Seven Questions - PAINTER KEL BROWN

March 2, 2023

Kel Brown is a multi-disciplinary artist with a decade of professional experience, as well as a portfolio of varied accomplishments including gallery exhibitions, private commissions, public murals and municipal projects for the City of Austin. He painted every individual label for Still Austin’s popular December 2022 Distillery Reserve Series release, Cognac Cask Straight Bourbon.

A man in a colorful shirt and black cap stands in front of vibrant abstract paintings, with a bottle of Still Austin Whiskey on a stool beside him.

1. What gets your motor running?

Going for a bike ride. You can catch me in East Austin pedaling my ass off, usually.

2. Tell us about a work of art or literature you feel is woefully misunderstood or underappreciated.

Hmm. Art is subjective as hell, so one person’s misunderstanding of a work is another’s view that the very same work is an absolute masterpiece. I guess the most recent example I can think of is the MLK sculpture that was recently unveiled in Boston. Abstraction gets a bad rap some times.

3. You’re known for your abstract paintings and murals. How do you create your paintings – do you know what you want them to look like beforehand? Or do you just “let it flow”?

I’m definitely a “let it flow” type of artist. That’s where the jazz influence plays heavily in my work and process. It’s difficult for me to imagine my work being planned out.

4. Who are your biggest influences?

Basquiat, Jaybo Monk, J Dilla, Kobe, Malcolm X, and my parents, Charles and Andrea Brown.

5. What do you think the point of abstract art is? What effect do you hope to accomplish with your work?

Raw expression that hopefully influences future generations to pick up where I left off and continue on their own creative journey. A new way of viewing human creativity outside of the figurative paintings that most consider “art.”

6. What would you say to someone who’s thinking about a career in art, but is afraid to make the leap?

No risk, no reward. It’s cliche, but it’s absolutely true. I took the leap over a decade ago and I haven’t looked back since.

7. What changes have you noticed in the Austin art scene over the past few years?

Change is the only constant with regards to this city, to be honest. I used to really be bummed out about it, but I think I’m pretty used to it at this point.

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