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Summer exhibit spotlights Betty Brown’s artwork

To summarize Betty Brown’s career, which spans over forty years, into one short article is near impossible. Her CV in and of itself is pages long. I imagine the challenge to do so, however, is similar to the one in which Brown (above) faces as she pulls together pieces to showcase in her upcoming retrospective exhibit.

The show runs June 1-July 27 at University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Cultural Arts Building CAB gallery. The idea for the retrospective came from Donald Furst, professor of art and CAB gallery director. “One of the things we try to do with our summer exhibit is to showcase someone that is especially connected to the community.” Furst says. “She (Brown) has been very active in the Wilmington art community for a long time and has had a long productive career.”

Furst reached out to Brown with the idea, and she has been collecting pieces ever since.

“I’ve been working on it all year,” says Brown, whose work adorns businesses, hospitals, universities, and homes throughout the Carolinas and across the country.

Brown reached out to numerous people who have purchased her work over the years and asked them if she could borrow the paintings to display in the retrospective exhibit.

“My children have some of my work. I’ve received a piece from a doctor’s office and a piece that was commissioned by a bank in town,” she says. “There are a few pieces from friends and relatives in South Carolina. Ms. Betty Cameron had a lot of my work, which was inherited by her family, and they’re lending some to me, too.”

Throughout the duration of her career, Brown has worked with a range of mediums, but she adds “most of what I do is representational work in watercolor and oils.”

Brown drew, and continues to draw, inspiration from many of the people and places with which she comes into contact. Her artwork includes paintings of her grandchildren, florals, and scenes from trips with friends to places such as Portugal, Greece, and Italy. Brown says she’s “pretty extensive in what I like to paint” and feels it’s her job to “help people see things in a way they may not have … to make insignificant things more fascinating.”

“It’s been interesting to reflect on my work and see the progress, or lack thereof, over the year,” says artist Betty Brown with a laugh.

According to Brown, she used to paint outdoors more but now creates her work both inside the studio as well as outside, noting her new rule that she doesn’t paint outside if the weather is “below 60° or above 80°.”

One can imagine it must be a reflective process to pull together pieces for a retrospective and to see artwork again after many years.

“It’s a surprise. You have a picture in your head or a catalog from a show to remember (the art) in that way,” Brown says. “It’s fun to see after all these years – like seeing an old relative.”


To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, visit www.terahwilson.com.