Five Minutes With Decontie & Brown

Five Minutes With Decontie & Brown

Bangor performance/visual artists Donna Decontie-Brown and Jason K. Brown, of Decontie & Brown, on a spiritually energetic heirloom, a glam DIY, and the evolution of Wabanaki art.

Donna Decontie-Brown and Jason K. Brown, of Decontie & Brown

mosaic puffin necklace from Decontie & Brown

I’m proud of…

“my first mosaic portrait,” says Brown, who hails from Penobscot beadworkers and basketmakers. “I learned lapidry in the Southwest, but want to show the beauty of Maine. And I’ve gotta love a bird that’s clumsier than I am.” $3,600.

sunburst ceiling medallion by Jason K. Brown

In our house, I made…

“a sunburst ceiling medallion from the spindles of a crib I found lying on the side of the road and spray-painted gold,” Brown says. “A wrought-iron candelabra we had that I also painted happened to go well with it. It’s a conversation starter. People look up and say, ‘oh my God, was that there when you bought the house?’”

Abbie, Decontie-Brown and Brown's coonhound

We fell hard for…

“Abbie, after Northeast Coonhound Rescue posted her picture,” says Decontie-Brown, who heads the Wabanaki Women’s Coalition and performs with Brown (stage name: Firefly) in live shows that mix modern and native music and visuals.

Jason K. Brown's grandfather's Navajo watch

“I feel my grandfather Wilfred Pehrson’s energy when I wear his Navajo watch,” Brown says. “He probably picked it up during his travels as chief of our tribe. I remember him wearing it all the time.”

Mike Vermette oil painting

A piece of art we love is…

“this oil by Mike Vermette,” Decontie-Brown says. “Mike was Jason’s and my art teacher at Indian Island School. I remember him encouraging us to find the balance between being free-flowing while focusing on the details of our work.”

a Penobscot war club

An heirloom I prize is…

“a Penobscot war club given to my grandfather when he was made chief,” Brown says. “My grandmother slept with it under her bed in case someone broke in. Made from the root bundle of a young birch tree, traditionally it was a weapon, but, over millennia, it became ceremonial and highly decorated with animal and face carvings.”

mini pack basket by Gabriel Frey and clock by Eunice Crowley

We collect…

“Wabanaki baskets, including a mini pack basket by Gabriel Frey, of Orono, I had made for Donna and two next to the clock by Eunice Crowley, from Indian Island, who was like a grandma to me,” Brown says.

See Brown and Decontie-Brown’s Firefly the Hybrid show at the Bangor Arts Exchange on June 18. Visit for details.