Brian R. Owens BIOGRAPHY
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brian owens at work

Photo taken by Brian R. Owens in 2022. Copyright Status: Public Domain

Selected Collections
Selected Commissions
Selected Exhibitions
Art Periodicals, where Referenced
Art Education
Other Online Listings
Selected Press and Media

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One - page version of the Bio posted below

Owens belongs to a small fraternity of artists who use classical techniques to depict contemporary subject matter. Within this is an even smaller group: Artists that have won highly competitive grants, scholarships and commissions both public and private. And within this, a still smaller group: Artists that can both sculpt and paint.

From Michigan to Florida; from applied scientist to sculptor; Owens has made an improbable journey into the world of art and the continent of his soul. He was born in Detroit, MI in 1958 to Katherine J. Owens, an educator and Carl C. Owens, a freelance illustrator and Staff Artist for the Detroit Board of Education. He grew up in a pleasant lower middle- class neighborhood on Detroits west side. Carl C. Owens became one of Americas first self-employed African American illustrators to contract directly with national corporations such as Ford Motor Company. With his fathers encouragement, Owens held his first 2 man exhibit at the age of 16 at a fine art gallery in Detroit. As a young adult, he set his artwork aside to pursue other interests. Years passed before his need to create art took hold again.

Owens relocated to Florida to work for a defense contractor in 1981. He continued his art education by assisting professional sculptors at their studio foundries where he learned how to cast bronze and continued to develop through private instruction, non-matriculated courses, open studio sessions and workshops. Interest grew into obsession until a mass layoff catalyzed the beginning of his artistic career at the age of about 33.

During the 90's Owens created his first line of limited edition sculpture based on an exploration of his heritage. This was during a decade of unprecedented interest in and sales of art by African Americans, known to many as the "Black Arts Movement" and Owens was represented by galleries in Atlanta and Orlando. His self-styled education included travelling to meet and seek the advise of nationally prominent sculptors. He competed heavily for grants and public art projects resulting in a number of awards, including his first major public art commission for the Corporation for Olympic Development in Atlanta (CODA) in 1996, called the Historic Auburn Avenue Relief Project. This involved creating four bronze relief sculptures of historic figures.

In the early 2000's Owens was cited six times in the Journal of the Portrait Society of America for bronze portraits worthy of example to its members. Owens has won six individual artist grants including the George Sugarman Grant in 2006, a competition that involved thousands of visual artists from many nations. In 2007 he helped found the Florida Sculptors Guild along with founders Amy Wieck and Linda Moore.

Owens is known as a sculptor who works mostly on a commission basis. But a closer look reveals his range as a visual artist, including works in oil, acrylic, pastel and pencil. In 2010 he completed a mural that included 16 portraits for a private client.

In 2011, Owens completed the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Monument that is now a permanent feature of historic St. Augustine, FL. In the fall of 2012, Owens was cited for the fifth time in the Journal of the Portrait Society of America and won the Florida Historical Societys David C. Brotemarkle Award. He completed a life-size bronze of Dr. Arthur Harold Parker for Birmingham Board of Education in 2013. In 2017, Owens completed work for multiple clients including a collaborative sculpture with Richard Bennett for MSU College of Law and a monument to Frankie Muse Freeman for NAACP St. Louis.

During the last decade, Owens interests expanded to include audio podcasting and writing. "Art is not something I do, its who I am", said Owens. "I didnt choose to be an artist, it chose me. William H. Gass predicted my own feelings when he said that people like myself are here to add to the worlds objects and ideas those delineations, carvings and symphonic spells as ought to already be there. To make things whose purpose is contemplation and appreciation".

brian owens at work
Brian R. Owens, Back in the day.
Click for Owens Curriculum Vitae
(PDF file)
Awards and Grants

Portrait Society of America - Member's Only Competition, 2013
"First Merit" Award (Category: Commissioned Portrait in Sculpture)

The 2012 David C. Brotemarkle Award
Awarded by the Florida Historical Society

Creative Capital Foundation - Professional Development Program, 2012
Advanced Artists Workshop

