Hudson River Museum Presents Frederick J. Brown: A Drawing in Five Parts

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YONKERS, NY, November 18, 2022—Frederick J. Brown (1945–2012) was a pioneering figure in New York City’s art scene of the 1970s and 1980s and developed groundbreaking approaches to abstraction, figurative expressionism, and portraiture. This exhibition features a series of five monumental works on paper titled The Actress: A Drawing in Five Parts, a recent gift to the Museum by American art collector Marilyn Appel. Frederick J. Brown: A Drawing in Five Parts was organized by the Hudson River Museum and will be on view from December 9, 2022 through April 2, 2023.

The series explores the emotive progression of a stage performance by actor Jillian O’Brien. Homing in on Brown’s interests in Black expression, performance, and creativity, this exhibition turns a lens on his unique, experimental, and powerful practice of portraiture. Together, the artworks on view present a visual performance in painting that captures the dynamic spectrum of emotion embedded in the creative process.

Drawing from his African American and Native American ancestry, as well as a breadth of knowledge in art-historical tradition, Brown engaged with American history and music, the urban fabric, religion, and spirituality. Born in Georgia and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Brown divided his time between New York City and Phoenix, Arizona. His loft studio located at 120 Wooster Street in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan became a central gathering place for artists, musicians, writers, dancers, and performance artists. There, he collaborated with jazz musicians like Ornette Coleman and Anthony Braxton, and Abstract Expressionist painter Willem De Kooning, among others.

The exhibition will feature interpretive content and a new essay by American art historian and curator Lowery Stokes Sims. The essay will be published in an accompanying brochure and online on HRM’s website. She states: “Frederick J. Brown is still an overlooked participant in the 1980s phenomenon of Neo Expressionism. I have always admired the vibrancy of Brown’s artistic vision as he brought a variety of approaches in painting and drawings to his long-time project of painting the musicians and singers of jazz history. This series of portraits of Jillian O’Brien provides us with a glimpse of his artistic versatility.”

Masha Turchinsky, HRM’s Director and CEO, stated, “We are honored to share these new acquisitions to our collection by Frederick J. Brown, and especially proud that the exhibition will feature insights on this special series by Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims. I am truly grateful to Marilyn Appel for selecting Hudson River Museum as the new home for these powerful works and for embracing our commitment to increasing the ways in which our community is included and reflected in our collection and institution.”

Frederick James Brown (1945–2012) was a New York City and Arizona–based American artist. In 1988, Brown had a twenty-five year retrospective at the Museum of the People’s Revolution in Beijing, becoming the second American artist to have an exhibition in the People’s Republic of China and the first artist of African descent. Brown’s work is in public and private art collections throughout the world, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Lowery Stokes Sims is a specialist in contemporary art, craft and design. She has served on the education and curatorial staff of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1972–99), as executive director and president The Studio Museum in Harlem (2000–2007), and retired as Curator Emerita from the Museum of Art and Design (2007–15). More recently she has worked as an independent curator and consultant for numerous exhibitions at various institutions, including the Caribbean Cultural Center, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles, Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, N.J., the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Center for Art, Design & Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She was Visiting Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (2018–20) and served as the 2021-22 Kress-Beinecke Professor at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.



Lead sponsorship of the exhibition is provided by DeWayne N. Phillips and Caroline A. Wamsler, PhD.

Exhibitions are made possible by assistance provided by the County of Westchester.

We are deeply grateful to Marilyn Appel for her impactful gift of this series to the Museum’s permanent collection. Special thanks to Terry Joshi for her advocacy on behalf of the Museum.


Related Programs

Virtual Conversation between Lowery Stokes Sims and Bentley Brown
Wednesday, February 1, 7pm
Join noted American art historian, curator, author, and former museum director Lowery Stokes Sims, who contributed a new essay to Frederick J. Brown: A Drawing in Five Parts, and the artist’s son, Bentley Brown, Adjunct Professor of Art History at Fordham University and PhD Fellow, NYU Institute of Fine Arts, in a conversation that delves into artistic practice of Frederick J. Brown. The conversation will be moderated by Masha Turchinsky, Director and CEO.


Drawing Series with Antoinette Legnini: The Face
Saturday, February 4, 1:30–3:30pm
Inspired by Frederick J. Brown: A Drawing in Five Parts and select figural works in Order / Reorder: Experiments with Collections, this program will feature live figure drawing with a focus on facial expression. It is led by artist Antoinette Legnini, best known for her collaborative community project Bronx Faces that pairs stories and experiences of Bronxites with mixed media portraits. She has participated in residencies at the BX Arts Factory, Otis College of Art and Design, and Con Artist Collective, and graduated this year with her MFA in Painting from the NY Academy of Art where she is currently a Fellow. The workshop will feature a live model and provide fine art materials.

Support for this program is provided by Art Bridges.

Frederick J. Brown: Jazz in the Galleries
Sunday, March 5, 1–4pm
Experience Frederick J. Brown’s groundbreaking series The Actress: A Drawing in Five Parts surrounded by jazz music spun by a live DJ in the galleries. This immersive experience is inspired by Brown’s practice of listening to music in his studio as he worked, as well as his collaborations with jazz musicians like Ornette Coleman and Anthony Braxton during the New York Art Renaissance of the 1970s and 1980s.


Image: Frederick J. Brown (American, 1945–2012). The Actress (A Drawing in Five Parts) #2, 1987. Oil and pencil on paper. Gift of Marilyn Appel, 2022 (2022.18.2). © 2022 Frederick J. Brown Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.


Press contact:
Jeana Wunderlich
(914) 963-4550 x240



Hudson River Museum is a preeminent cultural institution in Westchester County and the New York metropolitan area. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River in Yonkers, New York, the HRM’s mission is to engage, inspire, and connect diverse communities through the power of the arts, sciences, and history.

The Museum offers engaging experiences for every age and interest, with an ever-growing collection of American art; dynamic exhibitions that range from notable nineteenth-century paintings to contemporary art installations; Glenview, an 1877 house on the National Register of Historic Places; a state-of-the-art Planetarium; an environmental teaching gallery; and an outdoor Amphitheater. Accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM), the Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting these multidisciplinary offerings, which are complemented by an array of public programs that encourage creative expression, collaboration, and artistic and scientific discovery.

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