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The Way That Wall Looks

3/15/17

Shea Stanfield
Arts Columnist

Many years ago, artist Georgia O’Keefe bought her “adobe abode” on the high desert of northern New Mexico saying, “I bought it just because I liked the way the door looked in the wall.” Arizona poet, artist, and musician William Clipman would write years later, “Filling a space in a beautiful way, that is what art means to me.” Today, another generation of local artist and Phoenix native Andrew Brown carries forward the spirit of the “fabulous wall” in his modern day interpretive murals, filled with soul shaking, eye popping, and mind bending style...filling a space in a beautiful way…and as they say, “the beat goes on.”

Andy’s early years in Phoenix were filled with adventure and exploration. He and his brother lived in the area of 63rd Ave and Olive. The area offered plenty of open fields, long roads with little traffic, and ample concrete for riding bikes and skateboarding at Glendale Community College. Later, the family moved to north Phoenix, where Andy attended Vista Verde Middle School and North Canyon High School. In the 1980s, the area around North Canyon was relatively unencumbered by homes and commercial projects providing Andy, his brother, and friends plenty of space to continue their exploration. Yes, they were the last generation of young “Creatives” not influenced by the menacing, persistent, mind-numbing screens of today’s technology.

Creativity, for Andy and his friends, was any problem to be solved, i.e. designing forts, racetracks, and skateboard ramps. With pen, pencil, and paper in hand, he drew out his designs, capturing his inspiration from natural forms, distorting them into wild flowing patterns. Andy claims, “Anything that was NOT robotic and repetitive” catches and holds his attention. Initially, Andy’s journey in design involved drawing on his skateboards, decorating the ramps the group built, and finally working his way to walls of his environment. Mrs. Johnson, Andy’s art teacher at North Canyon, was a huge influence encouraging him to expand his thinking related to his artistic talents, suggesting he might consider attending art school in San Francisco after graduation. Alas, in the end, the whispers of the desert breeze coaxed Andy to build his reputation from his roots, right here in Phoenix.

Andy went on to attend Arizona State University, taking graphic design and business courses finishing his Bachelors Degree in Business in 2001. After graduation, Andy decided he wanted to spend his life on anything but “studying” something, at least not in the traditional sense of the term. Today, Andy operates from his large spacious studio in the area of Central and Highland, in Phoenix. He has plenty of room to draw, paint, offer classes, and work big. 

Andy Brown is now one of the top “go to” young mural artists in the country. He travels to New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, etc., commissioned to display his talents in the latest trend of “urban renewal and monumental” street art. Downtown Phoenix is home to a number of Andy’s creations, Monarch Theatre, 1st St. and Washington, Westminster Building alley mural, 2nd Ave and Roosevelt, and the South Wall of Fame on Central and Highland.

When asked what his goals are, Andy replies, “I’d like to encourage more people to draw, make art as an outlet, especially, those who are raising families and working hard. Art is very therapeutic. I would like to open my studio for people to come together to draw, create, and exchange ideas.” 

In this spirit, Andy is offering a Summer Art Camp for Kids, ages 8-16, Monday through Thursday, with Friday set aside for an art show, inviting parents and the community.  He is also available to work one-on-one with your family to design a backyard mural, a large canvas, or a series of drawings by you, for you, to display in your hallway or living room.

Artist Andy Brown can be contacted through www.soldierleisure.com. You will find pictures of his mural projects, as well as his clothing line. Andy proudly reports he’s celebrating his 20th year with clothing art. March 18, 2017, Andy is hosting an event showing his murals, paintings, and drawings at his studio, Megaphone Space. To follow Andy’s creative efforts or commission him to “fill your space in a beautiful way”, connect with him on Instagram at @sleisure.

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield at flowingquill@yahoo.com.