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|Thursday, 10 April, 2014|
Derek "No-Sun" Brown painting "Tiger Style" (Alexandria Alvarez photo)
By ALEXANDRIA ALVAREZ
SANTA FE, New Mexico — He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Klamath, and Anishinabe, a son of Sheryl Lynn Slim, and Timothy Brown.
He has one older sister Shaylee Brown, and three younger brothers Nolan and Chandler Brown, and Demar Galloway.
Derek “No-Sun” Brown went from selling T-shirts and CDs at powwows, trying to dodge security, to becoming a professional artist in the business where his artwork is now featured at the Santa Fe Plaza 910 Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
At age 27, Derek Brown has continued his love of making hip hop music and art, but with his dreams set on higher aspirations, Brown has obtained an Associate of Fine Arts Degree, and recently completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts in May 2013 from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA).
Currently, Derek is still attending IAIA to obtain a Business and Entrepreneurship Certificate with plans of expanding his current business: War Medicine Contemporary Art, which was established in 2012.
Derek Brown has been attending the Denver March Powwow for the last five years where he has been selling T-shirts, music, and art prints at a booth he usually splits with long time friend, and fellow hip hop artist Chase Manhattan.
This year their booth seen a lot of success and Derek said he plans to have his own booth next year because as his business War Medicine Contemporary Art expands, he plans to incorporate more into his booth such as T-shirts, prints and music.
But attending Denver March hasn’t been the only venture the young artist has been involved with, during his senior year. Derek had his first major art show at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts located on the Institute of American Indian Arts campus. Next, Derek did an art show at The Autry Museum located in Los Angeles, California November 9-10, 2013 and then featured his work at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona March 1 and 2. But it hasn’t been completely smooth sailing or cost free for the artist.
“They select by a jury art show and it cost about $100 to apply alone. Then on top of that, if you are selected, a booth could cost at least $500, but that’s what professional artist do and that’s how you become recognized. I was surprised to get in at the Heard Museum because it was my first time applying, and I had heard that people usually don’t get in the first time. But I was excited to show that I met all the credentials of a professional artist,” commented Brown.
Brown’s next upcoming project will be to do an art show during the Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Matrix Fine Art Gallery on Thursday, April 25 from 5 to 8 p.m. And then after that he hopes to secure a booth at the Fort Hall Festival, and at the Santa Fe Indian Market, one of the biggest Indian markets of the Southwest.
Brown’s art style is a contemporary and says he enjoys using a lot of bright colors to illustrate subtle metaphors in his artwork by using contemporary and traditional objects.
“A lot of my work is based from my traditional values, but they are often infused with a mixture of hip hop culture,” said Brown.
His choice of medium is using acrylic paint, and before he begins a new painting, Brown says he does a little preparation to help him focus his inspiration.
“First I have to have a clean area, I use my living room at home where there is a sky light so that the light coming in is bright and natural. I then set up my brushes, make sure they are clean, pull out my canvas, easel, and usually set up a tarp on the bottom to protect the floor from paint. If I’m using a reference for a portrait, I pull it up on my flat screen. I have the music going; usually hip hop, instrumentals, or a podcast called Mysterious Universe will be playing,” said Brown.
“The real inspiration to paint is to make statements — I try to paint something that might inspire or uplift someone. But my paintings are: sustainability, adapting, and metamorphing,” continued Brown.
Besides his business and art, Derek Brown said that he plans to make another rap album soon, has several things in the works and collaborations with different artist. His last album dropped nearly four years ago, but Brown has continued doing shows here and there, his last show was last year in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
On Friday, April 25, Brown said he will be part of a rap show during the Gathering of Nations and said he’s looking forward to it since making music is his other passion.
“Art consumes my whole life, if I don’t do it, I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything, it’s my business, my passion, and I want to be able to make a living by traveling doing art shows, selling T-shirts, music and art prints at powwows and eventually start up a gallery where I can incorporate other artists as well. The goal is to establish War Medicine as a company,” said Brown.
But if he’s not making music or art, Brown said that he can be found at the gym, or outdoors where he loves fishing, and is working to get his hunting license in New Mexico where he currently resides. He also loves going to the shooting range and of course loves traveling.
Brown said that he’s proud of the work he does, and said that he has come a long way in the arts. Five of his paintings are currently at the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Event Center and Casino. If people would like to see more of his work, Brown said he can be contacted on Facebook: Derek No-Sun Brown, or they can visit his Facebook page: War Medicine. He also maintains a website at www.warmedicine.com.
“War Medicine in Indigenous Culture is any type of song, herb, prayer, design or even attitude that would guarantee victory in war. In contemporary times indigenous people have lost the need for physical combat and the ‘war’ has shifted to a less tangible plain. We now fight our wars with art and eloquently crafted words. My War Medicine is my art, and through these creations I dare to change stereotypes and negative predispositions of Native Americans. Through these works of art and apparel I present metaphors of survival, power, love, tradition, hope, and energy,” concluded Brown.