Nearly 140 years ago, Grafton Tyler Brown was acclaimed as one of the first professional landscape artists in B.C. He has since become famous as the first Black artist of the American West but in B.C. he was considered by many to be Caucasian.
On Feb. 4, University of Victoria historian and history department chair John Lutz will be joined by visiting writer and art historian Robert Chandler for a free afternoon presentation on Brown’s life and art and also on the story of how Brown’s racial identity shifted throughout his career.
Brown’s few regional paintings which survive today offer vivid windows into the world of 1880s Victoria and B.C. A new exhibition, The Mystery of Grafton Tyler Brown: Race, Art and Landscape in 19th Century British Columbia, shows at Legacy Downtown Jan. 21 to April 1.
As co-founder of the UVic-based Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History project, Lutz is always alert for hints of history “cold cases.”
With many of Brown’s American pieces well-known and showcased in major collections, Lutz continues to wonder why images from B.C. are much rarer, with many unaccounted for. If anyone suspects they’ve got a Brown original, contact email@example.com to help in the hunt.
The curator’s talk is Saturday, Feb. 4 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Legacy Art Gallery Downtown, 630 Yates St. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.