School of Humanities Complex


Event Detail


Bridget Cooks' "Grafton Tyler Brown: Exploring California" exhibit opens this Saturday at the Pasadena Museum of Art California art.

June 17, 2018–October 7, 2018

Department: Art History

Date and Time: June 16, 2018 - October 7, 2018 | 8:00 AM-8:00 AM

Event Location: Pasadena Museum of Art California art

Event Details

Grafton Tyler Brown (1841-1918) was a painter, graphic designer, and lithographer in the 19th century. A talented artist and entrepreneur, Brown was the only documented African American in his field in the western United States at the time.

Exact details on how Brown first encountered lithography are unknown. However, it’s possible that he discovered lithography as a teenager by working in Peter S. Duval’s print shop in Philadelphia. Duval employed lithographer, Charles Conrad Kuchel who moved to California in 1853. In 1865, Brown founded his first lithography business in San Francisco, where he served the emerging business communities in the area, designing stock certificates for a wide variety of companies ranging from ice to mining corporations, as well as admission tickets, maps, sheet music, advertisements, and billheads.

Later in life, Brown began to make his living as a painter, selling original oil landscape paintings as he traveled further north. While his depictions of the West were well received, the vast majority of Brown’s artistic output is in the medium of lithography. These commercial works were instrumental in creating images of new cities, businesses, and land prospects in the West. His artistic skill and creative efforts can be credited with successfully promoting Western expansion and development. This is an important story rarely told and not widely known.

Grafton Tyler Brown: Exploring California will include approximately 45 paintings, prints, and objects from Brown’s oeuvre, including a breadth of imagery detailing the early development of California and the West.

Grafton Tyler Brown: Exploring California is organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art and curated by Bridget R. Cooks Ph.D.. The exhibition is supported by the PMCA Board of Directors, PMCA Ambassador Circle, and the California Visionary Fund.