January 23 was the 12 year anniversary for the passing of my father, Howard Joseph Brown. Howard and Grace Brown nee Tanner were my parents. (They adopted me through Louise Wise Adoption Agency when I was 6 months old) Howard, born 19 February, 1924, joined one brother brother, Marvin born 9 Jan 1919, making the family of f Rose Brown nee Bornstein and Maxwell Brown complete.
Recently, in previous posts, I wrote about Abraham Rosen, his wife Kate Brickman, and my/our birth connection to the Brickman Hotel family of Catskill’s fame. It was through this discovery and connection with current Brickman family members that a true desire to re-meet and discover my father and his family, my family growing up, not of blood but of love, that I revisited the documents and photo’s of my fathers passion – to sculpt. This post is dedicated to Howard and my Brown family.
above: Rose with Howard below: Howard with his bicycle – I know, he was adorable but check out that bicycle!
The Maxwell Brown Family –
Howard and Grace Brown nee Tanner
Through my family research I met a woman named Patti who is the 1st cousin 1x removed of the wife of my 2nd great-uncle (so fun to write that) It was through an exchange of emails I learned, that her husband, Yossi Daboosh, is an accomplished and fantastic artist/sculptor just like my father. http://www.yossidaboosh.com/ It was then I began to really think about my father and his passion, something I must honestly say, I had not given much thought to. Howard’s art… just was, it was part of him, part of my life growing up. I had never really thought about Howard the artist, only thinking of him solely as Howard the father who was an artist. Shortly after my mother passed in 2015 while cleaning out their home I came across a folder that held a treasure trove of photo’s of his work and spotty records and receipts of where the pieces went to.
What I really want to share in this blog post is my father, Howard J. Brown and his incredible career as a sculpture and artist. Everywhere in the house were balls of wax, beginnings of figures he was working on, tiny replica’s of sculptures to come.
This swimmer group is a sampling of ‘something’ that was chosen to go into an apt complex, as far as I can tell, in Brooklyn, New York. Below is Howard, myself with daughters Fawn and Marissa. This photo is at least 30 years old and a treasure, artist and family visiting “The Swimmer” but where? (of course we didn’t label the photo)
I have begun a project labeling photo’s, labeling jewelry, and tchotchke’s around the house, adding brief descriptions and stories to match. I can not go back and ask the questions I so want answered but I can anticipate the questions that will be asked and answer them now.
Above is the piece ‘Lily Pond’ (but I believe the title had been changed to Water Lily) for delivery to the Americana Towers also in Brooklyn. This is actually a piece I can remember posing for. I was about 10 years old, the year 1963. This life size statue sold for $785.00 at the time. Today I wonder if it is even still in the lobby.
I can remember this 2 piece grouping fondly. It was massive and intimidating. My father’s records are crude and the handwriting hard to read but this piece has a receipt with the date of Oct 29th, 1963, and a rush date on Dec 19, 1963 for The Gramercy Park Tower, East 18th St & Third Ave. The price tag was $1525.00. He delivered his own work, rented a uhaul truck to deliver his pieces. It was quite an ordeal.
I have no idea where this piece is located. Of course it is the one I am most interested in learning if it is still standing. I have been doing some google earth searches of addresses I have found from receipts and I have to admit, some of the buildings don’t seem to be standing, 1 has been remodeled and shows no sign of his work, others seem delapidated dumps in the slums. The interior design company that placed much of his work, Blair House Interior’s, LTD has long since gone out of business. The trails seem to be running cold. However, I have a dear friend, living in Brooklyn who is tracking down a few addresses and information for me. I gave my Uncle Joe, living in Manhattan a few addresses as well to visit at his leisure. Hopefully I will have some answers soon as to the state of his work. My heart is heavy, I would so love to have one of his life size pieces in my yard. The thought of a new owner of or building manager removing his work and scrapping it is almost to hard to bare.
Howard’s passion was sculpting but he also painted.
His preferred medium was pastels, above, although he did work in oil, below. I am blessed to have a number of his wonderful pieces in my home.
I have these two smaller statues The Boxer, and this lovely, Woman on Rock.
It was difficult to make a living and support a family doing what he loved the most. I believe Howard truly struggled in making the decision to leave his passion and find another, eventually moving into education, attaining a doctorate in accounting, teaching at a number of colleges on Long Island before taking a post at St. John’s university where he retired from. One of my deepest regrets regarding my dad is that I did not value or truly understand the creative genius that made my father than man he was.
I found 2 brief write ups in the folder. The first is from the Merrick Art League on L.I. The second a smaller write up for demonstration he apparently was doing.
Next project is to research the Robert Aron Young and Avnet-Shaw Galleries.
Howard Joseph Brown your are loved and missed