Members of the Wilmington art community are remembering a dear friend. Robert Brown, a well-known local artist, was found dead in the Cape Fear River Tuesday. The 78-year-old’s cause of death has been ruled an accidental drowning. Now, those who knew him are looking back on the life he led.
Robert Delford Brown left his mark on the artistic world. “He was extraordinary because he chose to live a creative life in a very bottom line culture and society where being an artist is not an easy thing,” said Cameron Art Museum Director Deborah Velders.
His friends, who knew him as Bob, say humor and intelligence filled his work, which he used as his voice for topics such as injustice and social protest. “He was a great believer in collaboration because he felt that was the future,” said Velders. “He would say, ‘people had to help people, they have to work together.’”
Dan Brawley worked on several projects with Brown. “The popular image of an artist is this mythologized, outsider who doesn’t fit in and can’t get along,” Brawley said. “Bob Brown was not one of those people, who for me, made me feel like I could as an artist, I was actually a valuable part, I was something.”
Brown had his first ever museum exhibit in Wilmington, at the Cameron Art Museum in 2007. He moved here shortly after, after decades in New York. “He shared his work everywhere he went, in Italy and New York and he was a pretty important part of the New York art scene for decades,” added Brawley.
Brown’s friends call him a visionary, who in his 78 years, touched artists all over the world. Brown’s friends said there will likely be a memorial service early next week.