Lisa Brawn • Artist Statement
I have been experimenting with primarily figurative, portrait genre painted woodcut blocks for over twenty years since being introduced to the medium by printmakers at the Alberta College of Art and Design. For the past five years I have been particularly interested in wildlife and especially wild birds. The most recent development in this series is the use of damask and geometric pattern wallpaper backgrounds. These patterns flatten the picture plane and create a visual intersection between the chaotic beauty of nature and the controlled beauty of design. Almost exclusively, I use reclaimed and salvaged wood, primarily Douglas Fir beams from the restoration of the century-old Alberta Block in downtown Calgary. This wood is interesting not only in its history, but also in that it is very rustic, with knots, nail holes, and gouges. I don't make prints from the woodcuts, but prefer the tactile quality of the blocks themselves.
There are several ongoing portrait series that I work on, such as Quién es más macho? referencing popular culture personas and archetypes from 1920s silent film cowboys to 1970s tough guys. Other series include "Canadiana", Sideshow, Telephone Company Transfers and Promotions, Take Me to Your Leader, and Honky Tonkin' Honey, Baby. I also work on an ongoing series of glossy enamel icons and text-based Pop woodcuts, and in 2013 I installed a series of these on the exterior of private residences in inner city Calgary, in a pay-it-forward public art project called Pophouse.
Another major component of my art practice is exploring the possibilities for alternative venues and project spaces. Sugarmobile was a 1935 silver travel trailer I restored for use as a mobile gallery in 2000-01. In 2002 I presented seven months of interdisciplinary events through Sugar Gallery, a 300 sq. ft. art salon in the Grain Exchange in downtown Calgary. In 2003 and 2004, Milo Dlouhy, Angie Inglis, and I operated Sugar Estate Art Salon and Museum of Oddities in a former warehouse in downtown Calgary. In 2007 we opened a storefront museum in Art Central, The National Portrait Gallery / Portrait Estate. In 2009 and 2010, Angie Inglis, Jane Grace, and I operatedSugar Shack, an interdisciplinary project space and art salon, in a turn of the century "cottage" in residential NW Calgary. In 2009 I restored a 1962 Airstream to use as a mobile gallery, The Bambi Media Machine. Since 2007 I have managed a window gallery on 17th Avenue SW in Calgary. Initially called Museo Poco, then curated with Angie Inglis and Jane Grace (in 2011 -12) as Sugar Cube, and currently known as La Fenêtre.