Skip to main content

Vietnam Veteran’s Art Work Comes Home

Photo of 2 flag. A photo of "2 Flag" by USD alumnus Galen Brown.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Galen A. Brown, native South Dakotan, USD alumnus and a Vietnam U.S. Marine Corp Purple Heart Recipient, will be honored by a retrospective of his artwork at the Day Gallery in the Warren Lee Center for the Arts at the University of South Dakota. The show runs through April 4 with a gallery reception on March 23.

Galen Brown served two tours of duty as a sniper. He enlisted in 1965 and was wounded in action in Hue, 1968. His journey as an artist began after returning from war and ended with his passing in 2013.  

The show “Shapes and Shadows” is a collection of works from his 50-year span as an artist.  His series of works delve into the shapes and shadows of what he observed. Whether it was the shapes related to war and peace, the shapes of justice and injustice, and even the shapes related to his own cancer–his goal was to challenge the viewers to think.

Kay Adkins Brown, curator of the collection, states, "In March of 1968, Galen came home to Dell Rapids, as a wounded warrior. It seems fitting that on this 50-year anniversary his art returns. His experiences in Vietnam, like many others, left an emotional wound. Over the years I knew Galen, his art was his vehicle for healing. I believe at his passing he had come to many resolutions. This show is an opportunity for others to experience this journey."

The retrospective is a selection of works on paper from 15 series created by the artist. Included in the exhibit is “Boots” a drawing of those he wore In Vietnam. Between 2004-2008, Galen Brown used the American Flag as the shape of his subjects. The piece “2 Flag” was featured on the Story Wall from Minnesota Public Television’s “Vietnam.” In each of his pieces there is a subtle reference to his service in Vietnam.

Galen Brown was a 1963 graduate of Dell Rapids, South Dakota. He received his MFA from the University of South Dakota, was a guest lecturer and Printmaker of the Frogman Press and was Artist-in-Residence at the Oscar Howe Gallery and Mount Marty College in Yankton in the 1980’s. His work has been exhibited and is in collections in Germany, Italy, France, India and throughout the United States.


USD's College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News