We’ve been following the work of Linda Luise Brown for quite awhile now. Her abstract paintings are lush, and her knowledge of art history and architecture is deep – a valuable resource for Brown who is often questioning, pushing, and experimenting. Learn more below about one of Charlotte’s valued artists – but whatever you do, don’t call her artsy!
HappeningsCLT: Describe yourself in three words?
Linda Luise Brown: Reader. Writer. Painter.
HCLT: Who or what inspires you artistically?
LLB: I could write an entire essay about inspiration, and it still wouldn’t tell the whole story. In many ways, this is the most personal question you can ask an artist. Some people want to tell you everything. Others don’t want to explicate the mystery. The poetry of inspiration can be eradicated with too much introspection.
As Chuck Close famously said, “Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”
Settling down to work (currently in my home studio) is the most inspiring activity for me. But there is lots of back-work to make this happen. One way or other, you actually need to be in motion, whether that’s mental or physical, to be inspired. Maybe you are drawing or making jewelry in the studio, maybe you are watching a performance, or you are meditating, or you are photographing a piece of architecture. Your mind is engaged. You are working, open, and receptive. You have to feed the mind.
I love to travel, and see things, visit galleries and cities and museums, movies, and read – all of which may inspire me. Some of that is unpredictable, and for me, it’s pure serendipity when true inspiration really happens. For example, I didn’t predict an entire body of work would be inspired by a visit to Mies Van der Rohr’s (post-1986 reconstruction) iconic Barcelona Pavilion at Montjuïc, with its walls of golden onyx and green marble.
Chuck Close means that professionals don’t sit around waiting for inspiration to strike or try to conjure it up. They get to work and in the immersive process of that work, they set up the context and the environment for ideas to flow, unbidden, from many sources. This is what we call “inspiration” and it’s unpredictable. All we can do is set up our lives, or try to, creating environments that induce –or encourage—these creative impulses.
HCLT: Where can we see your work?
LLB: My art can be seen inside homes and financial institutions around the city, as well as with Irina Toshkova at The New Gallery of Modern Art.
HCLT: Tell us about your current body of work?
LLB: It’s experimental. I’m making a fresh foray into photography. I was quite involved with this medium before moving to Charlotte with my husband, David Walters, in 1990. I’m returning to it, in a modest way.
I’ve also completed and printed a couple of digital sketchbooks featuring work we created together at Arte Ginestrelle, an artists’ residency in the Umbrian mountains outside Assisi a few years ago. (We have also written a book about urban design together and new writing projects are lurking around the corner.)
HCLT: What do you think is the most valuable art experience in the Carolinas?
LLB: Wow. That’s hard. For whom? For anyone—or for artists? If I had to choose the most valuable art experience, my choice would be seeing artists’ studios, and talking with them about their work.
HCLT: What book is on your nightstand right now?
LLB: There are several—British (Elly Griffiths) and Scandinavian detective fiction being foremost. As well as Martin Settle’s book of poetry, The Teleology of Dunes. And I’ve just started The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay.
HCLT: When did you realize you were an artist?
LLB: Childhood: I just never lost that childhood craze to move color around. This was confirmed when I was a junior in college.
HCLT: Best meal in Charlotte?
LLB: This would be any of a number of my husband’s curries, at home.
HCLT: What is up next?
LLB: For the rest of the year, I’ll continue cataloguing my work; scanning historical photographs and printing them; and, making digital collages from my large inventory of oil paintings, with plans to form them into collectible books.
I am also involved in an intense writing project, (which is the perfect segue for me to add something tangential): When I taught Art Criticism to grad students and did a lot of writing as an art critic during the 1990s and early 2000s, I grew to see the value of critical thinking and how often this was missing in artistic discourse and production. I’d like to hear more people discussing art locally. There are groups out there: Art Chat, Charlotte Artists’ Platform, and new ones are forming. Can we expand these into a bigger forum for publicity and publication? We need to ask: what is 21st century art? Do you want to find out?
If I could add a simple question at the end of this interview question series, it would be: “Do you have pet peeve about the current art climate?” I would answer that my pet peeve is a single word: artsy. The use of the term “artsy” (no offense to artsy.net) to describe working artists and students, and their working environments, is vaguely insulting, and leads all too easily to the derogatory “artsy fartsy.” While “artsy” may sound amusing, piquant, or ironic for some people, more likely it signifies something irrelevant. The condescending adjective “artsy” is at the root of these casual attitudes, and reduces art to the same status as “entertainment.”
Words matter. We’ve become pretty sloppy when talking about, writing about, and critiquing contemporary early 21st century art. If we bother at all. (Kudos to https://happeningsclt.com for their fine coverage of all things art!)
Many people are afraid to be critical about other people’s work. But critiquing the work is not the same as critiquing the person. We learned that in school. Charlotte’s art world can only benefit from a robust strain of art criticism. I really miss the heady days of the 1990s when I was able to write art criticism every week in Creative Loafing, when that was a real alternative newspaper.