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About Jake Brown

Jake Brown was one of those children who was always creating something. Drawing, song writing, screen play writing or oil painting. He works on an oil painting for hours without talking. Many who know him find that in its self to be amazing. Jake enters another world when he paints, a peaceful world, a place that is enriching, his own world, his imagination. Through oil painting he recalls the landscapes he has seen in the past fifty-four years. He has been in the arts including oil painting since age five.

At times a painting will emerge as an abstract. However, generally speaking as Jake Brown puts it, his style is one of "imaginative realism".

oil painting

It all began on a cold night in January, back in 1951. Snow fell, covering The Berkshires like a white down quilt. Inside the small cottage trimmed with icicles, a young woman and man cuddled beneath a down quilt of their own. Little did they know that, in a few short months Hell would break loose in the form of a son.

As a boy I stood watch at the forts I built and fought off imaginary Indians. Later in life, I fought off wolves and learned to live with ghosts. There was a stream through the back yard, deer in the field and ducks on the pond. Cellar holes with stone walls hand-made by the colonists sleep quietly in the forest today. No longer supporting homes, time transformed those foundations into giant planter boxes for Maple trees that now, stand tall, painting the sky with Burnt Sienna, Alizarin and gold. Extending from the foundations, stone walls built as fences snake their way through fields and woodlands. They corralled cattle, defined property lines and divided neighbors. Each of these elements was part of that indefinable something which makes it possible for a person to recognize them self. I never gave much thought to those days of sunlight spilling down through Maple trees. It was simply the way things were. It was home. And, I watched it fade in my rear-view mirror.

The black top lay before me like a wound that does not heal and scarred my consciousness with a promise of redemption. I raced on. The whole country raced on. It was 1972. The summer of love was gone. It was a lie. Vietnam was any ones guess. My parents were getting divorced. In an odd way, their divorce made the senselessness of everything else seem reasonable. We were all engaged in a colossal exodus. To where, I didn't know but one thing was certain. I was leaving.

I could taste the soot in the air as I drove into Scranton Pennsylvania. It was 10:30 PM. and a neon sign lured me. "DINER", was all it said.

I entered the twilight zone of late night breakfast. The pallor of yellow incandescence hung like a felon above mill workers seated at the counter. They sized me up with a glance. I sat in a booth. "What'll it be hon," the waitress asked. Eggs over medium, home fries, bacon and English muffins I said. She looked down, over the top of her glasses at me. "Not from aroun' here are ya", she said. She called my order out to the cook and headed for the jukebox. The change fell, she pressed the keys. I sat quietly, tapping my foot to The Coal Miners daughter and the sizzle of bacon. Time was marked by the ceiling fan; slowly it turned above the counter with cigarette burns, where shoulders bend into rising steam, from years of drinking in routine.

One long blast from a whistle rang out. In a single move of choreographed Americana each man at the counter downed his java, adjusted his hard hat, reached to the floor for his black lunch box and stood up. They turned for the door and walked out in single file. I ate my breakfast and slept in the car that night.

The Mississippi River is a wide stroke of brown paint slashing through the gut of America. I didn't care. Cities and scenery flashed by with cornfields, endless cornfields. Omaha, Denver and Salt Lake merged in heat waves floating off pavement. I turned south.

MORTUARY, GET MARRIED, DIVORCE HERE, Vegas screams from silicon desolation with a nuclear, neon blast. Night falls everywhere except in Las Vegas. I parked in a vacant lot. Amid the glow of the almighty dollar I slept like a gunshot deer over the hood of my car. By the dawn's early light, I left Vegas.

San Francisco was in my sights; lands end but that didn't stop me. I went to sea, working on ships. Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, Japan, South America, Portland, Seattle, the Inland Passage to Alaska, all painted themselves on the ceiling of my skull. Killer whales and Bald Eagles perfectly accented the majesty of the Pacific Northwest. Evergreens on the shoreline seemed to grow out of the rocks as the rain-washed over them. I turned back to San Francisco.

My life was crammed together like city buildings and the rush hour crawl. I sold shoes, managed a print shop owned a hot dog cart, an espresso cart, an espresso kiosk and for nineteen years owned a janitorial business. During that time, I wrote songs, had publishing deals, wrote a screenplay and painted...always back to painting.

Then, one day in the rear view mirror I saw thirty years behind me. I had spent decades leaving home. That indefinable something had become all too definable. It is when I paint that I feel the best about myself. It is when I fully enjoy my wife, my garden, and my art. It is when little things are big like sitting on the porch with a good cup of coffee and watching the rain.

Now: Standing on the porch, I raise my cup and take the last sip. Steam rises from the coffee and fades in the rain. Turning for the door and shaking off a chill, I say, "It's good to be home".

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