Art Beyond the Glass: Tony Brown

Tony Brown is a bartender at the The Redwood Bar in downtown Los Angeles. Tony is exhibiting two of his pieces at Art Beyond the Glass II on June 30: a working guitar made from a Dewar’s box, and an interactive painting of Slash that you can play.

How long have you been a bartender at Redwood Bar?
I've been at the Redwood for about 2.5 years.

Did you study art in school?
No formal art education, I don't consider myself an artist, just artistic. Almost everything I own is something I've made or repurposed.

Have you exhibited your work in public before?
I displayed my art once a long time ago. I usually give it away or sell it as I do it, so I never have enough art on hand for an entire show.

What inspired the Dewar’s guitar? Have you played it live somewhere?
The Dewar's guitar was inspired by an old friend of mine in San Diego who started posting Facebook photos of banjos and ukes he was making out of old cigar boxes. I had the scotch box and decided to see if I could make a guitar out of it...and I guess I did. I believe it took about 20 hours of labor, and many hours of staring at the box imagining how a guitar maker would transform it. I probably finished it 3 or 4 months ago and the only public playing display was to my Facebook friends via video.

Photo courtesy of Tony Brown

How did you create the Slash painting?
The Slash painting was inspired out of necessity. I found two guitars that someone had smashed up Pete Townshend-style and discarded. I collected the pieces to make an art project of some kind. After years of taking up space it was make art or toss the stuff, so I came up with this. The cigarette is a sneak a toke pipe, part of the hat is a guitar string, the necklace is real and the guitar knobs are old pieces from my '63 Buick. I made it about a year ago. It came together really quickly, I completed it in one day.

Photo courtesy of Tony Brown

Is rock n roll a prominent theme in your work? Are you a musician?
I don't really hold to any theme in my projects, I’ll just get an idea based on a thought or something I see and put it together and see what happens. I never have a true plan or even an idea what it's going to turn out to be.

I’m not a musician. I "play" 80’s metal for fun and to the dismay of my neighbors. I don't want to be seen as some serious artist, I just do this kind of stuff because this is how my brain works. I build cars, motorcycles and did many years of construction. The art is born out of that. I take the art seriously, but I'm not a serious artist, ya know?