James Brown art exhibit debuts

“I don’t mind making waves,” Salida artist James Brown said over coffee recently. His upcoming show at Eye Candy Art and Treasure on Friday, Oct. 27, could do just that. The show, titled Au Naturale, features nudes in mixed media collage with reflective aluminum tape used to “accentuate nipples and pubic hair.” The pieces will be titled with human names, like Delilah, Lily and Katlyn. In each, Brown juxtaposes a nude human form against imagery from comic books, newspapers and corporate logos. “Media is a part of our world so much now, it’s impossible to ignore. I’m attracted to the contrast  a nude body on top of what pushes nude bodies.”

The idea of using media with his nudes dates back to his previous career in advertising. While majoring in advertising at the University of Colorado Boulder, he took journalism ethics classes as part of his major and learned about the code of ethics that are critical to the profession. He said, unfortunately these days most media outlets apply a filter according to their ideals. Brown would like to “remove all the filters.” He believes comparison and competition, two things that have increased as a result of media saturation, are damaging to humanity.

“People are having a hard time adjusting to global connectivity. It’s changed us. I think the media has a power to bring us all together, but we haven’t figured it out. We’re still fighting wars and shooting people in Las Vegas.”

Brown hopes his art will start a dialogue about nudity and its sometimes negative perception in America. “Personally, I hope people walk away realizing now natural and acceptable the nude body is. Our culture still has a gigantic stigma around nudity. The naked body isn’t dirty, and nudity doesn’t have to mean sex, there’s a whole other part. I’d like people to remember that we’re made of flesh and bones; we get disconnected from that. We’re too busy keeping up with everybody else.”

Art has been a side project throughout Brown’s life, but he only started showing his work after moving to Salida. He first moved to Salida in 1982, but he left and returned three different times. Brown is probably best known for his memorable, contest-winning Halloween costumes. He said his costume this year is yet to be announced.

Brown’s first art show, four or five years ago, was with fellow Salida artist Mariah Sutherland at Little Cambodia. He’s also shown 3-D work at Wood’s High Mountain Distillery and both of the Rock and Roll art shows at Eye Candy.

Nikki Manes, Eye Candy owner, has been encouraging Brown to have a solo show. Brown appreciates Manes’ support. Otherwise, he likely wouldn’t be showing, he said.

While being a full-time artist has been a longtime dream, Brown has always had other careers and jobs. His most recent is working as a subcontractor.

“What I’d like to do is make a living selling art like everyone else in Salida. But I’ll never stop using my tools. I’m glad I know how to build a house.”

Brown rents a room from artist Alison Manthey and they have been renovating a building on the property to convert into a studio. The Dodge Street Alley Project is slated to open in late December.

The opening reception for “Au Naturale” will be 4-8 p.m. Oct. 27 at Eye Candy,118 N. F St, Salida.

“I’m outing something very natural against something very unnatural. God, I have a cause  jesus, that’s problematic. James Brown has a conscious. When did that happen?”