With a Music Foundation, Carrie Dietz Brown Expands Her Artistry with a Stroke of the Brush

Paint the town.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Tanya Monaghan
  • Photographed by
    Lauren Pressey

Carrie Dietz Brown’s beautiful, refined features perfectly match her gentle and playful nature. Upon meeting her, I got the same feeling as when I first saw her whimsical artwork at Suite 6 in Manhattan Beach a year ago.

It’s easy to get transported by the beautiful, earthy tones of her watercolor paintings, but on closer look the extraordinary details also tell a story. In the cacophony of big, bold, abstract artwork out there, I found both her personality and her art refreshing and intriguing.

Most South Bay residents will be familiar with Carrie’s maiden name. Her family owns and runs Dietz Brothers Music, established in 1976 in Manhattan Beach. Her father, uncle, mother and aunt operate the business, but Carrie started working there from age 10 through high school and college.

Carrie still teaches ukulele, guitar, bass and banjo, as well as rock band classes for kids and adults. She even gives her students the opportunity to perform at venues such as Saint Rocke or South Bay Customs. For Carrie, it’s the best job in the world.

“Dietz Brothers is a huge part of my community, and I get so much out of working there,” she says. “It definitely influences my painting too.”

Growing up with such a strong musical background and community, it is no surprise that Carrie excelled in this arena. She toured with bands in high school and early college. Her first and most serious band was a folk-indie rock band named Food Foot, featuring Carrie and her sister Robin. They recorded a couple of records, and at that time Carrie met her future husband, Matt, who was a drummer.

While she finds her music work fulfilling, painting is probably her greatest passion. Carrie got her college art degree in painting from Cal State Long Beach in 2013. After college she gained momentum by publishing a booklet featuring her pen-and-ink drawings, illustrating a song by her sister called “The Slow Center of the Spinning Earth.” The booklet was a hit at Skylight Books in Los Angeles, City Lights in San Francisco and a couple bookstores in New York.

Later she had her first solo show in San Francisco at FORT Gallery. As a new struggling artist, she primarily worked with watercolor paints—purely for economic reasons, as they are affordable and last forever. After two years Carrie was hooked, and it became her go-to medium of expression.

She continued to do some group art shows and took part in the El Segundo Art Walk on several occasions. When Carrie became pregnant with Francis (now 2 years old), she decided to switch from her preferred small format to large-scale paintings. As a new mother, she reduced her music teaching schedule to three days a week and set up a small studio in her 100-year-old Torrance home (nicknamed “tiny monster”).

The studio gave her the freedom to do her artwork at home while Francis slept. She juggles it all with the help and loving support of her family.

“Much of the L.A. art scene is about bold, abstract work with the objective to convey one big idea at a time,” she says. “I admire it and think it is very impactful, but my work is trying to get a lot of information in there. At school I was often at conflict with people because of our contrasting styles. My earlier work was promoting ideas of cultivating and empowering quiet practices. There are usually subjects or people in my painting who are engrossed in something. There is a quiet productivity that is really interesting to me.”

Carrie thought she would have to slow down once Francis was born, but much to her surprise she found that having a baby inspired her to paint more. Bringing Francis into the world gave her so much confidence. She describes it as an intense time; she was caring for a newborn while recovering from a hectic C-section. However, she had never been more productive. She was able to produce enough work to get into Suite 6 for a solo show, and it was extremely successful. She has done a series of watercolor workshops and subsequent shows there as well.

Being an artist and a musician has always been a huge part of Carrie’s identity and is deeply woven into her family life and her community. Like the subjects in her painting, she is always fully engrossed in her work, and through that her art reflects the beauty and joy she finds in her life of creativity.

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