1956 – 2020
– by Lily Horner
1956 - February 25, 2020
The aollowing is an article from the Baltimore Sun:
Brent Crothers, a prize-winning sculptor who started out working in his family’s plumbing business, died Feb. 25 of kidney failure related to kidney cancer at his home in Creswell in Harford County. He was 64.
“Brent Crothers created such amazing work that is both visually appealing and significantly meaningful,” said retired Baltimore Museum of Art director Doreen Bolger.
Born in Havre de Grace and raised in Perryman, he was the son of Edward Crothers, who had a plumbing business bearing his name, and his wife, Joyce Gahagan. He was a 1973 graduate of Aberdeen High School.
After high school he worked with his father and brothers at Crothers Plumbing, which went by the tagline “Why call others? Call Crothers.” He had a journeyman’s license, did plumbing and drove heavy equipment for the company. He eventually moved into installing solar heating.
Family members said he was raised on a dead-end street, near woods, fields and the Bush River, a setting that informed his love of nature. They said these early experiences would be the basis for his sculptures honoring the environment.
At age 24 he purchased 19 acres on Nova Scotia Road in Creswell near the Stoney Forest. The spot became his sanctuary. He borrowed his father’s equipment, and he, family and friends built a half-mile road and a bridge over a stream.
Mr. Crothers later became an independent contractor with plumbing, electrical and building expertise.
“I purchased 20 acres of undeveloped forest,” he said in a biography. “It was there that I started trusting my intuition and allowed myself to play with the materials of the forest. There I owned the artist in me.”
He initially slept in a camper on his property and had an outdoor shower, one of his early functional sculptures. When December arrived, he sought indoor plumbing and signed up for a course in it at Harford Community College.
“They had a shower in Joppa Hall, and he signed up for a drawing class,” said his wife, Gina Pierleoni. “He found people who were more like him. His teachers told him he was producing the best work they had ever seen there.”
While at MICA, he had a sculpture studio in the former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Mount Royal Station.
He also met his future wife at a gathering at his home.
“A friend from the Institute wanted us to meet, we did, and we connected on a lot of different levels," she said.
Mr. Crothers enlarged his home studio. He raised its ceilings to accommodate his sculpture. He also bought a new wood stove.
“He was a really resourceful guy. He saved everything,” his wife said. "Everything from his former life became the basis for his sculpture. Things destined to become landfill items became the materials for his sculptures. He believed that sculpture is very much about showing relationships between unlikely materials in a new way.”
Mr. Crothers salvaged fallen trees. He collected cedar wood trunks and limbs and bundled them into bundles. These cedar bundles became the basis of sculptures that spoke to his sense of the environment.
“This he achieved by using repurposed materials, often those that would otherwise clutter or even threaten the natural environments they are left in — from cut-down tree trunks and branches and recycled stair treads to rubber hoses and abandoned toilet seats,” said Ms. Bolger, the retired BMA director.
“Many of these [sculptures] were displayed outdoors, in the potentially impacted settings. His moving exhibition at The Baltimore Museum of Art in 2014, when he won the distinguished Baker Artist Award, remains a high point in my time at the museum and a reminder of how a truly gifted artist can keep us focused on the important issues of our time and place. He and his remarkable work will be sorely missed.”
Mr. Crothers wrote, "Two weeks into graduate school, September 11th happened, which textured my two years there. It brought home the fragility of life and made me re-evaluate what it means to be an American. Before that experience, I would have never considered using the peace sign as part of my art work.
Sculptor Brent Crothers has been working professionally for over 30 years from Stoney Forest in Harford County, Maryland where he built his own home and studio. He earned his MFA and BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.
Brent Crothers’ sculpture is featured in many permanent collections including: The Corcoran Museum of Art, The Hechinger Collection, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and The Delaware Art Museum. He was selected as a semi-finalist for The Sondheim Prize in 2010 and 2012. Crothers has also received six Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Awards, most recently in 2017. He was awarded a Baker Artist Award b-grant in 2012 and the Mary Sawyer Baker Prize in 2014. In 2016, Crothers received a Franz and Virginia Bader grant to help finish a piece he has been working on for several years.
Recent solo exhibitions include venues such as: Urban Outfitters Corp. Head Quarters in Philadelphia, PA; Anthropologie’s Gallery at Rockefeller Center, NY, NY; Hillyer Art Space in Washington, DC; Haven Arts in the Bronx, NY; and Duke University in Durham, NC.
Recent group exhibitions include: Baltimore Museum of Art in Baltimore, MD; The Portsmouth Museum in Portsmouth, VA; The Historical Society of Washington in DC; Rowan University Art Gallery, Glassboro in NJ; and The Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, DC.
Don’t we all want to express something about this world we find ourselves living in? I’m not a writer, so what I do to voice my concerns, my dreams, and my questions is to wrestle, rip, stack, bend, wrap, tie, bind, burn, hang, pile, cut, chisel, nail, solder, weave, bolt, drill, beat, and grind materials in such ways to create sculptural forms that have their own stories to tell. These pieces are part of a searching dialogue between me and the world. At the root of this work is a respect for nature and all the materials that surround us. More and more I’m incorporating unappreciated and discarded materials, transforming them into small communities to create forms and giving the materials new life.
In my art I’ve come to believe that there can be no separation between humanitarian, social, political, and environmental issues. We need creative thinking in every aspect of our lives today more than ever.
