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Wandering

May 30th, 2015

Wandering

hello everyone,

many of my friends and acquaintances all sent me the same call for artists to display during an exhibit at the pendulum gallery in vancouver. i am grateful for this attention. it is so nice to be thought of, in this way. i've resisted this exhibit because i don't feel I'm quite yet "professional". also, i'm not yet "finished" my grief for rumbles my precious cat friend. even though it is two years since she departed, i still sometimes cry for her. it's one reason why i didn't do anything in 2013. last year, i started again to exhibit, at least at home. when rumbles departed, i was shattered, i also had a sort of loss of confidence at the same time. i thought, what can i paint now, where do i paint from, who is my source, lots and iots of self doubt. am i still an artist? am i still an artist, without my darling muse? where do i go for my inspiration? who is my inspiration? all these and other self doubt; and what ifs kept coming, unwelcomed, in my mind during the last two years. also, during the last two years, i've started going within more. i feel i've scratched the surface of the awareness of going within. i lost my fear of dying because i already did, just after my first surgery. i almost made it, Home to Heaven. but i came to a fork in the path and that confused me and i came back here. this is all very personal. i still have a hard time putting words to my experience. i still get dis respected; i'm not sure why. sorry that i'm off my track of the call for artists…! the call for artists deals with happiness and the pressure to be happy. i think the exhibit would be great to be a part of, because i can say i''ve "been there". how to relate to other people can be a challenge, especially finding the right words to match the experience. i'm not sure why i'm resisting this exhibit. i guess i will visit it this fall, to view what the jury decided. i am still improving my skill as a visual artist. i will continue to post my works to show my progress as an artist. if you're on Facebook, you're welcome to visit and view my fan page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/AJ-Brown-Hands-and-Purrs/84194221410 oh, it's called a like page now… i am also on twitter and instagram. for both of these, i am: artbyajb. i feel that even if i'm not yet "professional", it's all a process and what i produce is still art for purchase. i would like to thank all my friends for letting me know of this show. please keep me informed of other shows i might miss… hugs to all :)

You are invited to the North Shore Art Crawl

February 9th, 2015

You are invited to the North Shore Art Crawl

Hello,

I created a video version of this announcement, with just the basic
information and posted to youtube at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2dLRsOP-PE

I'm AJ Brown and I’m participating in the North Shore Art Crawl.  http://nsartcrawl.ca/participant_profiles/aj_brown  

The North Shore Art Crawl is a free community arts festival that celebrates local artists. Our mission is to bring about approachable and accessible art venues that encourage the community to connect with, and celebrate the creativity of, our North Shore artists. Our goal is to engage, inspire, and transform the North Shore through inclusive alliances amongst artists and the community.This is self guided tour for the public of artists' studios.

The Crawl started as a grass roots movement by two North Shore artists, but after three years of organizing and running the event it became too time consuming for a small team of volunteers to handle, so the North Vancouver Community Arts Council offered to takeover the event.

The philosophy behind the Crawl is that we really want to be inclusive of all art forms without any artificial boundaries between art and crafts. In the last years we welcomed registrations from textile artists, jewelers, potters, designers, sculptors, comic book artists and many others.

I participated in the Crawl since 2012. When you visit my home studio you will see a variety of artwork I’ve produced since 1999 using acrylics, charcoal, pencil, mixed media, watercolour, ink and knitting.

