Gallery190 Art Exhibit: "Brave for Beauty" by Cara Brown

Exhibit open from September 10th through November 21st

Artist Statement on Brave for Beauty

I read once that a flower’s entire job is to be alluring. In order for the plant to procreate, it needs to attract critters to spread its pollen from one spot to another. And, to make this happen, the plant has to make the critter’s effort worthwhile. So the plant makes flowers – flowers with eye-catching color, flowers with intoxicating scents – and full of sweet nectar that feeds the critter. It’s a nifty arrangement.

Then there’s us. Though some flowers are edible for humans, for most of us, flowers exist simply to delight us with their color, their scent and their incredibly varied forms. I know I’m not alone in being a sucker for their beauty.

The late poet, philosopher and theologian, John O’Donohue says in “Beauty: The Invisible Embrace”

“The natural innocence and trust that we had in our sensibilities in the Western world have been broken. The innocence is lost. And we know now that anything can happen from one minute to the next. We live in very uncertain times. I believe that now is the time to invoke and awaken beauty because in a sense there is nowhere else left to go.”

I take John O’Donohue’s words as a call to action. Whether or not it’s fashionable to make art based solely on one’s own sense of what’s Beautiful, I’m compelled to do just this. My job as I understand it is to translate colors and shapes, especially when illuminated by sunlight into watercolor paintings. My creative process starts with an encounter with Beauty in the world. Many of these encounters are with flowers, but edible plants – fruits and vegetables, especially in their natural environment – often call to me too. They are solid and lush and fuel our bodies as well as our eyes.

Two of the pieces in this collection are not of my making alone. Kaleidoscope and 35 Shades of Gold are the work of artists in my regular painting groups. We call ourselves the 537 Magnolia Artists. This address in Larkspur is the home of NIZ Realty, my mother’s real estate office – and it is where we gather to paint every Thursday and Friday and on some weekends.

I gave each artist a section of the watercolor paper with a line drawing and the corresponding section of the reference photo. The request was to honor the darks and lights and the shapes, and beyond that to interpret the mini-painting according to their own sensibilities. The original image for Kaleidoscope was a white dahlia. Given that, I gave them free reign to bring in any color they wanted.

Thank you for your curiosity and interest in these paintings. Much more information, including a complete story for each painting, can be found at

Wednesday, November 21, 2018 at 9:00am to 5:00pm

Sandler Neurosciences Center, Suite 190
675 Nelson Rising Lane, San Francisco, CA

Event Type

Exhibit, Arts & Entertainment


School of Medicine


Students, Postdocs, Faculty, Staff, Local Community, Alumni, Patients


Mission Bay




Memory and Aging Center


Contact Info