Abe Brown may not have been a career artist, but his family says it was more than a hobby to their late family member. His current exhibition at the Shelter Rock Library is sharing with viewers the ordinary man’s love of art and the pursuit of his passion, hoping to inspire other ordinary people to follow his lead.
“It’s a loving tribute to my father’s love of paintings,” said Jamie Brown, son of the artist and creator of the exhibit.
The Shelter Rock Library in Albertson is hosting an art exhibit of Brooklyn artist Abe Brown from July 8 through Aug. 26.
Abe Brown, a Brooklyn native who lived his whole life in the New York City borough, may have had a profession in retail sales but his true passion was in the arts.
“Many people might have the desire to paint but they don’t go out and buy the materials, and even if they do it doesn’t mean they sit down and do it,” Michelle Brown, the artist’s granddaughter, said. “It made me joyful that he decided to take the time to do this.”
A student at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Abe Brown would recreate the natural beauty of landscapes he encountered during his travels in acrylic paints. Partially blind in one eye, he would usually paint these scenes from memory.
Abe Brown was a family man. Jamie Brown said that growing up he would frequently visit art museums with his father and travel the landscapes he would later paint.
“His paintings will always be a reminder of the joy he brought to us,” his family writes in his biography.
Abe Brown would also photograph the landscapes he came across to use the shots as a reference.
His family said he was always able to transform the natural landscapes “with an artistic sense of balance” through methods such as slightly altering the palette and composition of the landscapes.
Jamie Brown said his altered vision led to his creating a unique interpretation of landscapes in his paintings.
A World War II U.S. Army veteran, Abe Brown had a contract to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He later lost his vision due to complications after being hit by a line drive as a young man.
Abe Brown died in 2009 at the age of 87. Jamie Brown said his father participated in many art exhibits featuring blind artists during his lifetime, including at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but this one is the first solo exhibit since his death.
He said he wished he could have hosted this exhibit while his father was alive as he thinks his father would have appreciated the act.
Jamie Brown said he chose to have the exhibit at the Shelter Rock Library because it is his neighborhood library, which he frequents. He approached the library proposing the idea for the exhibit, which the library agreed to host.
Jamie Brown worked alongside his daughter Michelle Brown to put together the exhibit.
Michelle Brown is carrying on the familial love of art and studied art history. She formerly worked at Sotheby’s in New York, a fine art auction house, and is currently a project manager at a graphic design firm.
Growing up, Michelle Brown was very close to her grandfather and has fond memories of times shared with him. She said while her pursuit of a career in art was not directly influenced by her grandfather, it may have been a subconscious influence due to being in the presence of his strong passion for art.
She said working on this exhibit was the perfect opportunity to combine the personal and professional aspects of her life.
Michelle Brown was able to use those experiences to curate her grandfather’s exhibit, creating general themes for the categories in the show.
She said her favorite section is the winter scenes, which feature a strong purple color palette.
Michelle Brown said she is hoping that her grandfather’s exhibit will bring a smile to people’s faces and inspire other ordinary people in the pursuit of their passions like Abe Brown.
“I think it also makes a more minor statement that we don’t have to take this all so seriously,” Michelle Brown said. “This should be a happy and joyful moment.”
The paintings in the exhibit are for sale, but Jamie Brown said there are no set prices. He said they will consider reasonable prices proposed in order to share the love and appreciation of Abe Brown’s art.
The Library will be hosting an official opening of the exhibit on Saturday from 1:30-3 p.m. that will be accessible to the public.