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Alan Brown

Posted by Kate Singleton on

 Where are you from and where do you live currently?

I grew up in a small, quiet town in Maryland, tucked away along the Chesapeake Bay. There was a beach and forests and long fields of grass and corn.  There was an abundance of deer, foxes, eagles, hawks, ospreys, fish of course, and all manner of other wildlife. There weren't a lot of kids so I passed much of my time investigating the shoreline or traipsing in the woods.  Of course, all of this took place in those moments of my childhood that weren't sacrificed to the counterpart deities of many a youth of the 80's: Nintendo and G.I. Joe. Oh and I drew a lot.  It was pretty great.  I was a lucky kid.

I currently live in Bear, DE.  We have a cool house and three cool cats and a cool dog with a nice yard to prance around.  There's even a little barn with a family of vultures living in the top.  We have a bunch of outdoor cats that who are all named after food.  There's Peanut Butter, Prune, Scrapple Nougat, and  Bizarro Nougat.  I'm a bit of a hermit so these dudes are my day to day pals.


What's the story behind your pseudonym medusawolf?

I played a make up your own mythological monster word game with my girlfriend one time and the name stuck in my head.  Around the same time, I started drawing characters, which are basically just my friends and I riding bicycles and wearing different kinds of masks like a kind of urban vigilante team. In real life, somehow all of my friends had these cool nicknames which I used as the characters' code names. Filled with jealousy, I wanted one, too.  And so, there arose Medusawolf.  I still answer to Alan

What kinds of things inspire you visually? 

Ideas come from so many places.  Initially I arrive at things like nature, movies, books, music, other artists, even memories.  Just as often as anything else, I'll get an idea from a shadow across the ceiling at night, or a pattern in a certain fabric, or a trick shape in a grouping of leaves.  It's so much fun the way your eye will carve those little entities out of the normalcy of everyday, normally overlooked things.

Sci-Fi seems to be a big influence. How did you become interested in it?

I think several different avenues draw me to sci-fi and even horror themes. One would be life events like observing a death, an occasion that is familiar to many and that I have been present for twice.  Incidents that have had an enormous hand in molding who I am today, for good and ill.  

There is something beautiful about strange things, I think because these things are new to our senses.  An experience, visual or otherwise, that is unique and can be very haunting and wonderful even when it may evoke uncertainty, pain and fear.  I would say science fiction in large part is about fear and change.  The fear of the unknowable, unpredictable consequences of change.  With science fiction and horror you have to hold on until the end, eyes opened or closed and wait to see if things turn out for the best or no.

The characters in some of paintings are grotesque but also beautiful.  They are monsters and are scary and may do bad things but they are lonely or lost and need things.  They're just like us. 

Tell us about the work in this show.

As a whole the common theme is the idea of a house.  I never really draw buildings, not as a rule, but I never naturally gravitate toward it.  The idea was suggested to me by artist Jennifer Davis and I thought it an interesting challenge.  

In recent years much of what influences me are my memories of playing with toys when I was a kid so, for several of the paintings, I approached them like they were play sets with action figures and moving parts.  Playing with toys is a great way for people to exercise imagination and it has left a lasting effect on the way I think about interactions between people and spaces.

Another thing that has been rattling around in my head has been 80's slasher movies and other B horror movies from that era and their accompanying poster art.  In the "Broken Pieces" painting I kept thinking about an incident where a man broke into the house I was living in when I was home by myself one day.   I had just awoke and thought I heard one of my roommates banging around the house.  I couldn't figure out why he was making so much noise until my bedroom door caved in under some heavy blows!  The guy ran off when he saw me and I called the cops.  We had both been jolted by the idea that we were suddenly in the same house with a complete stranger.  Something I never really thought of before was how truly thin the walls we live inside of are.  It's a real trick to feel safe sometimes.

How would you describe the relationship between nature and the supernatural in your work? 

The supernatural is something that jolts you from your course of daily routine.  The unknown and unexpected things that make us want to explore and analyze the world.  Pay attention to nature for a little while and it will go all out to astonish you.  It can surprise you everyday if you are looking.  When I go to paint a bird or other animal or even a monster I think about what makes them magical to me or how they might feel about the world they live in.

What was your favorite Halloween costume as a kid? 

I think I made it Halloween for myself everyday when I was kid.  I would disguise myself as a character and wait in the kitchen doorway until my mom turned around to guess who I was that day.  I wouldn't answer my mom for anything unless she addressed me by my character name.  The Lone Ranger, Han Solo, Superman, you name it.  I have much stronger, fonder memories of those costumes than actual Halloween ones.  Probably because I made them and turned it into a game.  


What can't you live without?

If my hands fell off I think I would miss those a great deal because I'd never be able to draw again.  A couple of years ago I wrecked my bicycle and busted up my drawing hand pretty bad and was so scared that I wouldn't be able to use it correctly anymore.  I can't make a fist and I drop my brush sometimes these days but for the most part things work out.

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