Portrait Society of America - Scholarship to attend the Art of the Portrait
Washington, D.C. - April 23 - 26, 2009

Creative Capital Foundation - Professional Development Program, 2008
Artists Workshop

George Sugarman Foundation Grant, 2006

Volusia County Individual Artist Professional Development Grant, 2006-2007

Florida Artist Enhancement Grant, 2006-2007 (grant no. 07-2186)

Florida Artist Enhancement Grant, 2005-2006 (grant no. 06-2136)
A competitive grant awarded by the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs

New Forms Florida Program grant, 1996

New Forms Florida Program grant, 1994
A competitive grant awarded by the the South Florida Art Center, Miami Beach, Florida and funded by the NEA, Rockefeller and Andy Warhol Foundations. This grant has been discontinued.

Winner - Best of Show, The Louis Mailou Jones juried art exhibit, Museum of African American Art, Tampa, Florida, October-December 1992. Now closed.
Selected Collections

City of St. Louis, Missouri
MSU, Lansing, Michigan
City of Birmingham, Alabama
City of St. Augustine, Florida
Bethune-Cookman College, Daytona Beach, Florida
African American Museum of the Arts, DeLand, Florida
City of Atlanta, Georgia
Volusia County, Florida
Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia
The Dr. Herbert and Dr. Darlene Charles Collection, Atlanta, Georgia
Saginaw Valley State University, Saginaw Valley, Michigan
Dr. Catherine Lowe Collection, West Palm Beach, Florida
J.M. Moran Family Enterprises, Boca Raton, Florida
Selected Commissions

Private commission, bronze, for Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, Detroit, MI, May 2018
Private commission, bronze, for Engle Dental Associates, Naples, FL, May 2018
Public Art, bronze, for NAACP St. Louis Chapter, St. Louis, MO, Nov. 2017
Public Art, bronze & steel, for MSU College of Law, Lansing, MI, Nov. 2017 (in collaboration with Richard Bennett)
Public Art, cold cast, for the Family of former Prime Minister Ptolemy Reid, Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Apr. 2017
Public Art, hyper-real portrait, for Brevard Museum of History and Natural Sciences, Cocoa, FL, Nov. 2016
Public Art, bronze, for Birmingham Board of Education, Birmingham AL, Aug. 2013
Public Art, bronze, for St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Remembrance Project, Inc., May 2011
Public Art, bronze, for Robert W. Saunders Public Library Foundation, Inc., Tampa FL, Feb. 2011
Private commission, bronze, on 10-year exhibit at Lake County Historical Museum, Tavares, FL, Oct. 2007
Public Art, bronze, for Bethune-Cookman College, Daytona Beach, FL, Mar. 2006
Public Art, bronze, for African American Museum of the Arts, DeLand, FL, Oct. 2003
Public Art, bonded bronze, for Volusia County, at DeBary Library, DeBary, FL, Jan. 1999
Public Art, pastel portraits, for African American Museum of the Arts, DeLand, FL, Jan. 1998
Public Art, bronze, Corporation for Olympic Development in Atlanta (CODA), City of Atlanta, GA, Jun. 1996
Public Art, bonded bronze, for Volusia County, at Deltona Regional Library, DeBary, FL, Jan. 1996
Private commissions, for the offices of Dr. Catherine Lowe, West Palm Beach, FL, 1992-1995
Private commission, bronze, for Tangelo Baptist Church, Orlando, FL, Jun. 1993
Public Art, bronze, for Virginia Power Inc., for donation to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, Richmond, VA, Feb. 1993
Selected Exhibitions

