Location: 500 E. Baker on west entrance of coliseum.


 

JOHN GAITHA BROWNING
1912 - 1992

   JOHN GAITHA BROWNING WAS BORN IN OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI, IN 1912, THE SON OF CLAUDE L. AND ADDIE BUTLER BROWNING.  THE FAMILY MOVED TO BROWNWOOD, TEXAS, WHEN GAITHA WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD.  BROWNING DEVELOPED AN EARLY APTITUDE FOR ART, NATURE, LORE AND THE AMERICAN INDIAN CULTURE. ALTHOUGH BROWNING WAS GOOD AT WHATEVER STUDIES HE PURSUED, HIS SOUL YEARNED FOR THE SKILLS THAT WOULD ENABLE HIM TO CREATE AND RECORD BEAUTY.
    BROWNING BECAME AN EXPECT IN INDIAN LORE AT AN EARLY AGE WHILE ATTENDING PUBLIC SCHOOL IN BROWNWOOD AND BELONGING TO THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA.  HE WOULD STUDY ART IN SAN ANTONIO SEVERAL YEARS UNDER HARRY ANTHONY DEYOUNG AND LATER WOULD SPEND A GREAT DEAL OF TIME FILLING SKETCHBOOKS WITH THE VIBRANT BEAUTY OF NEW MEXICO AND ARIZONA.  WHILE THERE HE WOULD STUDY WITH NUMEROUS SOUTHWESTERN ARTISTS.  FURTHER STUDIES WOULD TAKE HIM TO NEW YORK AND THE BROOKLYN ART INSTITUTE WHERE HE CONTINUED TO STUDY FOR SEVERAL YEARS.  REGARDLESS OF WHERE HE WAS BROWNWOOD WAS ALWAYS HOME.
   BROWNING ATTENDED BROWNWOOD HIGH SCHOOL AND HOWARD PAYNE COLLEGE.  WHEN W.W. II BEGAN IN 1941, HE MADE PLANS TO SERVE.  BROWNING JOINED THE U.S. ARMY AND SERVED UNTIL WAR'S END.  RETURNING TO HIS ART AFTER THE WAR, HE BECAME BEST KNOWN FOR HIS PAINTING OF SOUTHWESTERN SCENES AND INDIAN LIFE.  HE TAUGHT SEVERAL YEARS AT THE FAMOUS ART COLONY OF TAOS, NEW MEXICO, AND TAUGHT AT NUMEROUS WORKSHOPS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
   IN 1962, BROWNING WAS APPROACHED BY THE CITY OF BROWNWOOD TO DO THE BAS-RELIEF ARTWORK THAT THE ARCHITECT FRANK DILL WANTED ON THE PANELS OF THE COLISEUM.  DILL HAD PROPOSED TO PLACE SCULPTURES OF TEXAS SCENES AND ANIMALS ON THE PANELS.  DILL TURNED TO GAITHA BROWNING FOR HELP IN HIS PLAN AND KNEW THAT BROWNING WAS BEST KNOWN FOR HIS OIL PAINTINGS OF SOUTHWESTERN SCENES AND INDIAN LIFE.  IN 1962, BROWNING WAS COMMISSIONED BY THE CITY OF BROWNWOOD TO OVERSEE THE PROJECT AND ASSIST DILL IN GETTING THE SCULPTURE WORK COMPLETED IN THE NEW COLISEUM.  USING HOWARD PAYNE ART STUDENTS AS ASSISTANTS, THE PROJECT WAS COMPLETED IN AUGUST OF 1962.  BROWNING ACTUALLY MISSED THE RAISING OF THE PANELS AS HE HAD RETURNED TO NEW MEXICO TO RESUME HIS PAINTING.
   BROWNING RETURNED TO BROWNWOOD TO LIVE PERMANENTLY IN 1966 AND PURCHASED A HOME ON AUSTIN AVE.  HE ADDED A LARGE STUDIO LATER AND WORKED UNTIL HIS DEATH IN 1992.
   ERECTED BY BROWN COUNTY HISTORICAL COMMISSION AND THE CITY OF BROWNWOOD IN THE YEAR 1991.

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