Review: Pete Brown's 'Blind' at Gallery 924 

****1/2
click to enlarge Pete Brown, "Bat"
  • Pete Brown, "Bat"

The typical gallery or museum experience can prove challenging for those with visual impairment. Recognizing this, and in collaboration with Bosman Industries, Pete Brown created a series of mixed-media paintings that the blind or near-blind can appreciate solely by touch.

“Wonder” shows musical icon Stevie Wonder at his keyboard, ecstatically belting out a tune and playing a keyboard made of plexiglass. Wonder's figure is painted on a wood cut-out, raised over the background of the painting and “dressed” in a shirt made of actual fabric. By touching any part of the work, you can appreciate the varieties of textures of this piece as well as the physical dimensions.

Many of Brown’s subjects have overcome visual challenges: Helen Keller, Monet - along with Daredevil, the blind comic book superhero. If you put on the glasses available at the gallery that mimic a variety of visual impairments, you can experience this work the way a visually-impaired person might. You can also scan a QR code adjacent to each painting a smartphone to access audio descriptions of each work.

One of the most compelling works here (visually and otherwise) is “Bat,” which shows its subject flying above a sweeping rural backdrop, navigating by echolocation. This painting seems to suggest that vision—in both the sensory and artistic senses of the word—isn’t just a visual thing. Through Oct. 26 at Gallery 924

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