An interview with R. Brown Lethem...
We are incredibly excited that tomorrow we will be hosting the opening of the "Process" exhibit at the gallery featuring the work of R. Brown Lethem. This Missouri born artist now resides in Maine and his career has spanned decades. He began his studies at Kansas City Art Institute and earned a BFA and MFA at Columbia University. His teaching career began in 1957 and he has held positions at numerous universities including Columbia University, University of Kentucky, Kansas City Art Institute, and the University of Southern Maine.
Over the years he has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including The Fulbright Fellowship in Paris, The Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation Grant and the Breevort-Eickmeyer Scholarship from Columbia University. He has been showing his work in one-person shows for decades all over the country including many in New York City.
We were fortunate enough to present Mr. Lethem with some questions about his upcoming exhibit and he was kind enough to take the time to get back to us with insight about his work and his life which we are so happy to share with you today...
Regarding his use of Brown vs. Richard as his first name...
First off my use of Brown as the preferred first name..It was my grandfather’s given name at birth since he was dark skinned. Something of a legend out in the Divide region of Nebraska. He was one of those pioneer/giants of the earth Willa Cather and Rolvag wrote about, and who appear in many forms in my painting such as “Sampson II” as you come in on the left wall of this show.
Your latest exhibit, opening on April 13th, is entiteld "Process". Your artist statement gives some insight into what process is to you. You talk about your personal progression as a part of process for you. Can you tell us a bit more about your life as an artist? Can you tell us a bit more about some of the paintings that will be on display at the gallery?
My own father started out as a teamster driving a pair of mules on the Nebraska prairie from Alma to the distant railway terminals. I see the layout of this exhibition encapsulating a mini self portrait with work from the early 1990’s thru 2013 with the process drawing of the couple neatly referring to early interest in automatic drawing techniques to access the subconscious and its reference to my long time concern with couple relationships and community in my painting.
Moving down the wall is “Sudden Shadow” a painting redolent of mid-western violent passion and mysteries of the night.
Further on you see the striving figurative images of “Sampson II” attempting to control the earth, draw water from it and produce life.
Further still the obvious self image in the midst of inspiration..”Monkey Painter” speaks to the indulgence of the medium.
Next, “Yoaked” depicts the struggle we all go thru to come to terms with our beasts within, our demons without which we would never know our true identity.
The final large painting on the end wall could be seen as a culmination, a resolution or sorts. “The Ocean of Light” is an attempt to capture the contemplation of Quaker virtues, a meditation of transparency and silence.
Who are some of the more well known collectors of your work?
F Murray Abraham, the creator of Saliari in “Amadeus” and John Cougar Mellencamp, rock star and maybe the Yaddo Foundation in Sarasota, New York.
R. Brown Lethem's opening is tomorrow night at the gallery from 5-7 and we hope you can make it. You can also see his work on display until May 5th. For more information about the artist's work you can visit our website HERE. Additionally, you can find out more on his pieces available for purchase HERE.
Thanks again to Mr. Lethem for his time and this sneak peek into his "Process".