Brent Crothers: New Work, URBN Outfitters Headquarters, Philadelphia, PA
Brent Crothers: Water Wars, Philadelphia Flower Show, Philadelphia, PA
Facilitated by InLiquid; Curator: Chessia Kelley
Brent Crothers, Anthropologie’s Gallery at Rockefeller Center, New York, NY
Brent Crothers, Hillyer Art Space, Washington, DC
Sculpture 1275: Brent Crothers, 1275 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC
Brent Crothers: 20 Years of Sculpture, Chesapeake Gallery, Harford Com. College, Bel Air, MD
Brent Crothers: Why Not Care?, Haven Arts, Bronx, NY
Brent Crothers: Where Are We Going With This?, Louise Jones Brown Gallery, Duke University, Durham, NC
Brent Crothers: Take Nothing For Granted, Galerie Francoise e.s.f., Baltimore, MD
Brent Crothers: Why Care?, Galerie Francoise e.s.f., Baltimore, MD
Brent Crothers: New Works, Galerie Francoise e.s.f., Baltimore, MD
Brent Crothers: Recent Sculptures, Galerie Francoise e.s.f., Baltimore, MD
Brent Crothers, Mosely Gallery, University of Maryland eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD
Into the Woods, InLiquid at Park Towne Place, Philadelphia, PA
Sculpture in the Glen, InLiquid at the Burches, Gladwyne, PA
Between the Covers: Altered Books in Contemporary Art, Everhart Museum, Scranton, PA
Vanishing Beauty, Courthouse Galleries, Portsmouth Museum, Portsmouth, VA
Baker Artist Award Show for 2014 & 2015, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
Syngery, Eisenhower Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Spatial Translations InLiquid at Drexel University’s Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Centennial Juried Exhibition, Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE
2012 Baker Artist Awards Grantees, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
Structure as Language, Montgomery College, Silver Spring, MD
InLiquid at URBN, Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, PA
Currents: Art and the Environment, Courthouse Galleries, Portsmouth Museum, Portsmouth, VA
Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize Semi-Finalists Exhibition, Decker Gallery, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Baltimore, MD
The Ordinary Expands, Silber Gallery, Goucher College, Baltimore, MD
GAPS, Greater Reston Arts Center, Reston, VA
The Language of Objects, Catholic University, Washington, DC
Porous Borders, The Historical Society Museum of Washington, DC
Crossroads: Determining the Authentic Visual Voice, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ
Bilateral Engagement, Art Museum of The Americas, Washington, DC
American Artists, Thaumaturgist Gallery, Beijing, China
Hunter Gatherer, CCBC Art Gallery, Catonsville, MD
Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize Semi-Finalists Exhibition, Decker Gallery, MICA, Baltimore, MD
Men on Maps, Haven Arts, Bronx NY
Intervene/Activate, The Union Gallery, College MD
Gallery in the Garden, Hawk Mountain, Orwigsburg, PA
Art of the Word, Haven Arts, Bronx, NY
The Art of Barter, Sowebo Art Gallery, Baltimore, MD
Sticks and Stones: The Making of a Sculpture Garden, Devault, PA
War or Peace, Warehouse Gallery, Washington, DC
A Walk in the Woods, Carroll County Arts Council, Westminster, MD
Sculpture at Wildwood, Wildwood Park, Wildwood, PA
Eight From Baltimore, Eleven Eleven Sculpture Space, Washington, DC
Out of Tradition, Delaware Center For Contemporary Art, Wilmington, DE
Snapshot, Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, MD
Sculpture at Evergreen, Baltimore, MD
Juror: Michael Brenson
Sculpture, Grounds For Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ
It’s Sculpture, outdoor exhibition, Arena Stage, Washington, DC
Sculpture on Site, 2-year outdoor exhibition, Harford Community College, Bel Air, MD
Tools As Art: Exploring Metaphor, National Building Museum, Washington, DC
Landscape: An Exhibition of Sculpture, The Art Museum of The Americas, Washington, DC
The Delaware Art Museum Biennial, Wilmington, DE
ArtSites ‘96 Tudor Place, Washington, DC
Sponsored by the International Sculpture Center
16th Annual Invitational Sculpture Exhibition, Montpelier Cultural Arts Center, Laurel, MD
The Book As, Gallery 10, Washington, DC
Sculpture Now, Washington Square, Washington, DC
Curator: Virginia Mecklenberg, National Museum of American Art
Across Borders/Sin Fronteras, The Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, DC
Sculpture Tour 92-93, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Inside The Mid-Atlantic, Outside Tradition, Maryland Hall For The Creative Arts, Annapolis, MD
Sculpture at Liberty Rotunda, International Sculpture Center Conference, Philadelphia, PA
Art In The Atrium, Columbia Square, Washington, DC
Curator: Joshua P. Smith
Mandala, 1 year outdoor installation, Maury Park, Arlington Arts Center, VA
Society, installation, School 33 Art Center, Baltimore, MD
Juror: Martin Puryear
2014 & 2004
Visiting Artist, Harford Community College, Bel Air, MD
Adjunct Sculpture Instructor, University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD
Adjunct Sculpture Instructor, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
Guest lecturer, Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ
2000, 1998, 1992
Visiting Artist, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
Artist workshop, “Organic Form in Space”, Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C.
Artist-in-residence University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD
Visiting Artist, Towson State University, MD
Visiting Artist, Neumann College, Aston, PA
Awards and Honors
Franz and Virginia Bader Grant, Philadelphia, PA
Mary Sawyer Baker Prize, Baltimore, MD
b Grant, Baker Artist Awards, Baltimore, MD
2010 & 2008
Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize Semi-Finalist
2017, 2013, 2011, 2009, 1997 & 1995
Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award
Amalie Rothschild Rinehart Award
Artists’ Fellowship Inc. Grant
The Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE
The Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, DC
Anthropologie, Philadelphia, PA
The Hechinger Collection, Largo, MD
Urban Outfitters, Philadelphia, PA
Michael & Nathalie Beatty, Baltimore, MD
Rinehart School of Sculpture, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Madison, ME