Robert W. Brown was a prolific Los Angeles visual artist with a vast range of talents: a print maker, studio glass artist, professor of art, ceramicist, figure artist; there are few art forms he didn’t delve into, and he was generally a master technician at each.
Brown completed Harbor Theme sometime in 1954 or 1955. He rarely dated his work, but a photo in the Herald Examiner’s Pictorial Living section on January 30, 1955 confirms it was completed by January 1955. Sometime that year, the Beverly Hilton hung the mural in their spanking new Wilshire Boulevard hotel designed by Welton Becket.
Harbor Theme is undoubtedly Brown’s most important serigraph. The artist used 149 screens and 25 colors, an accomplishment more astonishing considering he created his screens with the time-consuming tusche-and-glue method. The number of pulls, given today’s (easier) photographic method of creating silk screens, is nearly unheard of.
Of the original edition of 50 sets of the prints, this artist’s proof found in Brown’s studio is the only known remaining copy. One of the work’s six sections is missing — a fish on a plate, symbolizing the bounty of the harbor.
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- For more on the Becket family, read: My date with Julius Shulman