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Beautiful and unique:
Russ Brown’s aviation mural

by Robert Burris

Sure to become Sedona lore, a unique series of murals are evolving on the side of the Red Rock Biplane building on Airport Mesa. These magnificent creations are as unique as their creator.

Russ Brown, Sedona aviation artist, has begun work on the west wall of the building, the first of two murals planned for the dazzling  location.

“Painting the murals is a labor of love,” said Brown.

The first mural is in honor of the airman of World War II. The 15’ by 8’ size creates an exciting panorama of the aircraft that flew in Europe in 1944.

Featured aircraft are Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortresses,” Consolidated B-24 “Liberators,” North American P-51 “Mustangs,” Republic P-47 “Thunderbolts” and Lockheed P-38 “Lightnings.”

To add a sense of history, many of the aircraft are the actual planes flown by Sedona residents, such as Bob Boydston in his P-51 “Boilermaker Special,” and Herschel Ferris in his P-47 “Jackie Ann.” As a tribute to his late father, Brown has painted Lt. Russell Brown in his P51 “Pretty Baby.”

“Each aircraft will be rendered in exacting detail, down to the last rivet,” said Brown.

To watch Brown create an aircraft in life-like detail is a lesson in aviation art. He is an extremely fast painter. He paints on Thursdays and Fridays, and like the Energizer Bunny, he never stops painting.

Brown grew up in the Air Force and then became a U.S. Army helicopter pilot with two tours in Vietnam. Beginning his aviation art two years ago, he has discovered a passion.

“So many planes to paint and so little time,” Brown said.

In addition to his studio and gallery of aviation art at the Red Rock Biplane building, he is the owner and director at Sedona Artist Studio on Gallery Row, on Hwy. 179 in Sedona. He is a very busy artist, with a vast palette - from aviation to visionary.

To add even more history into the mural, Brown is looking for more pilots and crew of those types of aircraft who flew in Europe in 1944. Their planes may be added in, depending on available space. Brown can be contacted at 203-0195 or 300-5988.

Since the focus of Sedona Airport is civilian aircraft, Brown has a second mural in the works that will feature famous aircraft in civilian aviation. The center of this mural will be the Wright Brothers taking off on their first historic flight at Kitty Hawk, in 1903. Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of this event and the exciting growth of civilian aircraft. Featured around the Wright Brothers will be many well-known aircraft, such as the Spirit of St. Louis, the DC-3, the Constellation, the Boeing 747 and the Concorde.

Brown spends whatever time it takes to bring each aircraft to life.

“Each aircraft represents a bit of aviation history and each person viewing this will remember how   aviation affected their life,” said Brown, who is a fountain of aviation lore, but really enjoys listening to the aviation stories of others.

“Some interesting points have come from women, who in many cases built these planes,” said Brown. “Each aviation story ties in with another as man has striven to fly faster and higher.”

The first mural is entitled “Those were the days.” Because of the historical connections, an album will be created that tells the history of each plane and pilot in the painting. A guest book will be available as pilots bring their friends to reminisce over a time long passed.

Once the mural is finished, there will be an unveiling and a party to celebrate this unique piece of aviation history.

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