When I first moved to New York in 1982 I lived on Chambers
Street in Lower Manhattan. At the time the neighborhood was
scarcely residential. The architecture dominated everything.
Looking up, I liked the dizzying views of the buildings as they
jockeyed for position on the skyline. The buildings cut up the sky
into jagged shapes. At night, entire floors of office buildings remained
illuminated in garish display. I took this urban landscape
as the subject of my painting and tried to convey the excitement
I felt at being in this place.
In my representations, some of the buildings are reduced to their
elements with vertical, horizontal, and diagonal strokes. I tried to
find a muscular equivalent in paint for the visual energy of the
architecture. To balance the painterly treatment of the buildings,
I selected bright colors for the backgrounds.
I got many of my ideas for the paintings as I walked or jogged
around Lower Manhattan. I had a regular painting spot on Pier
14 at the South Street Seaport, which was at the time a derelict
strip piled with industrial debris, to which a Civil War era barge
was anchored. From there I did many watercolors looking back
at the buildings towering over the East River. I used these watercolors
as the basis for larger oil paintings. Now Pier 14 has
been renovated, and security concerns would certainly prevent
me from venturing to this location. The paintings are for me an
artifact of a more innocent time. I hope my enthusiasm for the
startling visual landscape of New York is evident from them.”
Deborah Brown earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale
University, New Haven, Connecticut, and a Master of Fine Arts
degree from Indiana University, Bloomington. Her work is held
in numerous museum collections, including those of the Indianapolis
Museum of Art, Indiana; the DeCordova Museum and
Sculpture Park, Lincoln, Massachusetts; the Frederick R. Weisman
Museum of Art, Malibu, California; the Bass Museum of Art, Miami,
Florida; and the Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina.