Chatham News

Artist Rich Brown considers the duality of his art in The Tin Man and The Somnambulist

By: Paul Kovach, Chief Communications Officer
February 16, 2011

PITTSBURGH (February 16, 2011) … Juxtaposing his structured, measured personality with its darker, somewhat chaotic self, Chatham University art lecturer Rich Brown explores his own artistic depths in “The Tin Man and The Somnambulist,” his first solo exhibition at the Chatham University Art Gallery, now through February 25. Brown, who lectures in print-making, sees the exhibit as the culmination of 17 years of dual vision as well, as works would come into focus and then slowly retreat, only to sharpen into clarity with the death of his father in 2009.

The Chatham University Art Gallery is located in Woodland Hall on the Shadyside Campus’ academic quad. Admission is free. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. For more information call 412-365-1233 or email

Brown notes in the exhibition statement that as a young student witnessing the end of the Modernist era, he often felt constrained to structure his work within a singular style, never to reach beyond its confines. “I felt like I was being forced to choose between abstract vs. realistic, classical vs. romantic, even though I could see the value of both sides of the equation,” he explains. “Finally, in 1993 I began to explore both sides at once, with the Tin Man treating order and logic as law, and the Somnambulist as the dreamer, the night explorer.”

The 16 pieces in this show consider this duality in marked respects, most notably the use of the square as the perfect geometrical frame. However, the media and message within that frame does not necessarily respect the perfect border surrounding it. For example, “Baggage” is a square wood frame reinforcing a wire mesh of 16 exact squares, with each of those squares composed of dozens of even smaller squares. However, flowing over and under and through the smaller squares is paper pulp, refusing to be held to the confines of its wire frame. Likewise in “…And the Clouds Waltzed at Midnight” another perfectly square frame holds sixteen small canvases, each with its own cirrus clouds. However, after a few moments the viewer’s mind attempts to ascribe order to the chaos, trying to assemble the individual canvases into a single painting that perhaps provides a closer explanation of the cloud’s true form.

Rich Brown was born in Pittsburgh in 1950. He received a B.A. in Studio Arts from the University of Pittsburgh in 1972, and, in 1976, an M.A. in Printmaking from the University of Iowa. In addition to being a fine artist, Brown is a graphic designer and illustrator.

About Chatham University
Chatham University prepares students from around the world to help develop solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. Consistently ranked among the top master’s level institutions in the Northeast by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review, Chatham University is also ranked in the top five percent of graduate-intensive institutions nationally and experienced the fastest-growing enrollment in the Pittsburgh region over the past decade. Founded in 1869, Chatham University includes the Shadyside Campus, with the historic 39-acre Woodland Road arboretum and Chatham Eastside facility; and the 388-acre Eden Hall Campus north of Pittsburgh. For more information call 800-837-1290 or visit