"Smoky Brown & Friends: The East Side Canon" will be on display at Streetlight Guild until Feb. 2.

Late in 2019, Richard Duarte Brown received a message from Smoky Brown’s widow, Laverne, informing him that she wanted him to have the artwork left behind by her late husband, who died in 2005.

“She carried his work, and it was a lot of weight on her in terms of shepherding his legacy,” said Duarte Brown (no relation to Smoky Brown, at least not in the biological sense, but more on that later). “In that moment, I felt like a kid who didn’t deserve to hit the lottery hitting the lottery, like a bastard told he’d never receive an inheritance getting an inheritance.”

Laverne gifted Duarte with more than 160 of Smoky’s colorful, outsider-esque paintings, leaving him only the most basic of instructions. “All she told me was, ‘I know you’ll know what to do with them,’” he said.

As a first step, Duarte Brown selected a couple dozen paintings for an exhibition of Smoky’s work, which will be on display at Streetlight Guild beginning on Thursday, Jan. 9, alongside contributions from other local black artists whose paintings were part of Smoky’s personal collection, including the late Aminah Robinson and Queen Brooks.

Continue reading at Columbus Alive.