Group exhibit, Polasek Museum, Winter Park, Florida, May - July, 2013
Three-man exhibit, Tavares City Hall, Tavares, Florida, Feb. 2006
One-man exhibit, Manatee Community College, Venice, Florida, Feb. 1997
Two-man exhibit, Art League of Daytona Beach, Florida, Apr. 1996
Group exhibit, Palm Beach County Community College, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Feb. 1996
Two-man exhibit, Seminole Community College, Sandford, Florida, Feb.-Mar. 1995
One-man exhibit, by Virginia Power, Inc. (now called Dominion, Inc.), Richmond Omni Hotel, Richmond, VA, Feb. 1995
Juried group exhibit, Orlando City Hall Terrace Gallery, Orlando, Florida, Apr.-May 1994
Two-man exhibit, Black History Museum and Cultural Center, Richmond, VA, Feb.-Apr. 1994
Group exhibit, Orlando City Hall, Terrace Gallery, Orlando, Florida, Jan.-Mar. 1993
Group exhibit, Bethune-Cookman College, H. W. Lee, Jr. Gallery, Daytona Beach, Florida, Jan.-Feb. 1993
Juried group exhibit, Museum of African American Art, Tampa, Florida, Oct.-Dec. 1992 (now closed)
Two-man exhibit, Zora Neale Hurston Museum, Eatonville, Florida, Sep.-Oct. 1992
Two-man exhibit, Mt. Dora Center for the Arts, Mt. Dora, Florida, Feb.-Mar. 1992
Group exhibit, Northwood Institute, West Palm Beach, Florida, Nov.-Dec. 1991
Group exhibit, Palm Beach Arts Council, West Palm Beach, Florida, Nov. 1991
Affiliations and Memberships

Portrait Society of America, Washington, D.C.

Fractured Atlas, New York, N.Y.

Florida Sculptors Guild, Casselberry, Florida
(This is a new guild that Owens is proud to have helped establish.
The Guild was founded in the fall of 2007.)
Selected Periodicals, where Referenced

Adventures in Florida Archaeology - 2016
Premere Issue, 2016, Florida Historical Society Archaeological Institute, the cover and page 2

Journal of the Portrait Society of America
1st Quarter 2014, Volume XVI, Issue No. 62, page 10

Journal of the Portrait Society of America
Volume XIV, Issue No. 55, page 14

Journal of the Portrait Society of America
2nd Quarter 2011, Volume XIII, Issue No. 52, page 15

Journal of the Portrait Society of America
3rd Quarter 2010, Volume XII, Issue No. 49, page 15

Journal of the Portrait Society of America
3rd Quarter 2009, Volume XI, Issue No. 45, page 12

Journal of the Portrait Society of America
1st Quarter 2008, Volume X, Issue No. 39, page 12

Art in America
March 2007, page 206

The International Review of African American Art
"17-1" (Volume 17 Number 1, Year 2000), page 35.
produced by Hampton University Museum, Hampton, VA.

Orlando Arts Magazine
Winter Issue, Feb-March 1999, page 27. Central Florida's Journal of Culture, produced by Orlando Sentinel Communications and United Arts of Central Florida.
Publications, Contributed To

Reflections from ZORA! Celebrating 25 Years of the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities
2014, Florida Historical Society Press
ISBN: 978-1-886104-68-6ISBN: 978-1-886104-68-6

Gus! Magazine
Published by The St. Augustine Record
April 2011

Art Education

Art education developed through private instruction, independent and non-matriculated study, workshops, conferences and professional development programs.
Has studied under Carl C. Owens, Marvin Mattelson, Kerry Dunn and others.
Selected Sites ONLINE, where Referenced by Name

A description of the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Monument and the Story of How It Got Made

An article about Frankie Muse Freeman

Museum Without Walls - by Culture NOW
About the sculpture of Frankie Muse Freeman, including an audio podcast of Owens speaking about the design

An article about the Bronze Sculpture of A. H. Parker

St. Augustine Art Association
This 3-minute mini-biography accompanies a series of audio podcasts created by Owens and the St. Augustine Art Association.

Florida Frontiers TV
Episode 4 - The Windover People.
Owens interview starts about 17 min, 45 sec into the 27 minute program.
The Florida Historical Society

Public Art Archive
An online database featuring the Auburn Avenue Historic Relief Project done by Owens for Atlanta
Selected Press and Media

Click here to visit the Press / Media page.
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