Most of his work can be seen in his studio-classroom, including Boxers, winner of the National Academy's 1944 Barnett Prize and the first piece he did after a serious infection caused him to lose the sight in his right eye. Gymnasts, a 19-foot sculpture, stands outside Temple University's McGonigle Hall. Although the majority of Brown's work deals with sports ("I'm not a determined jock or a case of arrested development, but I got a lot from athletics"), he has done busts of men such as John Steinbeck. William Carlos Williams, Archibald MacLeish ("Did you know he was on the Yale football and water polo teams?") and Robert Frost. He does not like his portrait studies to sit still while being sculpted, and a tour through his studio includes reenactments of conversations he has held there. One of his favorite exchanges involved Frost and a student of Brown's. Student: "How do you go about writing a poem?" Frost: "Well, first something has to happen to you." ( Brown is talking very slowly in a raspy voice and mussing his hair forward to create the same tousled look in which he sculpted the poet.) Noting that the message didn't sink in. Frost continued. "Then you put some words on a piece of paper and ride them like a horse until you have a poem." Student: "I think I should set myself a program and write two, four, even six hours a day, whether I feel like it or not. Do you think that's a good program?" Frost: "It sounds like a good program. I'm sure it'll improve your handwriting." Student (angered): "I'm serious." Frost: "I'm serious, too. You want me to give you the truth wrapped in a bundle so that you can put it under your arm and take it home and open it when you need it. Well, I can't do that. The truth wouldn't be there anymore."
Brown also is suspicious of definitions. He refers to the "thinking-doing-feeling fact" in art and, to explain his philosophy, uses a lump of clay shaped like the head of a man. "Nothing that would interest you has ever happened to this man," he tells a class. He talks of Harry (Kid) Brown learning to fight in the streets and of how he, being a more scholarly type, bought a book on boxing. "I read that a left hook is a punch delivered with the left arm bent at the elbow. But that's only a definition." He talks on about his brother, about how he thought of him as the "socio-economic savior of the family," and of how he learned by watching Harry that a left hook could put a dent in the right side of the nose and swell the right eye. He pushes the nose in with his thumb and begins adding clay around the eye. "As I became more intimately involved," he says smiling, "I learned that an eye swells at both the top and the bottom. It helps to have been there. The book offers a definition but that's not the last word." Noting that the boxer has probably been hit on the other side before, he makes slight additions around the eye there. "That's character, or what the doctors call scar tissue. Now a man with a dent in his nose like this one is likely to develop sinus trouble [he wrinkles the brow] and have to breathe through his mouth." Using his comb, he opens the mouth and pouts the lower lip out in a way that resembles his own when he gets heated. "Very possibly his boxing injuries have caused him to have infected teeth." Brown removes a section of teeth. He holds the portrait of the boxer up. "This is what we get from 'a left arm bent at the elbow.' Now I've brought you a message, something you didn't know as well as I do."
Among Brown's works is a head something like this, which he calls Winner. When Columnist Red Smith first saw it, he was reminded of Tony Zale the night that he successfully defended his middleweight title against Rocky Graziano. It moved Smith to describe Brown as a "great sports reporter."
Brown hopes to have his first football giant cast and in place by the summer of 1974. It is a goal many would term "optimistic," but Brown is no stranger to optimism. "Our world, surely, is not one of sweetness and light, but just as surely it is not one of darkness and doom," he says. "I think we come closer to the truth if we say, 'It's so good it's a shame it isn't better,' but it won't be better if we stop trying."