Wanda Brown

Publisher, Art Teacher, Philosopher

photo and story by Tony Coppi

Wanda Brown, as an art teacher, found a gratifying experience in teaching children in her art classes. She found that they were perceiving, responding, planning, exploring, creating, and evaluating.

She was an art teacher for 30 years at schools on the south side of Indianapolis, and also at Whiteland, Helmsburg, and Nashville.

She wrote a book, Enjoy Art With Wanda Brown. Her teaching philosophy of art was “Let’s have fun.”

Wanda Brown was born in Dale, Indiana. After graduating from Dale High School she attended Indiana University majoring in art.

Further studies in art led her to Rome, Italy where she spent some time at St. Peters Cathedral and the Sistine Chapel—famous for its frescos by Michelangelo and other painters. She studied the works of Michelangelo’s and uses slides of the masterpieces in presentations at various functions.

While in St Peters Cathedral Mrs. Brown had a photo taken of her standing on a red marble stone that was the exact spot where Charlemagne, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was crowned.

Mrs. Brown had been to Brown County a few times when one of her teachers at IU, who had a log cabin in the county, invited some of the students for visits. In 1959 she made another trip to Brown County to see the scenery during the fall and had some car trouble. At that time she met Orval Brown, soon after that they were married. Wanda had two little girls from a previous marriage and she and Orval had two boys.

Orval was a storyteller. He could tell so many interesting and funny tales that Wanda decided to put them in a book The book, Growing Up In Bean Blossom is a mix of stories and jokes with a Will Rogers or Abe Martin type humor. Here is a sample of Oval’s yarns:

“Brownie claims to be such a fast runner that when he goes rabbit hunting he runs alongside the rabbit and feels his ribs to se how fat he is before he shoots him.”

“Lennie, who lives down Pike’s Peak way, says the water got so high one day that he had to walk under it to get to town.”

“Two boys over by Stoney Lonesome died drinking milk. The cow laid down on them.”

“Sweep the stones away from your own doorstep instead of throwin’ ’em at others.”

The book is available at the Brown County Public library.

Wanda, along with Pam Raider, Davida Ericson, and Clare Enright publish a pamphlet called Brown County’s Reflection Rag. The purpose of their journal is to explore and share differing perspectives in order to stimulate thought and generate ideas, hoping to elicit responses.

It came about when they were looking over a copy of the Arizona Highway magazine. They were doing, what they called ‘ragging’ and Wanda said, “I always wanted to publish a magazine.” Pam said, “Why not? I’ll help.” And Davida said, “Let’s do it.”

After a few hours of ‘ragging,’ the first issue came out in 1995 (Our Brown County’s first issue, too). It’s not exactly a Ladies Home Journal, Family Circle, or Good Housekeeping, but it is interesting reading cleverly written and well received as evidenced by many letters from reader responses.

One of Mrs. Brown’s daughters, Kitty, lives in Guatemala. She started their working for Habitat for Humanity, later with God’s Child and now works on her own time.

Wanda did some painting while visiting her daughter in the Central American country and gave them to some missionary people.

Another daughter, Pat, lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and works at the University of Wisconsin in what is called the Poverty Center where she researches Census data supplied to agencies and the government.

One of Mrs. Brown’s sons, Ishmael, lives in Brown County and works in Columbus. The other son, Sam, lives in Columbus and works in Brown County.

She has nine grandchildren.