About Donald Hazen Brown
The Geo Galleries website is an archive of the artwork of Donald Hazen Brown; 1934-2013. Don had a lifelong interest in art. He put his love of art second while he served as a minister until his retirement in 1998 when he was able to pursue his passion full time. He earned his bachelor's degree from Emory & Henry College. He attended Drew University Theological School where he earned two masters degrees. He was a United Methodist minister for 42 years. He served the parishes in 1956-1959 Morristown, NJ Minister of Youth; 1960-1962 Clifton, NJ Belle Vista; 1963-1966 Maplewood, NJ Hilton; 1967-1971 Spring Valley, NY; 1972-1976 Franklin Lakes, NJ; 1977-1991 New City, NY; 1992-1998 District Superintendent, Hudson, NY.
He studied art through a correspondence course with the Washington School of Art in Port Chester, NY. Studied two summers with the late John Costigan. Studied for 6 years 1977-1983 at the Rockland Center for the Arts under Jerri Vanderhoef, concentrating in watercolor painting. His first public showing was at the New City, NY Library December 1, 1983. Don taught watercolor classes in the Nanuet, NY Adult Community Education Program and the Nanuet Public Library for multiple years in retirement.
He was happily married to Gail Bridegam Brown for 53 years and a father to 4 children and 12 grandchildren.
Proceeds from the sale of artwork are being donated to the United Methodist Church Food Pantries.
After Don retired he bought his childhood home in Allendale, NJ. He had always wanted a dedicated place to work on his artwork. With the help of his 3rd child Paul who was a local contractor and cabinet maker they were able to create that space. This letter below describes his journey to find his perfect place to paint.
The first 105 paintings have descriptions from Don Brown:
"Watercolor Reflections." It might also be called, "Watercolor Meditations." My reflections, or meditations, were written after I had completed the painting. With some paintings I was aware from the outset what I was feeling and wanted to communicate through the medium of watercolor. In other instances it was only after the completion of the work that I reflected upon what I had painted and uncovered for myself what it was that moved me to paint that particular subject.
A Place to Paint 6-10-2006
The first location was on the dining room table... In fact, it was the only space available in the small, rented apartment of my early years. Mom didn't object to my paints, ink, and chalk spread all about the table and left there days at a time. The family always ate at the kitchen table, so it was no inconvenience for me to commander and monopolize the dining room table while I worked on my drawings and paintings. It was my first "place to paint".
When, some years later, we moved to our own home and my brothers married leaving our bedroom all to me, I could claim the big oak desk in the comer of the room all to myself. There I could involve myself with my art endeavors undisturbed. Even the draws in the desk were mine to house my paints, charcoal, pastels, inks, pencils, and pens. It was my first very own "place to paint."
Then came the hiatus. The next eight years of college and seminary afforded me little opportunity to pursue my painting. Caught up in the challenge and excitement of preparing for a life as an ordained clergy, I gave little thought or effort to where I might find "a place to paint."
Shortly after my first appointment to Clifton, my desire to paint again surfaced, however limited. In our tiny parsonage, which also served as my study and the church office, the kitchen table was my only recourse. And, in all, it was used quite sparsely.
During the time in my next appointment in Maplewood, sensing an increasing need to find ways of eliminating the pressures of pastoral ministry, I, almost of necessity, looked again for "a place to paint." My health had given way, and I needed the therapy of my art. By now I had three children and every nook and cranny of the house was occupied. The only place was in the dingy, damp cellar of the parsonage, part of which still had a dirt floor. But at the bottom of the cellar steps, where there was a concrete slab and an overhead pull chain light, I set up an easel and found "a place to paint". It was less than ideal, but there was no other possibility.
During my five years of pastoring in Spring Valley, I signed up for enrollment in the correspondence school, "The Washington School of Art." Now with four children in the house and a basement cramped with storage, I looked to the third-floor attic. There, in the front on the house, some pastor, long ago had attempted to finish off a small room with sloping ceilings and a small window at the far end of the building. Seeing possibilities, I plastered the cracked faded walls, and gave the tiny room a coat of light green paint. Artists often are pictured painting in attics, so my little attic room seemed most appropriate! Although unbearably hot in the summer and a bit cold in the winter, the room did give me "a place to paint". And progress with my correspondence school went well. My next appointment to Franklin Lakes saw a demise my pursuit of art
It was a bigger more active church demanding more of my time... Although my interest did not wane, I did little painting during those five years.
