Postcards from a pandemic: City artist draws his way through COVID-19

  • Mark Brown works on one of his Pandemic Postcards at his home in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Some of the Pandemic Postcards made by Mark Brown in the window of the LOCAL Gallery on Cottage Street in Easthampton.  STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Mark Brown works on one of his Pandemic Postcards at his home in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Mark Brown works on one of his Pandemic Postcards at his home in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/2/2020 11:05:36 AM
Modified: 7/2/2020 11:05:26 AM

EASTHAMPTON — On March 4, Mark Brown and his wife, Susan Boss, artistic partners who have made Easthampton their home for more than 30 years, left the city and drove to south Georgia, where Brown was raised.

The couple arrived at their destination on March 9, and when they got there the world was a different place.

“When we got out of the car, we were in the middle of a pandemic,” she said.

Boss said her husband’s response was “to draw his way through it,” and the results can now be seen on the couple’s website, bossbrownart.com, in the form of 60 “Pandemic Postcards,” which can be downloaded for free. Most of the cards are also being displayed in the window of 40 Cottage St.

“Our idea was to share these images with everybody who wanted them for free,” Brown said. “They’re an instrument of communication once you write on them.”

Images from the cards, all of which are in black and white, include a truck labeled “Interstate Commerce” hauling COVID-19 viruses, lungs personified as conjoined twins, and a leg shackled by a ball and chain, with the ball being the COVID-19 virus.

“Kind of the lockdown image there,” Brown said.

There are also images of people with giant pill heads, which Brown said represent a vaccine for COVID-19, and of people wearing masks.

“I don’t really draw from life,” Brown said. “The images are all from my imagination.”

He said that “on a good day,” he has something of a direct link between his imagination and his hand.

Boss said the couple made the decision to distribute the images for free because, “It seemed immoral to make a profit from someone else’s misery.”

Brown is continuing to draw the postcards and may sell the originals sometime in the future. Although the couple does not have a count of how many times the postcards have been downloaded, Boss said that their friends love them.

Boss and Brown moved to Easthampton in 1983 and have been professional artists for decades. The pair collaborated on the creation of artistic clocks, while Brown made robot sculptures and Boss did fabric art work for 18 years. In 2017, the couple ceased making the clocks and robots and shifted gears.

“Mark and I have a history of deliberate reinvention,” Boss said.

In addition to the Pandemic Postcards,  Brown is now making sculptures of giant heads, and he has started making outdoor sculptures as well. Boss, meanwhile,  is  creating mandalas and continuing to produce fabric art. She also blogs about the couple’s process at bossbrownart.com/index.php/blog.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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