Exhibit featuring local artist’s black and white portraits opens in downtown Macon

Artist Caleb Brown’s exhibit “Enigma” opens Friday at the Macon Arts Alliance gallery Friday evening.

Credit: The Telegraph

Combined ShapeCaption
Artist Caleb Brown’s exhibit “Enigma” opens Friday at the Macon Arts Alliance gallery Friday evening.

Credit: The Telegraph

Macon artist and former Mercer football player Caleb Brown is opening a new exhibit titled “Enigma” downtown Friday at Macon Arts Alliance.

Brown’s new exhibit, which includes various portraits of iconic figures in a grayscale color scheme, opens Friday at the Macon Arts Alliance Gallery with an opening reception from 4-7 p.m. The show runs until Aug. 26 and is open within the hours of the gallery.

Brown said the name “Enigma” reflects both the subjects in his paintings and himself.

“I realized that a lot of the subjects I’ve been painting up to that moment, people’s opinions of them can be different, they don’t agree. There’s various ways that you can look at these people,” Brown said on developing the exhibit’s theme. “Because the subjects are so different at some points, that then creates this idea that maybe Caleb, too, is an enigma.”

Figures in the paintings include John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, The Joker, and Nick Saban among others. There are 12 paintings, each showing a different and often divisive subject that represents a piece of Brown.

From politicians to comic book characters, Brown said the subjects represent both his personality and the complex world of polarization he lives in.

“Anyone who knows me will not be surprised by the subjects... I like all these things, but it’s like, ‘are you into politics, or comics?’ But I’m into all of those things,” he said. “And the shades of gray… I think we got a little lost on that over time. Some went real awry, and now everybody’s just going to their corners.”

Football and painting 101

Brown’s journey to become an artist reflects that myriad of personality and his worldview. The Fayetteville native’s football passion brought him to Macon and Mercer, where he scored eight touchdowns for the Bears in 2013 to help the team set an NCAA record for wins by a first-year program.

Brown pursued a career in physical therapy, but it wasn’t clicking the way he wanted.

“I went to my physical therapy clinic sessions for volunteer hours, and I remember I used to be very unfulfilled,” Brown said.

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That was when an art class turned his career upside down. The class was Painting 101, and it took him out of his comfort zone and into a new space, even while he kept working towards his goal of physical therapy work.

“At the same time as that, I was learning to paint and I’d be up till 4 a.m. painting,” Brown said. “So I thought, ‘okay, this is the energy that life should have.’”

Brown credits his painting professor Eric O’ Dell and pastor Dominic Johnson with giving him the final push towards art. Once the big commissions started rolling in, he was all in.

“I’ve had commissions from Jimmy Carter, a lot of NFL players, the quarterback at Alabama, Bryce Young, lots of people. My first was in 2016 when I painted for Migos,” Brown said. “That was all really cool.”

Activism and art

Brown has also become an activist in Macon, giving TedTalks in the area and participating in Macon’s Black Lives Matter March during the summer of 2020. That side of him makes an appearance in his artwork as well.

“That does go into this show, because I’m talking about Enigma and this idea that life isn’t so finite or just simple,” Brown said. “That idea of just accepting that life can be a little enigmatic, that good people can be bad and bad people can be good, is very important to how I live my life now.”

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Above all, Brown said the exhibit should tell viewers that it’s okay if the puzzle pieces don’t always fit together.

“I do think that the idea of enigma for me was just another journey of acceptance. I’ve learned that the route to peace is when I quit trying to make the waves stop,” Brown said. “I hope that the people that see this work and get a chance to see the story can also understand that life with that perspective is a life well-lived.”

After a tumultuous trek to a career as an artist, “Enigma” is Brown’s first solo exhibition. The paintings are for sale for the duration of the exhibit.


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Credit: The Telegraph

Credit: The Telegraph

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