The Collector # 13

Deborah Brown / Emitte Hych


As someone who started one of the earliest artist-run galleries in Bushwick in 2010, I showed the work of many artists.  Once I opened my space I started to purchase the work of artists I showed at Storefront, acquire work at benefits and receive pieces generously gifted me by fellow artists.  I display much of this collection in the office of my warehouse studio in East Williamsburg. The accompanying photograph shows some of these artworks hung salon-style.  I feel lucky to be surrounded in my everyday life by the artwork of my peers. I appreciate the pieces for their wonderful qualities and because they remind me of the relationships that engendered these works.

The piece I selected for this conversation is a work by “outsider artist” Emitte Hych (1909-2009).  Mr. Hych spent his first 30 years in rural Mississippi. As a young man he worked as a sharecropper picking cotton. During his forties he moved to the Midwest to live with his sister. One day he started decorating the inside of his house with colorful stencil-painted designs on the walls and polka dots on the ceilings. On the outside he painted old oil-drum lids, putting them on the trees and fences. As to why he began this artistic endeavor he said, “The Lord showed me what to do.”

I bought this painting several years ago at the Outsider Art Fair in New York.  Although the first artwork I purchased was a drawing by Bill Traylor in 1983, I do not own the work of other outsider artists.  All the work in my collection is by contemporary artists from my circle of acquaintances. I knew nothing about Emitte Hych, but I responded viscerally to his work.  I love its direct, alert quality.  The artist has captured the character of this dog, whose personality is as vivid as any human. The graphic execution, unmediated paint application and un-diluted colors drawn from the world of commercial advertisement appealed to me.  I love dogs and they are frequently a subject of my own work. As soon as I saw this work, I knew I wanted it.  The artworks I respond to most strongly engage me at the level of sensation and my fascination continues from there.

Deborah Brown
April 22, 2020


“The Collector” is an ongoing series in which I ask people to talk about a painting or a drawing they own. See other installments here.

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