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Owen Brown

Minneapolis, MN

"Only art can make articulate yearning."
I received my artistic training at Yale College and at California College of Art. My works have been collected in the US and abroad, I have pieces at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and at the Weisman Museum of Minneapolis. I have also done installations (one, covering a quarter section, is owned by the Land Institute in Salina, KS) and collaborate with artists of other practices, such as the choreographer Anat Shinar.

I was taught in the figurative tradition, but I also work rather abstractly, and I don’t always have a theme that I want to put forth. I don’t know how I will finish when I start, except that there is something within that I want to express, something that I want to build, something that I want to say. Painting is not the same as speech, even when it is depicting a scene. We leap to story, but it is the story behind the story, behind speech, that is my subject matter.

My work is about longing, time, emotion, loss and recovery. I keep these in mind:

From the contemporary American poet Mary Oliver:

“Attention is the beginning of devotion.”

And from the German romantic poet Holderlin:

“Where danger lies, there deliverance also grows.”

These help me understand the process a bit better, where the painting begins to reveal itself. I was trained to paint every day, and I do so, although much of creation lies in wait for the artist. Conversely, the artist himself must wait for something to happen. Stillness is as important as action.

On my good days I am a painter. On my best moments, I am someone who is trying to uncover and describe something new, so that we can have it within our range of humanity. That should be enough.
Wescover creator since 2020

More About This Creator

Q&A

How do your pieces come to life? Tell us one interesting thing about your creative process?

"The most interesting part about my painting life (and I paint every day) is at the end of it, usually. I wash out my brushes, return from sink to studio, take a final look, and if I'm lucky, see the solution to the problem that has bedeviled me all afternoon! Or at least an answer to it. So I have something to return to the next day.

The next most interesting thing is my impatience. You have to show up, even if you have nothing to say. If you're stuck, read a poem, or go for a walk, or work on something peripheral. Sit down and stare at what you're trying to do. The Owen of yesterday was a genius/the Owen of yesterday was an idiot! Trust nothing and everything, but in the end, paint, paint, paint."
Owen BrownOwen Brown
Q&A

What do you want people to do or feel when they encounter your creations?

"Here lies my heart. Here is something that wants to talk to me, and I want to talk back to this piece, this experience. It comforts me, or not, but I am moved, from before to after."
Owen BrownOwen Brown
Q&A

What funny moments, unexpected surprises, or obstacles have you encountered?

"I generally avoid portraiture. But I am willing to paint dogs and cats, as they don't make a fuss if I give them a human's teeth, or human ears. I did a painting a few years ago of a collector's two dogs which I thought was pretty trick. She agreed, but would only accept it under one condition: the dogs had to approve!

So I brought the painting in. What would they do?

"Put it down here," she said. I did. She called the dogs into the room. They were well trained dogs, and came to heel.

"Take a look at this painting, boys," she said. "What do you think?" She pointed at the painting.

The dogs went over to the painting, circled it solemnly, came back to her, and wagged their tails.

"OK," she said, "Great! No need for changes! The boys like it!"

Well. I was happy they approved it. I didn't want to ask her where she was going to hang it. I got ready to leave. One of the dogs came over, and sniffed my hand. I patted his head, and his tail began to wag, again.

"And he likes you, too!" My client said."
Owen BrownOwen Brown

Where can you find Owen Brown's Items?

Website