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"Gary Brown" at GRAAMA

"Gary Brown" by Christopher Chinn

Christopher Chinn’s painting Gary Brown (on view at the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives) is one piece to a larger project. During the summer of 2016 Chris and Gary met at the Lamp Community Art Project to create reciprocal portraits. Chris and Gary first met as artists in the exhibition “Intersections: The Real Faces of the Homeless” in 2012. Since then Gary and Chris have developed a friendship and mutual respect for each other’s artwork. The portraits are the result of their artistic collaboration and personal connection.

 An artist and jazz musician, Gary Brown was born in Louisiana in 1952 and lived there 38 years before moving to Los Angeles. After struggling for a decade on the street, he found a home, a community and his art with the support of the Lamp Community Art Project. Gary is not just a member of his community, for the past ten years he has been a recognized torchbearer for the arts in downtown Los Angeles.

Gary creates work on paper and canvas using graphite, inks, pastel and acrylics. His influences range from the world immediately around him to Egyptian mythology. "Making art is like a mystery", he says. "And I never had much mystery in my life."

Chris has drawn and painted Gary numerous times over the years, but the painting at GRAAMA is by far the most extensive. According to critic Dave Barton, “The brick and mortar behind him gives the feel of a New York hole-in-the-wall, the weighty daubs of paint giving it the texture of a warm embrace.” Gary, in his portrait of Chris, fuses geometric shapes and expressive marks to “dark facial hair and the whites of his eyes edged with blue and yellow chalk giving him a bold serenity worthy of Buddha.”

"Christopher Chinn" by Gary Brown

Chris will donate 20% of the sale of his painting Gary Brown to the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives. The Lamp Community Art Project and Gary will also share in a portion of the profit.

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