m still climbing ladders … literally, figuratively, metaphorically. But aren’t we all?”” asks Brown.

    What’s his advice for us? “”Discover how to not just look at things,”” says Brown, “”but to really SEE them.””

    The Temple Gallery hosts around six shows each year, coinciding with every new play at the Arizona Theatre Company. Brown’s current work corresponds with Tennessee Williams’ “”The Glass Menagerie.”” Brown’s series will run until March 30, so come in and do more than look while the show lasts.

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