“Dinner with an Artist” was inspired by the many dinners ANNE REED GALLERY‘s owner, Barbi Reed, has had the pleasure of enjoying with gallery artists over the years. It was during these dinners that the conversation twisted and turned to the delight of all sitting around the table. There was no more perfect way to relax and enjoy the camaraderie of artist, collectors, and staff after the intensity of curating, preparing for, and installing an exhibition. Today, we invite you to this virtual dinner table conversation with Brad Durham to discuss his current exhibition: Catching Light I and II, and much more…
ARG: What early influences sparked your appreciation for and creation of art?
BD: When I was three, I had a sitter who took me to the beach to do watercolors. In many ways these early experiences with forms and colors became my first language.
ARG: Are there any contemporary and/or historical artists, writers, poets, filmmakers, etc… who have or continue to inspire you?
BD: When I finish a painting, I always imagine asking Rothko and Giacometti if it’s good enough. That’s because I find Rothko’s paintings to be meditations on the divine, and Giacometti’s works express the essence of humanity and the human condition. Both Rothko and Giacometti have a stillness and meditative quality that I find meaningful.
ARG: We’d enjoy hearing about your studio space. Can you describe it for us?
BD: Studios are always an issue. I lived in Los Angeles lofts for 15 years and there is a dynamic and immediacy to living and working in the same space that fuels creativity. But, at one point, I wanted to have some separation. Now, my studio in Minneapolis is actually perfect. The house came with a large work studio that’s twenty steps from the back door, which allows for separation but also for those flash creative moments.
ARG: When you moved from Southern California to Minnesota several years ago, did that affect your work and if so, in what way?
BD: For my growth as an artist I needed change. I lived in Los Angeles for 20 years and began to realize that that familiarity wasn’t beneficial to my maturing. It was quite unexpected to end up in Minnesota, a state off the radar of many. My wife and I visited two friends here and immediately felt at home. The changes to my work were instantaneous – the paintings now have a life between the dimensions that I didn’t know possible.
ARG: Besides the softness inherent in your work and the calm that elicits from your imagery, we are captivated by your choice of trees in your paintings and magnolia flowers in your prints. Why are these icons particularly special for you?
BD: Every artist finds a form that reflects his/her own voice. Mine just happens to be Nature. Goethe said that Nature is “the living garment of God” and that artists are a kind of priest who, in their creations, mimic in an effort to resolve the contradictions between the subjective and objective worlds. My interest is memories, and how we create them to connect these worlds.
ARG: You mention in your artist statement that the marks of coloration on your paintings are intentionally preserved, but not intentionally made. Can you explain more about why you have you chosen to allow these marks to remain rather than cover them?
BD: I feel the maturity in my work reflects my understandings. I paint not to make a perfect painting but rather a painting that reflects an honesty. What I mean by this, is that I want the viewer to know that each of my paintings contains many false starts, ‘mistakes’, restarts; that I’m not trying to present a finished product but rather moments filled with observations and brushstrokes, some started and finished, some not. I want to show the process of thoughts and reflections – that connectedness is not a static moment but rather ever forming.
ARG: And what about your process in making your prints? You refer to these as a “monoprint edition.” What does this mean?
BD: A monoprint edition is a set of prints that contain similar imagery. However each print is uniquely hand worked for variations. With the MAGNOLIA series in the show, I created nine graphic icons of magnolias. Once a layer is created, I apply Japanese Kozo papers to the surface for the coloration.
ARG: Let’s end with just a few questions for fun. Do you listen to the radio or music when you work? If so, what is your favorite station, type of music?
BD: I’m trying to learn a new instrument, the guitar, so I’ve been listening to a lot of Al Petteway and Amy White’s music lately. At the end of the day when I’m cleaning up I generally listen to NPR to stay current with the issues
ARG: When not in your studio working, what do you do for fun?
BD: In Los Angeles I used to play the bag pipes but since moving here it’s been the Irish flute. There is something so simultaneously joyful and sad about Irish music that I find it compelling.
ARG: Would you care to tell us about what you might be thinking about for future exhibitions or new series?
BD: I’m in the middle of a big commission right now that is pretty specific and doesn’t allow for much exploration so while I’m working on these paintings I use the time to visualize. As I have a show in June in Michigan, I suspect we’ll see how the visions take form.
ARG: Thanks, Brad. We’ve so enjoyed sharing a conversation over a “virtual dinner” with you and look forward to more time with you in the future. Cheers!