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Artwork of the next generation

Late Sequim-area artist and Peninsula College art teacher Robert Brown went beyond teaching his students technique and style.

"He taught how to market the work, how to copyright it and sell it," explained Laurie Tanguay of her late husband.

Brown even held an art show for his students in 2003 at Hurricane Coffee Co. because he felt so strongly about the need to put artwork "out there."

Brown's death last April inspired Tanguay to continue his legacy. Although a busy woman - she runs two companies, LoBo Designs and Carlsborg Business Services, from her Carlsborg office - Tanguay joined forces with the Sequim Museum and Arts Center and Peninsula College to create an exhibit.

Sixty-four of the 270 students Brown taught contributed 130 pieces to "Inspired by Robert Brown," the latest exhibit at the Museum and Arts Center.

"A lot of the students didn't feel confident enough to submit a piece," Tanguay said. "I think that says a lot about the courage of the ones that did."

According to Tanguay, throughout Brown's classes through Peninsula College, "he taught people ranging in age from 20 to 90, from Port Angeles to Port Townsend and even a couple from Seattle."

The pieces in the exhibit range as far artistically as the artists who created them.

"There's everything from landscapes and seascapes to abstracts," Tanguay explained. "Some people did collage or oil or watercolor or mixed media."

Although many of the students are not professional artists, Tanguay said she was stunned when she saw the pieces together.

"(It's) a student art show, but I couldn't believe the caliber of the work," she said as she sat in her office, surrounded by Brown's framed paintings. "It's amazing."

Museum and Arts Center director Katherine Vollenweider calls the exhibit "bittersweet."

"This is the first time on exhibit for many of these talented people," she said in a statement. "It speaks to an especially wonderful legacy that Robert Brown has engendered among his students."

Student Ryoko Toyama said she was especially close to Brown. After he informed all his students, including Toyama, of his terminal illness, she painted "A Vessel Left."

"It was as if he left the vessel," Toyama explained. "I wanted to depict the beautiful world he left for us."

Toyama then asked Tanguay if she thought it would be appropriate to show Brown the piece.

"(Tanguay) said 'I know what you are painting and I like it,'" Toyama said. "I showed it to Robert and he was happy. Some people are not afraid of facing death."

True to Brown's dedication to making sure his students knew how to market their pieces, many, though not all, of the pieces exhibited at the Museum and Arts Center are for sale, and Tanguay said the artist gets 100 percent of the profit.

"Bob and I really want artists to succeed," she said. Along the same thread, Tanguay is planning to open a third business in Carlsborg - a studio-gallery-workshop for artists to display and sell their work that will open in March next to her current businesses.

The main idea behind the exhibit, said Tanguay, was to allow Brown's previous students to become more comfortable with themselves as artists.

"It's a good way for these artists to gain confidence," Tanguay explained. "And that's really what Bob taught."

Toyama said she has gained that confidence not only from the show but also from Brown's own courage until the end.

"He had one suggestion for "A Vessel Left," she said. "He said, 'Add red. It's the color of life.' I have good memories of him."

The work of the protégées

What: "Inspired by Robert Brown," 130 pieces from 64 students of late Sequim artist Robert Brown

When: Through Feb. 28

Where: Sequim Museum and Arts Center, 175 W. Cedar St.

Contact: 683-8110 or www.sequimmusuem.org.





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