Since the first time I saw Millie Brown perform I’ve felt a familiar yet rare electricity run through me – she is quite simply one of most fiercely original, talented, and authentic artists to come along in decades. Best known for her non-traditional performance based method of painting from the inside out, she is definitely controversial, but then what great artist hasn’t been? She is the real deal.
Last night’s packed opening of Rainbow Body, her fourth solo exhibition features a post-contemporary study on abstract expressionism within a California palette. Using almond milk, food coloring, stomach and hands, Brown creates aesthetically whimsical paintings with a deep underlining of raw human emotion. Each piece tells the story of the Los Angeles sky, its past and its present, its light and its dark.
A founding member of London’s !WOWOW! collective, which has produced such luminary talents as fashion designer Gareth Pugh and artist Matthew Stone, she was hailed as one of the new YBAs (Young British Artists). Brown is a performance artist who explores the synergy and separation of mind, body, and spirit. Viewing the body as a vessel for spiritual practice, she pushes her physical and mental boundaries to reach a state of enlightenment from which creative expression and healing derives.
She has collaborated with innovative talents such as Nick Knight, Ruth Hogben, and Lady Gaga. Notably, her performance film for Gaga’s Monsterball Tour was exhibited at the SHOWstudio gallery and showcased worldwide throughout the tour.
She has also collaborated with my daughter, Tatjana Rhodes who edited together all of the artists’ past work into a video for the current exhibition running April 10-23, 2015.
It has been both fascinating and exhilarating to watch Millie’s work evolve from her earlier projects in London, to Celestial Bodies, thenWilting Point in which she lay on a bed of flowers meditating for a week while the world watched through mounted cameras streaming live during New York’s Frieze Art Fair, an encore performance with Lady Gaga at SXSW last year, and her most recent Suspended by Optimism at Miami Art Basil as she floated above the crowd suspended from massive helium balloons. Now Rainbow Bodies has taken her paintings into a whole new realm – one of sophistication and style all her own.
I met the charismatic artist in 2009 through her sister, Beckielou Brown who helped me start this blog many moons ago. Having grown up vegetarian, I was always mystified by the fact the Brown sisters had never consumed a single bite of meat in their lives.
In fact, Beckielou was the first vegan I’d ever met, making her the perfect taste tester (“guinea pig number one” as many of you may recall) as I spread my wings creating vegan recipes of my own after the Conscious Cook Challenge. In honor of Millie and Rainbow Bodies, I want share one of those creations (that got the Brown sister’s thumbs up approval) with all of you…
Udon Noodles with Tofu & Greens
High in nutrients while full of flavor, it’s is sure to help spruce up your weekly repertoire. Not a tofu fan? Substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size chunks and use chicken stock in place of the vegetable broth, or chunks of sirloin with beef broth.
1 12 ounce package Udon noodles, cooked according to package instructions
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
2 extra firm tofu, drained and cut into bite size chunks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, miced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
10 ounces of mixed baby greens (I used red & green Swiss chard, tat soi, arugala, and spinach)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup vegetable broth
scallions for garnish (optional)
toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
1). Heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in a wok or large saucepan. Dredge the tofu chunks lightly in the cornstarch, season to taste, and brown in the hot oil. Remove to a plate tented with foil it keep warm.
2). Add sesame oil and remaining peanut oil to the hot pan along with the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes, Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the greens, tossing to coat with the oil and aromatics, then add the soy sauce mixed with the honey and vegetable broth. Cook tossing gently occasionally, until greens wilt, about 2-3 minutes.
3). Add noodles and tofu to the pan and toss well.
Serve hot with scallions sliced on the diagonal and toasted sesame seeds to garnish.
PS. Go see Rainbow Bodies April 10-23, 2015 open 12PM -6PM at 8473 Melrose Place. For more about Millie Brown: