Willie Robert Middlebrook, Jr. 1957-2012

Willie Middlebrook at the installation of his artwork at Expo/Crenshaw Station.

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of Willie Robert Middlebrook, Jr., just one week after the opening of the Metro Expo Line, featuring Middlebrook’s artwork at the Expo/Crenshaw Station.

Born in Detroit in 1957, Middlebrook relocated to Los Angeles in 1960. Over his lifetime, Middlebrook’s photographs and photo-painting portraits were exhibited in over 200 solo and group shows, including venues such as the Studio Museum of Harlem, Art Institute of Chicago, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Cleveland Museum of Art and the California African-American Museum.

Willie Middlebrook beside one of his mosaic artworks for Expo/Crenshaw Station.

Middlebrook received numerous awards for his artwork including two Visual Artist Fellowships in photography from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Getty Trust Visual Artist Fellowship, a Brody Individual Artist Fellowship from the California Community Foundation and a City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship.

Middlebrook also inspired a generation of emerging artists through courses he taught at California State University Los Angeles and Compton Community College, many of whom attribute the early growth of their professional careers to Middlebrook’s encouragement.

In addition to the 24 mosaic artworks on view at Expo/Crenshaw Station on the Expo Line, Middlebrook’s public art commissions can be enjoyed at Avalon Station on the Metro Green Line and the L.A. County Florence-Firestone Service Center.

While Middlebrook’s passing marks a tremendous loss, we are fortunate that he has left behind an enduring legacy that will continue to bring joy to the people of Los Angeles for many years.

More information about Middlebrook’s work is available here:

Art for the Expo Line: Willie MIddlebrook’s Designs for Expo/Crenshaw Station

Exhibition on Exposition: New Artwork for the Metro Expo Line


5 replies

  1. I’m waiting for someone to run out and tell me I’ve been PUNK’ed, but no one has yet so I guess this is not a dream and I’m not caught in the matrix. Willie Middlebrook is one of the most amazing and life changing people I have ever met. If u have ever seen some of my artwork, design work or digital photography you’ve seen some of the fruits of his tree of life. What seem to come so easy too him rubbed off on me like wet paint and become a part of my moral fabric and my very being. I remember him telling me ” One day when u have kids, get them in front of your from camera day 1 ” So as they where being born I had my Nikon 70S in hand with 2 spare battery’s in the delivery room acting like ” Paparazzi Dad “. And every time I fire off a shot with my iPhone or any of my various Nikon Camera’s I always thought about all those hours we spent working, laughing, taking road trips or just hanging out. A Great Mentor, Teacher, friend and Brother too me and so many. The Best Father to those kids who I envy’ed so much cause that ” Eye ” for the perfect shot came so naturally too them I guess good DNA goes a long way and I knew some of it had rubbed off on me and many others just like me. I hate that u had to leave us so soon and so sudden, but I’m grateful for the many gifts and life lessons you’ve shared… I will see you on the other side God willing Rest in Peace my Friend The World is a Better Place because of you!

  2. My professor, mentor and friend Willie Middlebrook shared all he had with the community. He was certainly the best instructor I’ve ever had and also the best lunch buddy ever! We shared lots of great moments. The community is going to miss his generosity and genius- I don’t know which is the most prevalent but just thinking of him gone is incredibly painful.