Born in Utah, Ree Brown (1900 – 2014) worked for a petroleum company in Seattle, Washington and San Mateo, California, until the late 1960’s when he decided to return to Seattle and retire. Along with his partner, artist Jay Steensma, Ree scoured western Washington for antiques and then “peddled what we could, but there really wasn’t much money in it.” They were fixtures in the avant-garde art scene in Seattle from the 1970s till Jay’s death in 1995, and Ree for twenty more years after that.
He was self-taught. In the mid-1970‘s Ree began to draw, and then paint and sculpt, making mostly small portraits of birds, cats, and people – pictures of “no one in particular.” Ree painted his delicate paintings onto scraps of paper, cardboard, bits of matting, brown paper bags, and just about anything else that will hold paint. “I was always interested in art,” says Ree.
In the late 1980s, Ree started to show in Seattle with MIA Gallery, then at Garde Rail Gallery and most recently at Vermillion. Ree is also included in “20th Century American Folk, Self-Taught, and Outsider Art” by Betty-Carol Sellen and also featured in several documentaries about outsider art.
Ree Brown died Monday, February 10, 2014 after a long battle with cancer. He was 87.