Larrie Brown's affair of the art

Observer writer

Sunday, February 11, 2018

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THE American dream has been unfulfilling for Jamaican-born artist Larrie Brown.

Prior to migrating in 1989, the 57-year-old had an illustrious career as one of the island's outstanding young artists during the 1970s and 1980s.

Despite being a member of the Nashville Artist Guild in his adopted hometown, he admits that he is battling with a high level of prejudice in the industry. Brown is, however, hoping to reintroduce himself and his craft to his homeland.

“There is a lot of favouritism and bias here in the United States; I see a lot of it in Nashville. I want to get to a market where it is not as bad. Here, when they see the artist they won't buy the painting, even when it is the best of show. It's more than the colour of your skin or racism, it's also a money thing here. For them to invest in you, you can't put your name on the pieces. The plan is to have an exhibition in Jamaica, which I am working on right now. The reintroduction is to allow folks who have lost contact with me and miss my work, to be able to reach me,” Brown told the Jamaica Observer.

While he does not have a set date for the occasion, Brown is hoping his pieces will be well-received by Jamaicans. Over the past 10 years, he has managed to acquire his studio where he works in the days, as he is a nurse at nights.

The Portland native said he discovered his passion for art at five.

“Before I learnt to read and write, I knew how to draw. I didn't start going to school until I was about eight, so I was always drawing objects around the yard. A neighbour saw one of my drawings and raved over it, that's when I first thought that I could actually do something with it,” he said.

Brown would later attend the Buff Bay High School, where he was asked to teach art after graduating at 17. During his year-long tenure of teaching, he entered the Jamaica All Island Art Competition at Ward Theatre in Kingston and won, gifting him a scholarship to Jamaica School of Art and Crafts (now the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts).

He went on to work with the National Gallery of Jamaica where he was commissioned by the government to draw portraits of prestigious local figures. He also worked briefly as a forensic artist with the Jamaica Constabulary Force. His speciality lies in traditional and modern art forms, including landscapes, portraits, figurative drawings and seascape.

“It is just passion for me; if I paint something and I can't look at it and want to keep it, why should anyone else want to? I am not a one-dimensional artist, I love challenges and doing things that are intricate. Right now I am focused on creating pieces for the exhibition I want to have. Jamaicans appreciate the arts, and I just want to create work that people will enjoy,” Brown said.




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