You may view my work on March 7 and 8, from 10 am – 6 pm, at:

300-380 Klahanie Court
West Vancouver
My place marker on the Crawl map is number 18.
http://nsartcrawl.ca/map_brochure

For more information, Megan Koch
Events Coordinator
North Vancouver Community Arts Council 
604-988-6844, events@nvartscouncil.ca, nsartcrawl.ca

Ruminating

January 14th, 2015

Ruminating

Last night I was ruminating while I was brushing my teeth. I was thinking about rumbles, my own near death experience and all I felt during that. I haven’t told anyone my near death experience because, at the time, I thought it was just a very vivid dream. Also, this was a very deep personal thing. Who could I talk with about this, at that time? who would understand? Who would, without patting me on the head, saying there there and basically run me down? Who could I trust with my deep feelings? Who would KNOW? At the time, I felt more alone after the near death experience. So, I fell into a depression for many months afterward. The near death experience I had… is similar to others, that tunnel of light. I’ll back up… I just had my first back surgery, I remember being turned a couple of times in the sandwich bed, feeling fairly comfortable. I thought I was healing just fine after the surgery for scoliosis. Though, I could feel the new herrington rods in my back. I remember my next bed mate, an older woman, who also had the same surgery. She was very angry, and going through the grief stages. Losing mobility is traumatic for some. Then after that, things went wrong for me. I guess the student doctor thought I was not healing normally, or fast enough. So I was given a drug that was supposed to speed up my healing. It was in the I V drip I was receiving. I remember feeling like I was dying. You just know. I even told my Mom that I’m dying. I was drowning from the fully open I V drip. The bag was supposed to last like eight hours, but this emptied in 20 minutes. I was wheeled into ICU and someone smart put a catheter in me so I could urinate, which I desperately needed but was unaware of. When the catheter went in, I thought to myself, now I can start to heal. I then went into a coma. I had what I thought was a vivid dream of going down a tunnel of light. At the end of this tunnel is Home, or heaven to some. I could feel I was returning. I felt safe, whole, blissful, at peace. Though, I didn’t make it all the way. I came to a fork in the tunnel. One was to return to life as I knew it or to return Home. At the time, this choice confused me. I guess before, my soul would have a direct route Home. So, I returned. I don’t know how long I was in the coma, a week, 11 weeks. But to me, because I nearly made it Home, the time was always now. So, I thought it was only yesterday that I shared that room with the older lady. Boy, was I surprised how much time went by. It was difficult to have to return, after experiencing pure love. That was in 1986. I wouldn’t call that a life altering event, because at the time, I just didn’t know. And who could I tell? I guess I’m sharing this now, because of Rumbles. While I was brushing my teeth tonight, ah last night, I received this idea as a new painting to do. It is of Rumbles waiting for me at Home. I’ve “attached” this rough drawing as a start to this new painting. I always knew, that she and all my other animal friends I knew from this lifetime and all past lives, will be waiting for me when I return Home. Of course, so will all family and friends I knew. It will be quite a party. Words fall short of feelings. All we can do is try our best to express what we feel at anytime. Yes, I miss Rumbles very much, but grief is a gift to be opened gradually. We go at our own pace, hand in hand and foot in foot with the dear Creator. I guess this image is a merging of my pace with the Creator’s pace. I don’t think I’ve accepted Rumbles’ departure yet, but I’m learning to trust that inner Self. I’ve read and figured out that the Creator isn’t outside of us, “out there somewhere, sitting on a cloud”, but inside us. I guess Rumbles’ departure, prompted me to do a search, really for my higher Self, the Creator inside. This is what I’m coming to accept. I guess when I learn to trust this higher Self, I will then accept Rumbles’ departure. When Rumbles departed, I was completely shattered. How do you pick up the pieces? Nothing to hold onto. Just precious memories, artwork, and photographs remain. Nowhere to go but up. Leave the pieces where they are, but keep the memories. Of course, it doesn’t do to stay in the past. Staying connected to the Now moment is a daily challenge, even a challenge moment by moment. I’m getting there! Take one breath. Draw one line. Move one step. Do one thing if that’s all I can do. Hugs to everyone.

