“He was a beloved friend.”
That's what Marcos Cherlo, a well-known handler and preparer in the art community, remembers about Raymond Brown. “He was always excited to help people with their art and was open to playing music in new ways. He was always looking forward to new experiences.”
This past Monday, Brown was working alongside fellow artists Jonathan “Pucho” Olsen and Douglas “Hoxxoh” Hoekzema, creating a giant mural at the Hyde Resort & Residences Hollywood. In a moment of confusion, set jarringly against the cheery eye of Hallandale Beach’s beach-ball water tower, a section of scaffolding collapsed. Olsen and Hoekzema were left dangling, injured, and covered in paint. Forty feet below lay Raymond Brown.
His death sent ripples of grief throughout Miami's creative community, as fellow artists and musicians shared the news in disbelief, recalling memories of a giving, loyal, and hard-working man.
Brown, originally from New Jersey, was an unselfish friend and a dedicated and meticulous art professional. An employee of Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) since its opening in 2013, Brown was a diligent and well-liked member of the art museum, as well as a trusted and dependable man who gave his all to art and music projects.
Brown performed in the trio Water Bed City at last summer's "Thatcher's Music Club" at Swampspace Gallery.
Photo by Monica McGivern
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Like many visual artists in South Florida, Brown was also a musician. “There aren’t many people in Miami with whom I connect musically,” says David Brieske, a visual artist and experimental musician under the name Fsik Huvnx. He says he understands the loss for both communities. “He was one of the few.”
The art community has responded in full, with PAMM director Franklin Sirmans, in a statement, calling Brown "a beloved core member of our art-handling prep team" and "a talented artist and musician with a great attitude." The gallery Nina Johnson has postponed artist Bhakti Baxter's solo show opening "out of respect for the loss of a dear friend and invaluable member of the artist community.”
With many reeling from the sudden tragedy, it has been difficult to put things into perspective. The last time this writer saw Ray, he was at Cherlo’s shop, trying to modify the faceplate of a guitar. As Cherlo says: “[He] touched many people’s lives in different ways, but he has left a hole in the Miami art community.”