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James Brown

Farmer's Market, 1986 (Oil on Canvas, 60x83 inches)

Farmer's Market (1986), by James Brown (Click image or use Zoomify controls for high-resolution)

James Brown is an African-American painter, illustrator and graphic artist. In a biographical statement, Brown wrote that "art is a means of making people more cognizant of their historical origins and the vitality of their own culture." He has dedicated his life to documenting the everyday experiences of black people. Brown considers Haiti his second home, but he is a New Yorker who lives in Queens, which is probably where Farmer’s Market was conceived.

Farmer’s Market is packed with beautiful ripe produce and eager shoppers. This is a multi-ethnic, urban market scene with a country tone. Weighing scales hover overhead like festive balloons that bring the space to life. The light background outlines the figures, which seem individual even though they have obscured faces.

From a distance, Brown’s Farmer’s Market looks like an awesome color photograph because the fine brush strokes make the painting’s surface slick like a photograph. But, up close, it is clearly a skillful painting. As one moves away from the painting, details seem to appear, but Brown actually abbreviated quite a bit. Because the market scene is familiar, the viewer fills in the missing details.

Brown received his BA from Long Island University and his MS from Brooklyn College. Brown’s art has been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe, Canada and the Caribbean alongside better-known artists like Romare Bearden, Frank Stella and Elizabeth Catlett who are also represented in the York College Fine Arts Collection.

Formerly displayed outside the G-wing entrance to York College's library, Farmer's Market was moved into the library following major library renovations in 2007-2008. Brown's work now hangs opposite the Circulation Desk.

by Engelynn Roldan, Class of 2002

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  1. http://www.carrieartcollection.com/artist-arc/james_brown/statement.html accessed on 05/16/02.

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This project was completed in Spring 2008 by students in English 384, Writing for Electronic Media.