I adopted Rumbles

January 14th, 2015

I adopted Rumbles

I adopted Rumbles, my second cat, during the third week of November, 2000. I got her to keep my first cat, Panther, company while I was away for learning how to make a video. It became apparent that Rumbles was afraid of everything and everyone. So, I made sure Rumbles saw everything I brought home. Over the years, I told Rumbles to be assertive. Assertive is what I got! She helped herself to my freshly baked muffins, and took bacon off my plate when I had pancakes. She’d also lick the salt off my potato chips. She eventually had me trained to hold a muffin or a potato chip for her.  She didn’t like high places. When we adopted each other, she would bolt to under the bed if the doorbell/phone rang. She would stay there until her perceived monster left. But, when I had some deaf friends over, she would come out to see what the silence was. Communicating in sign language was new experience for her. Rumbles was so very badly abused. Rumbles told me, telepathically, of some of the abuse she experienced. She was starved, kicked, and her past owner grabbed her tail and swung her. I was devastated when I learned all that. Why would anyone abuse a gorgeous cat like this? Knowing that, I told her, she’s safe with me. She was not a hold me cat, and not a lap cat. But she was definitely a close cuddler. When I read books or watched tv, she would have her back to my leg or her feet against my leg. Thus warming each other up. I had to earn her trust. I did that over time by allowing her to get to know me as I am, on her terms. When I came home from being out, no matter how long or short the time, she would greet me with her dainty walk, and tail way up high, with a little crook at the end of her tail. She would take my pancakes, probably because I used bacon fat to cook them in. I used to set the smoke alarm off, often. It got so often, that she eventually got used to that and looked bored when I set it off. She would look as if she was saying, “Oh, you set the smake alarm off, again!” Big yawn. She tried avocado for a while also, because I sprinkled nutritional yeast on. She was crazy for nutritional yeast! No cat story is complete without a story about their hunting! Rumbles brought in moths from the balcony. I didn’t know of that! She would capture them and bring them in and release them and play / hunt them then eat. She went between the walls of the apartment. Her first time, for me anyway, she spent quite some time in there. I was getting nervous and had visions of the fire department breaking open the wall to fish her out. Then I heard a thump. So, I was going to call the fire department, but she emerged from the kitchen hole with a mouse from her mouth! When we visited my Mom’s for Christmas, Mom left the balcony door open a hair line width. Rumbles must have worked all night to get that heavy balcony door open! She presented Mom with a hummingbird. Mom was Not pleased. Oh, I am a visual artist. Rumbles participated in my artwork as well. Once I was totally engrossed in a painting; I forgot everything. Then when I stood up to admire my artwork thus far, Rumbles jumped onto the artwork! She brought me back to the present moment, meowing in my face. I am currently editing a video in which I talk about the creation of one of my paintings, from creation to finish. She’s in that, also. I am so grateful I told her over the years to be assertive.  When it was movie night, she would join me and lay on one side of my lap, then after a few minutes, jump off the sofa, walk around the trunk – table, have a good scratch on her scratching post. Then she would jump back on the sofa, on my other side, and dive into my popcorn, to lick all the butter on the bottom! What a bum! Then she would jump over the popcorn bowl and resume her nap. Rumbles was always so trusting of me. Sometimes she slept with her eyes open, mouth open, on her back with all four feet wherever. I tried to take pictures of her like that, but to no avail. I think we were so close because we knew each other in past lives. For sleeping at nights, she would start her nights, sleeping ON my feet. Then she would move to behind my knees. Next, either back to back or front to front. Sometimes she would even come under the sheet and blankets. Sometimes in the morning she would wake me with a variety of ways: pawing my head, sometimes with her claws sometimes not, just breathing into my face, and touching nose to nose. One morning, I awoke to green eyes. I was on my back, and she was on my tummy.  Little did I know how deeply Rumbles’ pawprints would touch my heart. She was just 13 and under three months when she departed. Thank you, dear sweet Rumbles, for being the star of my life! I know we will see each other again. My visual art website is www.handsandpurrs.ca

Merry Christmas

December 22nd, 2014

Merry Christmas

hello everyone,

i would like to give thanks to everyone in my life who have touched me and i hope i have returned the favour.

