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Home > Author > Daniel A. Brown
 
Daniel A. Brown

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Member Since: Dec, 2009

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  Daniel A. Brown           

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A Renaissance Man, quite literally at one point. I am a published writer, have exhibted my paintings and photographs in galleries across the nation and fly a small Cessna. Still can't cook, however!


Background Information

Writing for me has become quite natural, even though it began as a side hobby at a time when photography was my main passion. I never wrote professionally until I attended the Convocation at Auschwitz in 1994, 200 Jews, Buddhists and Christians spending a week at the camp giving their energies to the dead., I wrote about it the next morning after I arrived home and had it published in a variety of small local, national and international journals before it was taken up and published by "Yoga Journal" and "Sojourners". Four years later, an article about the Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage, a year-long walk retracing the roots of American Slavery, was published as the cover feature in "Hampshire Life" magazine. Since then, I have published a monthly op-ed piece in the Greenfield, MA "Recorder" newspaper. I have also written various pieces and the history of the Renaissance Community commune which is featured on the UMass/Amherst Rare Books Collection site of that name. Currently, I am writing what I call a "reincarnational memoir", centered around a Native American outdoor survival camp I co-directed back in the 1980's.

I am an avid reader, historical fiction, like Wouk and Michener, being my main inspirations. I am interested in getting my writing out more and consider this an excellent venue to do so

I was born in New York City in 1950 and lived at the Renaissance Community, the largest and most controversial commune in the Northeast from 1970-1988. I am the unofficial historian of the group, the keeper of its photographic archives and one of the principal narrators in "Free Spirits", the Birth, Life and Loss of a New Age Dream", the documentartu film of Renaissance. From 1989-1999, taught 4-6 grades at Bernardston Elementary School while developing a side-career as a photojournalist with various local, national, and international credits. In 1999, I embarked on a career as a landscape painter with group and solo exhibitions in New York City, Boston, Washington D.C. and Taos New Mexico where I was represented by Art Divas Gallery.  Currently I am mentoring young artists, writing and seeing what the next level of my life will lead me. I am currently married to Lisa Oxboel, a professional organizer and life coach and have one son, Ariel, and a grandson, Eben.

Birth Place
New York, NY USA
Accomplishments

Award for Excellence by the Publishers of American Education, 1999. "For All the Children Who Were Thrown Away": Educational Leadership Magazine, April 1998. About teaching the Holocaust to elementary-aged schoolchildren.

Teacher Excellence Award, Pioneer Valley Regional School District: 1996-1999

Featured Artist of the Month: Art Divas Gallery, Taos, New Mexico, October 2007.

Opening Exhibition: "Coast to Coast: Into the Wild Blue" Foxhall Gallery, Washington D.C. January 17, 2009.

Artist of the Month: May 2009 Liquitex Paint Corporation.

Additional Information

A Lesson in Gratitude Something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving ©2008 Daniel A. Brown Published by the Greenfield Recorder newspaper on Thanksgiving Day 2008. As kids growing up in 1950’s America, our family observed the standard Thanksgiving ritual of going around the table and declaring what we had to be thankful for. Being raised in privilege, my sister and I took everything for granted and couldn’t really think of anything truly humbling. So instead, we mumbled some cliché we probably heard on television and waited for the turkey to be carved. Back then we knew that other children were starving in China and India but had no idea that they were equally hungry right up the street in Harlem and down the road in Appalachia. The concept of gratitude never sunk in until later in life and in a rather unusual manner. During my stint with the Renaissance Community, I was part of a commercial painting crew that remodeled the S. S. Kresge and J. J. Newberry five-and-dimes that inhabited small-town America before they were destroyed by Wal-Mart. While the work was mundane, the method was anything but. We would arrive Saturday afternoon just as the store closed, unroll huge sheets of plastic to cover the long aisle-length counters, set up the spray gun and work non-stop until opening time on Monday morning, a period of 40 straight hours without sleep, fueled by a healthy diet of cigarettes, coffee and Brach’s Kandy Korns. It’s the kind of crazy adventure you cherish in your youth and subsequently bore your grandchildren with. And one of the verities of life is that you can accomplish anything if the music is loud enough. On that Monday morning, however, we found ourselves too understandably exhausted to drive all the way back to Turners Falls so we tried to find a motel to collapse in. But Lake George on a long July 4th holiday weekend offered no such advantage so we did the only thing smart painting contractors could do. We went to the nearest Benjamin Moore paint store and asked the lady behind the counter if she knew a place where we could crash. She responded that we could stay overnight with her and her family which surprised us completely. Here we were, a gang of tired, shaggy hippies, aromatic with sweat and Thin-X, being welcomed into the home of a solid American citizen. But our weariness outweighed our wariness so off we went to her tidy ranch house just outside of town. Upon meeting her husband and kids, part of the mystery of her kindness was explained. Her husband was wheelchair bound; suffering from a degenerative disease that he knew would eventually kill him. Since his infirmity, most of his friends had deserted him, a shock which had taught him the finer points of generosity. Thus, we were graciously invited into his home. After a shower and some blessed hours of sleep, we joined the family for dinner. To my dying day, I’ll never forget the meal we were served. It consisted of Kraft’s macaroni and cheese, Wonder Bread and “cherry” Kool-Aid. Now, normally, I don’t eat food like this. Wonder Bread is bread in name only, all the nutrients being sucked out of it before being baked into some tasteless white glop. Kool-Aid is basically sugar mixed with red dye #2 that causes cancer in mice and the cheese in the macaroni comes from a fluorescent powder that is probably extracted from a nuclear waste dump. All in all, this meal was un-natural, un-organic, and unhealthy. I ate every bite. I did so because the meal was offered to us with the purest of love and to refuse it would have been rudeness tantamount to blasphemy. Had they served a cake baked with rat poison for dessert, I still would have shared it, convinced that the loving energy in which it was offered would have counter-balanced any potential harm. Thirty year later, I am still thankful for this particular meal. Over the recent years, I have joined the Buddhist monks and nuns of our local Peace Pagoda on various pilgrimages around the nation. I noticed that, because they depend on the benevolence of strangers, they aren’t picky about the food they are offered. Thus, I have seen them offer prayers of thanks for meals ranging from a bowl of brown rice to a plate of greasy fried chicken straight from Fry-o-lator Hell. It’s all the same to them and they only express displeasure at some of their more spoiled pilgrims who reject a meal because of what is euphemistically referred to as “food issues”. For those of you outside the loop, “food issues” are manifested by people who won’t eat this or that for a long list of real or imagined health or social issues. Being privileged Americans, they are free to accept and reject what is available to eat to make sure that only the purest, healthiest and fair-traded foods enter their delicate systems. Unfortunately, billions of people in other parts of the world suffer from “food issues” too. If they don’t find something to eat, they and their children starve to death. To me, that’s the ultimate “food issue”. In retrospect, I try to eat a balanced and healthy diet (as long as it includes pizza and coffee). But I also try to stop and remind myself to express gratitude and thanks for the fact that I am eating and don’t suffer either from physical want or the fear of want. There but for the grace of God go all of us in the shoes of those who are hungry and have little on their plates. They don’t have the luxury of choice. We do.



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