Robert Brown (1917 – 2009), Glendale artist and educator

RBPhoto4SmallerRobert Brown was born in San Francisco in 1917. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from San Francisco State College and Master of Fine Arts degrees from both the University of Southern California and the California College of Arts and Crafts.

Brown was a master printmaker whose area of focus and style changed with the times. Over four decades he produced a remarkably large and eclectic body of work, including abstracts, Op Art, and figurative pieces speaking to the human race’s relationship to the natural world, the socio-political climate of the times, and human sexuality – often with a humorous twist. When one looks at the diversity of the work produced throughout his career, it is hard to fathom that everything was produced by the same hand.

Brown was Professor of Fine Art at Glendale Community College from 1948 to 1983. There he taught life drawing, printmaking, ceramics, and other classes. In addition to his large portfolio of serigraphs, he left us a vast collection of demonstration studies of the human form in charcoal, pen and ink, and collage.

Brown also produced art glass and his importance in this genre is reflected in significant commissions including twenty-one fused glass windows at Temple Adat Ari El in Valley Village and entrance windows in the First United Methodist Church in Glendale. He also created a series of fused glass tiles to be affixed as “safety devices” to sliding glass doors. Some of the remaining tiles that have survived unglued are included in our collection.

One of his most important works, a silkscreen mural Robert Brown titled Harbor Theme, had hung in the Beverly Hilton Hotel in the 1950s. In addition to a scrapbook of photos depicting the creation of the mural, Brown created a limited edition of 50 copies of this work, only one of which was been recovered from his studio. Brown was obviously extremely proud of this mural. It required 149 screens and 25 separate colors to produce. Unfortunately, the mural is no longer present in the Beverly Hilton Hotel and the single remaining proof copy in our possession is missing one panel that depicts a fish on a dish.

Brown was an active member of the Western Serigraph Institute and an Honorary Artist of the Pasadena Society of Artists. He also served as president of the Los Angeles Printmaking Society Foundation. In 2009, toward the end of his life, Brown expressed a desire to share his work with the public via the Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale, a place he loved and had exhibited in often. During the 1970s, both of Brown’s works, Suburb and Opposite but Equal were selected for inclusion in the Brand Associates Purchase Award Collection. Upon his passing, his daughter, Janice Reilly, generously gifted his archives and all the work remaining in his studio to the Brand Associates to exhibit and sell to the public and we are profoundly grateful for her generosity.

Bob Brown passed away in October, 2009. The Associates of Brand Library is honored and thrilled to possess many of his finest works and to be able to share his creative genius with his surviving friends, colleagues, and the public.

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