it looks like this year will be a green christmas here in vancouver, bc. though, in the past, mother nature surprised us with snow, right on christmas day.

my teacher at my recent course at emily carr, gently encouraged me to draw and paint cats. i was unsure i could, because i am still missing my cat named Rumbles. wow. she was an amazing gentle spirit. i still cry for rumbles sometimes; i still feel shattered. i include the artwork i did last year for my mixed media course: those are broken incandescent light bulbs, to represent my feeling of shatteredness. i live on the hope that one day i will have another cat. i have to figure out a way to do this. i wrote an article for the black cat white dog newspaper, about rumbles. i includ a link to the magazine. my article is on page 11. Black Cat White Dog Newspaper, February / March Issue i think i will post the full article i wrote in an upcoming blog post, because the article i wrote was edited. i'll post it, unedited.

one pleasant memory i'd like to share about rumbles: sometimes i made pancakes for breakfast, with bacon. i put the plate on the table and i'd turn my back to cook more. i turn again and i see her helping herself to a pancake! probably because it was cooked in bacon fat.

so, may your christmas be filled with your cat helping her/him self to your food, laughter, and peace.

hugs to all.

February Art News

February 14th, 2014

February Art News

Hello, here is my e newsletter that i just sent out to my e newsletter people: (copied and pasted)

January was quite busy for me.

I had to close my studio at 195 Pemberton Avenue, for various reasons. Maybe one day,
I will find a new studio from which to create. In the meantime, I will do my artwork from home.

I sold a painting: the Three Kittens. :)

I finally uploaded my documentary video, showing my painting process for the painting I
worked on last year. Doing both the painting and this video was part of my grief process,
for Rumbles. This was difficult for me to get through. I really wanted to finish it before my
course at Emily Carr started. I hope you take the time to view it on my youtube channel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUL4SL0SKO4&list=UUB369mCiqohmTD4oK2FYLTw&feature=c4-overview

I contributed an article to the Black Cat, White Dog magazine:
http://www.blackcatwhitedognews.com/editions/BCWD15.pdf

I am also taking a course at Emily Carr University, through their continuing ed program. This
course is called the Business of Art Practise, and is required for the certificate I'm going for.

I am planning to take part in this year's North Shore Art Crawl, on the third weekend of April.
Details to come.

Happy belated new year and happy early Valentine's Day!

Hugs to all. A.J.

Giving thanks

February 14th, 2014

Giving thanks

I just found out that someone blogged about my website! I found out from a new acquaintance who told me she was searching for abstract art with a Japanese theme. The search results brought her to a blog that had my Mask drawing which directed her tp another blog about me and my art. Yippee! So, to whomever wrote / blogged about my website here, THANK you SO much! I had no idea. :)

To the universe at large, please keep up with these Very Nice Surprises! :)

Book of A J Brown

February 14th, 2014

Book of A J Brown

The book I wrote, My Voice: A Journey of Courage, Creativity and Hope can be found here:
Click here

Contact Magazine for Christ Church Cathedral Spring 2007, Volume 38, Issue 1

February 14th, 2014

Contact Magazine for Christ Church Cathedral Spring 2007, Volume 38, Issue 1

The Art of A.J. Brown
Barbara Brown

The art of A.J. Brown is notable for its childlike naiveté and is seen as not contrived but bold, courageous and honest, arising as it does from her disabilities and her great need as a creative person to communicate, to dream and to imagine a new and better world.

A recent showing of A.J.’s art illustrates her range as a conceptual artist and her belief that a viewer’s impressions and insights of any particular painting are more important than the traditional view of art as a precious commodity.

Visitors to ‘Between Friends’, a co-show at West Vancouver’s Silk Purse Gallery with established artist Marie Becker-Pos, wrote at length about their impressions of A.J.’s art: “Super great work, both simple and complex at same time.” “I really enjoyed the story telling qualities in both worlds.” “I love how you use so many diverse mediums. Congratulations on a successful show.” “This is a remarkable show, so well matched! Cats & birds, Argyle garden & fanciful designs. I loved it all.”

