Interview with Collector Deon Browning
Allow me to re-introduce myself - by way of my newest collector: Deon Browing. Deon came into my circle and instantly claimed a seat, not just any seat, a front-row seat. The portrait pick-up turned into an easy 30-40 minute conversation that felt as if it only consumed seconds. As we stood in the dining room/studio of my home, conversed and head-nodded, ahh ha'd and practically hive-fived it was clear we would be picking this conversation back up in the near future. Onlookers wouldn’t have known if we were making a deal of sorts or conducting a rap cypher, or selling a painting, haha, the vibe was just that dope.
Speaking of cypher, head nods and “ah-ha’s”… the coming months would bring conversations about community, hip-hop, police brutality and spirituality. What I am describing is the kind of connection an artist can only dream to have with a collector, as it is often said, people don’t just buy art, they invest in the artist. So I often find that I am not only selling my work, I’m selling myself, physically in the form of Art and in spirit by way of my beliefs and what I stand for.
So on this brutally hot summer day, I find myself driving past the block in West Philly, where this collector and I, once met, decades ago. Then I was just a toddler being raised by a hard-working father and mother on Allison Street. We explore this history more later in our convseration. Let’s just say this ride to his West Philadelphia office, where he serves the community through his Law Practice felt surreal. To say, we’ve come a long way… just doesn’t go the distance.
In our hood. Here we are. About to meet to discuss Art, Legacy, staying grounded in our community, "buying cars” (insider) and Jay-Z lyrics.
Mood: Let’s Go!
MP: What was your first piece of artwork?
Collector: A print, of someone…. a man with his daughter in his arms. It showed nurturing, and being a dad to girls, it spoke to me. MP: where did you get it from? Collector: I picked it out of a catalog during an event at someones home.
MP: Your introduction to Art? ...
Collector: … It was a logical progression. There were awareness points, think a baby touching his nose… I grew up in a music studio, and always had an innate appreciation for Art. Whether with music artists or visual artists, my feelings toward things of art was not in the way of most. My first emotional connection, was probably when speaking to Lewis and seeing their anniversary painting (a past commission of MP’s). Sometime later, while playing a game of poker where your brother Damon was among the group, our back stories came up in conversation, and I realized that the artist behind the work I had come to admire was my neighbor as I child. I vividly remembered your family, and the night your house caught fire and burned down. I remembered how my grandmother felt towards your mother and father, and I was pretty certain she prayed for the family, which included a then 5yr old Serena, now MsPassionArt. My connection to the art became that much more personal. I knew I wanted something but did not know what. In time, the perfect time, it became clear that I wanted a painting of my Grandmother commissioned.
MP: … oddly enough, the artist selection came before the painting/portrait idea. There is something quite amazing about that to me -
MP: Have you ever been to an Art Museum?
Collector: Yes. I’ve been to art shows and poetry readings. However, at the time I had no real appreciation for the artwork. I was just there to support a friend who as performing.
MP: Here you are now, not only with an appreciation, but the start of a collection. Do you remember what you felt when seeing your first piece of commissioned artwork?
Collector: Relief. There was so much pressure for it to come out right. Things pertaining to my Grandmom is one area where I can really show emotion. I remember walking over, and seeing her, and as soon as the pressure released in that moment I fell in love. This is the closest I will ever get on earth to having her next to me again. This is BIG. The introduction to your art, the relearning of our history, her praying for you, you painting her….it feels like a ‘Full Circle’ moment.
MP: … as BIG as it was to Deon for it to be right, it was for me to get it right.
MP: What would you say is missing from the art world?
Collector: Me. My experience. (this - this energy) West Philly. Us.
Deon Browning went on to commission a second painting, “3 KINGS” honoring his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. That story is for another day and time, maybe a podcast to come. For now, his answer to my question of “What is missing from the art world” has me back front and center, refreshed of my purpose and mission. Speaking of missions and purpose, I’ve heard Mr. Browning say on several occasions, that he doesn’t feel as if he is successful (yet)…. though he happens to leave out the 'yet'. I beg to differ. Deon, I pray, not that you reach success, but that you continue to grow in the success that you have already earned. BrowningLegal Group is a gift to the world and we need you to continue to Preach Brother, Preach (wink-wink)