Lisa Brawn

I have been experimenting with figurative woodcuts for almost twenty years since being introduced to the medium by printmakers at the Alberta College of Art and Design. Recently, I have been wrestling with a new challenge: five truckloads of salvaged century-old rough Douglas fir beams from the restoration of the Alberta Block in Calgary and from the dismantling of grain elevators. This wood is very interesting in its history and also in that it is oddly shaped. Unlike traditional woodcut material such as cherry or walnut, the material is ornery. There are holes and knots and gouges and rusty nails sticking out the sides.

To find suitably rustic and rugged subjects, I have been referencing popular culture personas and archetypes from 1920s silent film cowboys to 1970s tough guys. I have also been through the Glenbow archives for horse rustlers, bootleggers, informants, and loiterers in turn-of-the-century RCMP mug shots for my ¿Quién es más macho? series. Cowgirl trick riders and cowboy yodelers in their spectacular ensembles from the 1940s led to my Honky-Tonkin, Honey, Baby series. Inspired by a recent trip to Coney Island, I have been exploring vintage circus culture and am currently working on a series of sideshow portraits including Zip the Pinhead and JoJo the Dog-faced Boy. There is also an ongoing series of iconic gender archetypes, antiheroes and divas, which includes such portraits as Sophia Loren, Maria Callas, Edith Piaf, Jackie Onassis, Steve McQueen, and Clint Eastwood.

Another major component of my art practice is exploring the possibilities for alternative venues and project spaces. Sugarmobile was a 1935 silver travel trailer that I restored for use as a mobile gallery. In 2002 Sugar Gallery presented seven months of interdisciplinary events in the Grain Exchange, Calgary. In 2003-04, along with Milo Dlouhy of Estate gallery and Angie Inglis, I ran Sugar Estate Art Salon and Museum of Oddities. In 2007 Milo and I opened a project space in Art Central, Portrait Estate. I currently operate Museo Poco, a diminutive window gallery on 17th Avenue in Calgary. My future plans include organizing artmobile convoys, which would initially make local appearances and eventually lead to a cross-Canadian Artmobile expedition.

Website by: Visual Café