Meet Kyle Brown Jr

Meet Kyle Brown Jr

Recent Press...

Kyle, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today I’m sure there have been days where the challenges of being an artist or creative force you to think about what it would be like to just have a regular job. When’s the last time you felt that way? Did you have any insights from the experience?
I worked a few corporate jobs for homebuilders over the past 20 years. Looking back, it was always going to be a problem. Once, during a long 3-hour conference call (before Zoom became a thing), we were all taking a coffee break. I was in a room that faced an outdoor birdfeeder. As a beautiful woodpecker flew up and landed in front of me, I mentioned it on the call. I was reprimanded after the call by my boss. It didn't even matter that we were on a break, it just wasn't part of the corporate culture, apparently, to love woodpeckers. Or maybe I wasn't part of the corporate culture. Either way, I have dozens of these moments that I think back on and recall, ultimately confirming that I am in the right place presently. I'm happiest when I am creating, exploring, thinking in a new way.

Kyle, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I took a silkscreen printmaking class back in 2018 and fell in love with it. I enjoyed printmaking for its physicality (my core was sore in the morning), the aroma of the ink, the thick cotton paper, the high contrast, the minimalism. I went ahead and took up art full-time, and began selling in the Charleston City Market. I created and sold art for a couple of years this way until the COVID pandemic interrupted it all. When I couldn't access the printmaking equipment or sell in the market, I began to make watercolor paintings and pastel drawings at home, which sent me into new directions creatively. At the moment, I go back and forth between printmaking and pastel drawings. Both mediums use the same cotton paper.

My idea is to create contemporary art with Southern subjects, such as oysters, berries, muscadines, canoes, as well as some celestial subjects. Ultimately, nature is the inspiration, but I seek to give it all a new look through my art, with the goal of minimalism, a new way to look at the world. I create art as a response to my life experience, all of life's difficulties and pain. It's such a pleasure to create art that I enjoy looking at in my home, picking just the right frame, and then I hang it in the hall leading to my kitchen where I can see it over and over. I miss the art when I sell it.

I'm most proud of my art when I have to stretch to find original ideas, ideas such as "Oyster Moon", a series I made pairing the image of an oyster over the moon. I feel like this pairing has been waiting for millions of years, with the moon and an oyster shell having a similar bleached white color and rough texture. I have been making oyster art for the past two years now, lately in pastel drawings, at least partially inspired by the work of Georgia O'Keefe.

And I enjoy the narrative art that I have created, such as "Once, in Alabama", where I tell a story written in pencil around a canoe drawing, a story about how I nearly killed a man when I was just 12 years old. It's been meaningful to think back over my life and find a new medium like this to share it with the world.

But lately, it's been all about the blueberries. I find them to have a certain whimsy, an homage to Andy Warhol. I'm loving the high contrast, the exciting up-close detail of the large berries. It's a new look at a type of blossom, a blueberry blossom. The public has responded with the same enthusiasm. My neighbor calls it my antioxidant series - I simply love that.

Alright – so here’s a fun one. What do you think about NFTs?
Art is what we dig for to find our evidence of humanity in lost civilizations. Yes, the Mayans created jade statues of jaguars. Yes, the Greeks delicately painted pottery which detailed the epic struggles of the gods and the heroes of the day. And what is our contribution as a modern society? We can do better than the NFT. In a world of ever-increasing digital engagement and intrusion, I endorse the idea of returning to something slower, less trendy, less flashy.

Learning and unlearning are both critical parts of growth – can you share a story of a time when you had to unlearn a lesson?
I remember that in my first few years of making art, I had to remember that it's not my job to respond to the market's demands the same way that an entrepreneur would do. An artist needs to put on blinders to the market and market forces. That's not to say that an artist doesn't want to sell their art. But the market cannot drive the artists work, or the art will become diluted. The irony is that artists make their best work when making it for themselves. Think of a musical artist who is writing a love song. That love song should not be written with the global audience in mind, only the audience of the one person that it's being written for. Then it's a pure love song. The same is true of visual art.

There's a great quote from Georgia O'Keefe that summarizes the subject well: "Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing--and keeping the unknown always beyond you."
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