A.J.’s interest in art began in 1999 when she participated in art therapy classes about the time that her disabilities forced her to retire from paid work. Since then she has studied with the Vancouver School Board (a great experience because they supplied ASL interpreters for every class) and the North Shore night school (a bad experience because no interpreters were provided). Since 2005, A.J. has been mentored by a collective of artists under the guidance of Elizabeth Harris-Nichols at the Bad Dog Studio in North Vancouver.

A.J. first exhibited her work in 2002 and now has had exhibitions in several galleries, including the CityScape Art Space, the Artists Helping Artists in Burnaby, a deaf artists show at Vancouver Community College, the West Vancouver Harmony Arts Festival, with their ‘Art Beat,’BC Festival of the Arts, the Deaf Canada
Conference Art Show in Quebec City and the Silk Purse Gallery
She is a member of the Society for Disability Arts and Culture, MediaEyes Production Society, The Famous Open Door Studio Society and the North Vancouver Arts Commission.

A.J. is excited about the growing interest in her art, and we recently met over lunch to discuss her work.

“I began to paint because it was so hard to be employed by other people. I worked for the government and found full-time work and the three-hour commute to be exhausting due to the stress and being CPish [AJ’s unique descriptor for her cerebral palsy symptoms, which have worsened over time].
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“I’m inspired by what surrounds me – my cats; Rumbles and Panther, the view of the trees and birds from my window, the work of other artists like Picasso who is so free, the photography of Ansel Adams, a movie perhaps. Sometimes my friends say things. The painting ‘The Lazy Melting Cat’ was inspired by comments my friend Leanor made about her cat in front on the fireplace.
“I like to work with an image and along the way, some humour comes out. A magazine photo inspired ‘The Dog and the Wedding Cake’. I let it sit in my collage book for a long time before I actually made the painting. From the beginning I thought it was funny and poor dog would later be sick. Cats just get into my paintings! I can paint Rumbles shape now without any references!

“The Purple Cat’ started with the sky. I used my hands to get all that texture. That’s how I get the great feel for detail. Panther was once a participant in my art, with his tail. I just let him swish away on the one I call ‘Panther Comedy’. His work is on the eye colour.

“In the past few years I did a lot of volunteer work with a deaf video group called MediaEyes. I acted with Theatre Terrific in a couple of roles. At Gallaudet University [the Washington DC liberal arts university for the deaf and hard of hearing] I wrote modern, classical music and even received a couple of awards for my work.

“The Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing recognized my contribution to local deaf culture in 2005, as an example for people in adversity. Their WIDHH Award is given annually and was given that year to three of us. I was cited because they felt I was an inspiration for living.

“Generally, I’m upbeat and positive. I try to find the humour in situations. But painting is my focus now. For recreation, I love to walk. Sharing time with good friends is great. I love to spend time with other artists and more and more I have the opportunity to paint with them.

“In ten years I would like to be living and working in some place hot, like Toller Cranston in Mexico. Painting full-time. It’s my plan. Of course, I know changes will happen along the way. I’m hoping for a better future.

“Everyone asks me about my AJB butterfly signature. It’s a symbol. You know a butterfly starts as a caterpillar and then turns into a butterfly later. Likewise, for me!

“Advise for budding artists? Keep at it. That’s the only way.”

To view A.J.’s art go to www.handsandpurrs.ca.

Alumni Profile A J Brown 1990

February 14th, 2014

Alumni Profile A J Brown 1990

AJ Brown, ’90

It takes some artists a lifetime to develop a distinct style and gain renown. For others, fame doesn’t come while they are alive to enjoy it. But for AJ Brown, ‘90, it’s taken just 10 years of painting to hone a distinct concept for her work and to draw an adoring fan base.

