Steve Brown was introduced to Northwest Coast art and dance at the age of fifteen. He became a student of Bill Holm’s and worked with Bill for seven years, attending and taking part in potlatches with the Southern Kwakwaka’wakw of Vancouver Island. He also spent a number of years working extensively with the Makah Cultural and Research Center at Neah Bay, Washington. During his time in Neah Bay, Steve carved traditional dugout canoes for the museum exhibits.
One of Steve’s great academic and artistic endeavors was his research into the art of Kadjisdu.axtc who was perhaps the greatest of all Tlingit artists. Kadjisdu.axtc carved the famous Klukwan Whale House poles and the Chief Shakes’ Dogfish House. Steve Brown’s replication of these poles has been pivotal to the understanding of traditional Tlingit art and has provided exquisite poles to be placed on view for the pleasure of tourists and native Alaskans alike.
Aside from monumental sculpture, Steve also works in miniature. His necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry is sought after by numerous collectors of Northwest Coast metalwork. He has a deep and fluid carving style that is particularly distinctive. While not a Native artist, he is considered one of the most important in the “old guard” of contemporary Northwest Coast art.
Steve was the Curator for Northwest Coast Art at the Seattle Art Museum. His books, The Spirit Within, and Native Visions, provide insightful scholarly articles and vivid illustrations of some of the great pieces of Northwest Coast art from the museum’s collections and from private collections around the Northwest. His newest book, Sun Dogs and Eagle Down is a beautiful tribute to Bill Holm, cataloguing his paintings, and illustrating his important influences on Northwest Coast art and culture.