Brown throughout his career often depicted natural disasters and events that would rock our culture and our environment. In his paintings he chronicles both his personal experience with them and his own commentary and yet includes us and how we as a people experience them in the broader realm of lives in America.
In 1994, it has been recorded that Brown experienced while living in La Conchita in Southern California, a 6.6 earthquake that hit the San Fernando valley. He painted a series of works depicting this event. Brown was a master at translating an experience and how it felt onto the canvas. Here he double-vison portrays the houses moving so that the viewer feels themselves the disorienting experience. He heightens it by expressively creating the hilltops the houses are perilously perched on. And in these homes, Brown empathetically depicts and recognizes that everyone around him experiences this and includes humanity as a whole to the event. The sky is in tumult which may symbolize that nature is powerful and that these circumstances are beyond our control, even though we create homes, communities and safeguards to protect our lives. We are always small in the greater depiction of the canvas and the event. The further allusions could keep going with this work as that is what makes Brown an important artist and one we revere. He utilizes what seems like a comic book style at first but as we understand all the content he packs into a subject and the depth of the narrative, that this artist’s mind and message was anything but simple.
Chicago, Phyllis Kind Gallery, April 8 – May 6, 1994
Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Roger Brown: California Dreamin’, Nov 1996 - Jan 1997