Kingston's online source
for arts & culture listings

brought to you by the
Kingston Arts Council

november 2005


features & events


film & multimedia

literary arts

music & dance

theatre & comedy

visual & fine arts


KAC classifieds


contact/subscribe unsubscribe



In Memoriam



Remembering J. David Brown
by Jim Keirstead

I held J. David Brown’s talent, knowledge, ability and accomplishments - even his ideals - in high regard.

In the sixties, seventies and eighties there was a group of seven emerging male artists in Kingston: Fred Schonberger, Jim Woods, David Holmes, Florent Busschaert, Bob Blenderman, myself and J. David Brown.

Back in the late sixties, Bob Blenderman, Fred Schonberger, J. David Brown and I held a number of street showings. We each would bring eight or ten originals, and display them on hinged pegboard panels I had built. We exhibited at the corner of Princess and Division streets, Motels on Hwy 15, Aunt Lucy’s. We had some success with sales, but mostly had time to get acquainted. Our shows usually ended with us going for a few beers. This was a strongly opinionated group. David and Fred were the most argumentative. We could get Fred (a.k.a “Papaburger”) easily aggravated, so we delighted in antagonizing him. Bob was more congenial and easy-going. These were fun times.

In the 1960’s J. David was much more knowledgeable about art than I, and I deeply respected him. J. David had amazing teaching ability and many adoring students.

I was an OPP after Korea, serving until 1965. I began oil painting in 1958, and started using knives in 1962. J. David and I had some strong discussions. He often told me I should be painting with brushes, not knives. (I’m still mainly painting with knives.) J. David had no mercy for anyone who copied another artist’s work or style. Anyone who thought this was art felt J. David’s disdainful rebuke - and most would steer clear of him thereafter.



Over the next 35 years we took different directions. I exhibited across Canada and the US, and we only met occasionally. These meetings were great. We had faced the same struggle to find time to create better art and still maintain our sales - how to promote and find reliable art dealers. I believe as time went on with our successes, the respect became mutual.

Bob Blenderman and I are the last surviving members of those original seven. Bob and I will miss J. David, such an amazing artist and beloved character. - J.K.




images courtesy of Shannon Brown

Letters ...

Dear Brown Family,

I arrived in Canada at 16 in 1966 to Kingston, which was just the smallest place on the planet compared to my teen jaunts to London while still in England. I was told that when I entered Grade Eleven I could not take art as I had not had it in Grade Ten (go figure!!!) though I had drawn all my life and had it in school in the UK.

In 1967 my Dad (Dr. Edgar Barnett) asked if I wanted to take driver training or life drawing at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre....I chose the art even if it meant getting up early on Saturday mornings.

David Brown was my instructor and I loved that class. I will always remember the freedom of the life drawing from live nude models, drawing my own foot with my eyes shut, different mediums (well charcoal, pencil) - and all these years later really appreciate the whole experience offered to me at such a young age by someone like David.

My husband dragged me kicking and screaming back to Kingston after my two-and-a-half decade absence, and have run into David around town - how nice it was to have such a character still in this town to brighten it up.

I'll miss running into him at Peter's Drugs.

My sympathies to your family, Carolyn Barnett


Thanks to my father, I had the incredible good fortune to meet and often happen upon David for an informal conversation over the years.

Further, I was fortunate enough to have J. David Brown sit with my father and me and have a few of his famous "discussions"....(even though the conversation became quite topical and/or my case, this was more than "ok")... I listened and left his presence.....thinking a mile a minute; challenged creatively; being given a confidence in following my instincts, my passions and visions.

I knew I was a better person for spending that time with him. Those "discussions", although few in number but great in impact, remain with me to this day.

Mark Fluhrer