Serenity by the Creek
In the American South today there is a tremendous movement towards authenticity and a local sense of self. It is reflected in the food, political conversation, architecture and art. The return of southern born individuals to the south to live and work is very significant and many of the hackneyed assumptions of what it means to be southern are vaporizing, being replaced with a delightful understanding of what it means to own your past, be present in the wonderment of the here and now, and understand the possibilities of your future.
Roger Dale Brown epitomizes the southern ethos: He is kind, hard working, and spiritually aware and as genuine a human being as you would ever want to meet. His paintings reveal his reverence for the places of his birth, childhood, adulthood. He understands and is able to reveal the southern landscape like no other painter I have ever seen. I believe it is his deep roots in the culture of his home, his landscape.
Serenity by the Creek is a classic example of a painter not only profoundly understanding what he is painting, but unfolding it for the viewer in a way that allows an intimacy and experience that goes far beyond the two-dimensional canvas. When you stand in front of Serenity by the Creek, it is as if you could walk up the stream, throw a line out for a fat trout, hear the insect hum, birds trill, creatures rustle. It is obviously a compilation of decades in the woods of the southeast. Giant forests populated by Sycamores, oaks, hickories, beech, hackberries have been the backdrop for Roger’s work for most of his life.
As population pressures and climate change effect these forests, the work of Brown and other landscape painters throughout the southeast become only one of bringing great joy the owners of the works, but a chronicler or a time and place which is being dramatically altered and exceedingly rare. Leiper’s Creek, where Roger painted the studies for Serenity by the Creek was profoundly changed in the recent Nashville floods. The giant old growth trees he so lovingly rendered are no more, except in Roger’s work, his studies and his mind’s eye.
When I stand in front of Serenity by the Creek I am ever so conscious of the need we all have for wild places and the intrinsic drama of a great southern forest, its sacredness and quiet dignity. They are the holy places, places that calm our souls, return us to sanity and give us understanding of the greatness revealed before us.