Looking For A Family

Looking for Family is a multimedia exhibition that emanates from the notion of mentorship, from the strong influence that Smoky Brown had on the life of Richard “Duarte” Brown, to the continuation of Duarte Brown’s mentoring activity in the present, which includes working with faculty and students from three Ohio schools: Berne Union High School in Sugar Grove, Benjamin Logan High School in Bellefontaine, and Whitehall-Yearling High School, in Whitehall, as well as with student artists involved in TRANSIT ARTS, in Columbus. Visit Beeler Gallery to see work from all three—Smoky Brown, Duarte Brown, and the high school students.

About the Smoky Brown Collection
Smoky Brown was born in 1919 in Dayton, Ohio. The young man then known as Russell Purce, Jr. apprenticed with his grandfather, who was an ornamental plasterer and later worked as a stone carver, muralist, sign painter, and cartoonist. Brown also worked on the carnival circuit, an experience that would influence his art in future years. In 1978, after retiring from General Motors, Smoky Brown became a full-time artist. A friend of older artists like Elijah Pierce and William Hawkins, Smoky Brown especially befriended youngsters just beginning their craft. Duarte Brown was one of his young artist followers after meeting at ACE Gallery in the Short North over 30 years ago. In 2019, Duarte Brown inherited the Smoky Brown Collection following the elder Brown’s death.

Duarte Brown’s “Eastside Canon” teaches new generations about elders’ influence; he refers to this Legacy as “Smoky and Friends.” Smoky Brown’s art was included in the exhibition Raw Spirit at Northern Kentucky University and in People, Places and Things: An African-American Perspective, at the Columbus Museum of Art. Smoky Brown also has work included in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Watch this video from the Columbus Dispatch Magazines for more on Smoky Brown and his creative legacy.

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