Artist’s Bio: Yakime Akelá Brown
Yakime Akelá Brown was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up in a multicultural community, he was exposed to art and its many facets of expression. At an early age his mother endeavored to instill in he and his siblings diversity of culture and an appreciation of the arts. “Every weekend she would take us to museums and art galleries. It was a part of our upbringing,” says Yakime.
As a youth Yakime was fond of drawing and, as he grew older, would experiment with spray paints, charcoals, pastels, inks and acrylic paints. Family and friends often noted that Yakime had talent, but it was not until he reached his late 30’s that he decided to capitalize on his love of art and share his talent on a professional level.
Yakime has used art as his personal therapy. In speaking about the impact that art has had on his life Yakime says, “Painting has such a cathartic effect on me. Whatever happiness, stress, frustration, disappointment, or any other emotion I may be feeling at the time or that may be weighing on my mind, I re-direct that energy to the canvas.”
Yakime, who has had no formal art training, has been painting professionally for about three years. In the summer of 2009 one of his early works, a 48” x 60” acrylic on canvas entitled ‘Untitled III,’ received honorable mention in an event judged by late Delaware artist Edward L. Loper, Sr., whose body of work has garnered regional and worldwide acclaim. This recognition was the impetus that gave Yakime the confidence to further pursue other avenues with which to have his paintings introduced to a wider audience. Yakime subsequently had the first solo exhibition of his works in May of 2010 at the now defunct ‘The Artist Haven Gallery’ in Delaware City, Delaware. Since then, Yakime’s work has been featured in Phosphorescence magazine, Artist Portfolio Digital Magazine (Issue 4) and he has exhibited his paintings at a number of high profile galleries and events. He has been quite busy promoting his work from Delaware to New York and beyond. His work has been acquired by a number of private collectors, law firms and other secular institutions.
Within the last three years, Yakime has donated a number of paintings that have raised thousands of dollars towards AIDS/HIV and Cancer research and awareness programs in the state of Delaware. Most recently, Yakime donated a painting to the A.I. DuPont / Nemours Children’s Hospital for their new facility that will be dedicated this year. Yakime provides mentoring and professional coaching to at risk youth and aspiring young professionals. He monthly volunteers time towards community service.
Yakime’s paintings embody his New York City upbringing; full of vibrancy, persistent motion and diversity. His style can be described as abstract and occasionally representational, colorful, eclectic, moody, and textural. An art blogger/critic who attended one of Yakime’s showings described his work as “a profusion of color and strong brush & palette strokes.” She further wrote, “More than once I sneaked over to touch a piece, so I could feel the energy he created.”
Yakime is quite fond of acrylics because of the medium’s almost endless range of application and prefers to work with larger canvases that, in his words, “enable me to release my creative energies.” He is constantly experimenting with new techniques and approaches to his art and absolutely refuses to be restricted to one style or image, preferring instead to be known for his wide range of enduring works that speak to a broad spectrum of tastes and perspectives.
People often ask me what I was thinking of or what influenced me when I created a particular piece. Being a DJ for over 26 years and being exposed to many styles and genres of music growing up, it plays such a big role in my life. As such, music is also incorporated into my creative process. Depending on my mood and what’s going on in my head at the time, I like to have in the background deep house, drum & bass and jazz. If I’m in a more contemplative mood, I will opt for no music at all. This allows for a more immersive approach. Either way, painting has such a cathartic effect on me. Whatever happiness, stress, frustration, disappointment, or any other emotion I may be feeling at the time or that may be weighing on my mind, I re-direct that energy to the canvas. It is a very intimate and personal process that is deeply ingrained in my personality. Along with various brushes, I typically use a variety of palette knives and/or other implements when I create. The combination of vibrant color and texture has always been very appealing to me. It has been proven that color has the power to trigger both positive and negative emotions, and who can deny that touch is one of our most powerful senses? Now while I don’t intentionally set out to work on a piece with the thought of making someone feel this way or that way, I do sometimes take these things into consideration at progressive stages of the creative process.
One of the most frustrating things for me as an artist is the inability to always be able to capture the truly textural elements of my pieces photographically. The raised strokes, bumps, ridges, etchings, jagged knife cuts and so forth are quite allusive and often absent in a photo image. It turns into one of those situations where you really have to see my works in person in order to get the full impact and dimensionality of my pieces. I want people to not only see my work; I want them to be able to feel every brush stroke and every swipe of the knife. I want it to be for them a very tactile and emotional experience. When everything is said and done if someone sees my work and it evokes a memory from their past or it makes them smile or it conjures up some other emotion, it is quite humbling and gives me an indescribable high. An art blogger/critic who attended one of my showings described my work as “a profusion of color and strong brush & palette strokes.” She further wrote, “More than once I sneaked over to touch a piece, so I could feel the energy he created.” When I read that I thought to myself, o.k. she gets it. Many people don’t, but then again art is so subjective. Either way it’s all good.
It drives me absolutely insane when people over-analyze art. I know that for some that is quite a controversial statement. Nevertheless, we all are entitled to our own opinions, right? To me it’s really a simple matter. Art is subjective; you, as an individual, either love or can appreciate a painting, sculpture, photograph or whatever or you do not. That’s it, really. I believe it is a matter of personal preference/taste, similar to your liking vanilla and me liking chocolate. I know that when some hardcore art lovers and even artists themselves talk shop, it can really become a heated debate. Call me dense, but I personally never understood that. I’m not going to beat you over the head because you lean heavily towards the traditionalist style and approach to art yet I prefer a more contemporary, modernistic style and approach. Style is defined as ‘an individual’s characteristic attitudes and taste as expressed or indicated in his/her way of life.’ Again, to each is own or, like my mom always says, “If you like it, I love it.”
The DJ: Yakime Akelá Brown AKA “The Architect”
In addition to painting, I have been a DJ for 27 years and have, throughout the years, spun at a number of New York clubs and hot spots, lounges, celebrity events, basement parties and so forth. I love all genres and styles of music such as Disco, R&B, soul classics, hip hop, freestyle, lounge, Drum & Bass and Techno/Hardcore, but I have a very strong love and passion for Deep & Soulful House Music.
I was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and I grew up listening to DJs Frankie Crocker, Larry Levan, The Latin Rascals, Louie Vega, Tony Humphries, Timmy Regisford, DJ Disciple, Todd Terry, David Morales, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl and Merlin Bobb, just to name a few. I had amassed an absolutely comprehensive music catalog (reel to reels, cassettes, records and CDs) but in the early 90’s I had a huge house fire and lost everything. As such, over the years I have been slowly but surely picking up vinyl gems here and there, recapturing the essence of my youth and memories of when life was all about hitting the clubs with my friends and partying until the wee hours of the morning. Those of you in the know can remember a time when we were instructed to “dress to sweat!” So all you rocked to the club was a dope T-shirt (remember the Batman and Volkswagon emblems?), some Girbaud jeans, and your Doc Martens! If you’ve ever been to Nell’s, Club Zanzibar, The Choice, any of the Wild Pitch or House Nation parties, The Sound Factory Bar, or the Shelter then YOU know what I’m talking about!