From Landscapes to Raku: The Remarkable Life and Artistic Legacy of Charles Moses Brown from Jacksonville

Charles Moses Brown was a prolific potter and artist born in Mayport, FL in 1904. He moved with his family to Mandarin when he was just three years old, where he remained for the rest of his life. Brown’s artistic journey began with a passion for painting landscapes and still lifes, but he discovered his love for clay in 1961 while taking an art class at the University of Florida. From then on, Brown dedicated his life to pottery and quickly became known for his distinctive raku-fired pieces.

In 1962, at the age of 58, Brown left his job as a bookkeeper and office manager to become a full-time potter. He eschewed the potter’s wheel, preferring to build all of his pots by hand. Brown’s works were unique because he intentionally avoided producing pieces that were too perfect. His handmade pots were patterned with clay stamps, dried seed pods, rocks, and other materials, and his jewelry, wall hangings, and Christmas ornaments were all highly sought after.

Brown’s embrace of the raku method of firing in the early 1960s became his trademark. He pulled pots red-hot from the furnace and placed them in organic matter, often sawdust, to create unique patinas and finishes. One of his most popular series was the Black on Black collection, which was heavily influenced by another Jacksonville artist, Ben’h Usry, in 1972.

Brown’s work was included in many major collections, including the Smithsonian and the Johnson Wax Collection, and numerous museums. Some of his paintings and pottery are displayed at the Mandarin Museum, and the University of North Florida Campus library showcases his work for students to view and study. Brown was one of the original members of the Art Celebration Group, which included other notable regional and Jacksonville artists such as Memphis Wood, Joseph Dodge, Enzo Torcoletti, and Margaret Koscielny. He toured the country during the 1960s-1980s and was featured in major art and craft shows.

Overall, Charles Moses Brown was a talented and dedicated artist who made significant contributions to the world of pottery and art. His work continues to inspire and delight people all over the world today.

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