Consequently, I never worried about "a place to paint" ---not that there was much, if any, spare space available in our split-level parsonage. My move to New City provided us with the largest of our homes. I soon learned of the "Rockland Center For the Arts" and again began my quest for painting. Although the house was commodious, there was no one room unoccupied. However, the living room was very spacious and in the far comer I was able to erect a card table and lamp. Promising my wife I would keep my supplies in tidy fashion, I was able to use that comer as "a place to paint". Some years later, when our son Paul moved out of the house to embark upon his adult life, I transferred my art supplies upstairs, rearranged his former bedroom, and in a much-expanded area, found a new "place to paint."
Upon leaving New City we moved to the District Parsonage in Harrington Park. The "we" of our family by this time included only Gail and me. Our location in Harrington Park afforded the two of us with the largest home yet: a sprawling, comfortable, two floors, four-bedroom Cape Cod house. With all our children now out on their own, I had a choice of bedrooms to claim for a "place to paint." The irony is that at this point in my life, as a District Superintendent I had the least time of all to paint. The nature of the Super-intendancy is such that I was "on the road" full time! Though the space to paint was now available, time for that endeavor was more than scarce. But during summer vacations, I devoted my time to painting, signing up for a watercolor workshop with the painter, George Southerland in Stamford, Connecticut. I used the walls of the spare bedroom to create a "mini gallery", hanging my painting on every vacant space.
Then came retirement and we settled down in the family homestead in Allendale. The house was considerably smaller than any house we had lived in for the past 40 years, and we brought 40 years of accumulation with us! The entire basement was crammed with boxes and all sorts of odds and ends. With but two bedrooms upstairs, there was little space for "a place to paint." The second bedroom for the first year was initially occupied by our daughter, until she re-married and moved out. Gail wanted that bedroom set up as a guest room. I wanted it as "a place to paint." We compromised. I had half the room for my painting table and supplies, and a bed was set up in the other half of the room. It was not really a satisfactory arrangement for either one of us.
Time went by. Gail badly wanted a guest room, and I badly wanted more space for painting. We knew what the answer was to our dilemma. Clean out the basement and I would migrate downstairs and free up the bedroom for a guest room. It took us six years to achieve that goal. At last, in March of 2004, the sorting, eliminating, and re-storing all on the furnace side of the basement was accomplished
Now my plans were to paint the unfinished cinder block walls of the cellar, the concrete floor, and perhaps even the exposed floor joists among which the Bx electrical wiring and pipes from the steam furnace were located.
My next move was to contact our son, Paul, the cabinetmaker, for his suggestions. Paul had a much grander idea. He wanted to frame out the walls, sheet rock them, box in the exposed steam pipes, put up a complete ceiling to cover the 8x10 floor joists, build a cabinet around the electrical box, and hide the gas meter and water meter with a closet covered with louver doors Paul also felt it imperative that the open stairs and stairwell leading down to the basement be enclosed and sealed off from the furnace-storage side of the basement. This was far more than I had envisioned. But he persuaded us to do, "the job right", in his words.
So Paul went to work. With a couple of his helpers, in three weeks he transformed an ordinary cinder block basement into a beautiful art studio and gallery. Library shelves were built in one comer for my art library. Track lighting was then installed to light the 48 paintings I displayed on the walls, and blue tufted carpeting was laid over the floor and stairwell. The room was then painted a neutral gray-blue color. My painting table, a lightbox, my old oak desk and a Captain's bed at the far end of the room whose draws were used for paint supplies and paper, completed the room.
In my thank you letter to Paul, I wrote to him saying, "I have always dreamed of having a place set aside exclusively for my avocation of art... but. I never envisioned, what has come to pass. It is more than I had ever dreamed. Thanks for making my dream come true."
I now truly have "A Place to Paint."
And Gail has her guest room!