Brown grew up in Vancouver, B.C., and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She ventured down to the States in 1985 to attend Gallaudet, studying English literature. No art courses made it onto Brown’s class roster during her time at the University, nor for several years after. But she did find friends and mentors in several professors, including Joe Grigely, a retired English faculty member, and Diane Merchant of the former Music Department. “They were genuinely interested in me,” Brown recalled. “They were role models for me, as well.”

When she returned to Vancouver with her college degree, Brown discovered that as a deaf woman with cerebral palsy, there were barriers in the job market that she had not anticipated. She went back to school, taking music and business courses. She considered becoming a musician, a dancer, and a model. She worked at an income tax agency and at the post office. Ultimately, a muse came into her life that changed everything.

Brown began taking art courses in 1999 and found that painting was the right medium for her. The subjects of her artwork also became clear. Brown enjoyed using her first cat, Panther, and photos of other pets to create her pieces. Her paintings continue to incorporate furry characters. Although she often works from photos, Brown’s works employ abstract techniques like bright blocks of color and skewed angles. She calls her style “conceptual,” and said that each of the pieces tells a story.

The specific animals vary from painting to painting, sometimes fluffy and black like her current companion, Rumbles, and sometimes a fanciful blue; sometimes seated and obedient, other times prowling and mischievous. Secretly, though, like Marc Chagall, who always added a rooster to his dream-like watercolors of people and animals, Brown sneaks the spirit of a certain character into each painting. “I put my cat in each one,” Brown revealed, “and a bit of myself in as well.”

Some of her paintings feature a scene familiar to pet owners, like a cat pawing at a running shower, while others imagine a world in which daffodils communicate from their vases. She sometimes incorporates words, like Panther’s name in the Pablo Picasso-inspired piece “Panther Comedy’s Eye Colour.”

“Her themes have expanded and are bold and fun, as it is with her use of color,” said friend Lisz Keallen, who met Brown as her interpreter and has been following her work from the start.

In 2004, Brown released her first book. Through poetry, art, and stories, My Voice: A Journey of Creativity, Courage and Hope describes the brushstrokes she has used to become an artist and the challenges she faced as she filled her life’s canvas.

As Brown continued to paint and gained self-assurance, she formed the idea for a business. “It started as a natural evolution from my creations,” Brown said. “I wanted to develop a business of artwork, paintings, greeting cards, art prints, and my book.” In 2005, on the advice of a job counselor from the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Vancouver, Brown went to a self-employment program. Within two years, she had learned enough to start her company.

Since starting her business, Hands, Paws, and Purrs, Brown has created a website—handsandpurrs.ca—and wrote a second book, Room in my Heart: A Book of Cats Galore. She has also participated in several art shows. News stories about her have appeared in artistsincanada.com and Contact Magazine, and she has been interviewed on two Vancouver television shows.

In November of 2008, Brown hung her first solo exhibit, “The Ultimate Gift,” in Vancouver. “I felt proud, joyous, and like I was 10 feet tall,” Brown said. The exhibit drew enthusiastic comments, and several people paid her the compliment of buying her work. “That was the icing on my cake,” she said.

In addition to painting, Brown is active in the community. She sits on the board of directors for the Society for Disability Arts and Culture and The Voice of the Cerebral Palsied of Greater Vancouver, and she is involved with two other arts organizations. Brown is proud of what she has accomplished as an artist who happens to be deaf and have cerebral palsy. “A double disability, so to speak,” she said, but not a major barrier—not a barrier to creating art, nor to sharing her oeuvre with friends, colleagues, and the community. Indeed, she has participated in more than 20 shows since 2002.

As she looks ahead, Brown wants to continue learning and developing herself and her business. “My plans for the future are to keep loving my cat, keep reaching out, keep learning, and keep painting,” she said.

This profile originally appeared in the spring 2009 issue of Gallaudet Today Magazine.

 

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