Read Below Don Brackken Press Release by Nancy Helle
ARTIST DONALD BRACKEN CONNECTS WITH THE LAND, PAINTING WITH DIRTAND CLAY; SCULPTING WITH VINES IN NEW LIONHEART GALLERY EXHIBITION
Whether his location is farm, field or forest, artist Donald Bracken finds the tools of his trade in the natural world. A new exhibition “Winter Dreams” at the Lionheart Gallery in Pound Ridge, NY will showcase his unique vision and dexterity in “painting with dirt and clay” and “sculpting with vines” from February 2 through March 10. The imaginative artist literally incorporates dirt in some of his paintings, combining it with an acrylic gel on canvas to create beautiful three dimensional landscapes with unique textural qualities which look like many layers of paint. Bracken developed the technique while painting near a farm in the flood plains of Wethersfield, CT. He says, “I found the dirt more compelling than the colors I was using, so I started putting it directly on the canvas, mixing it with acrylics. It enabled me to connect more deeply with the landscape around me.” Bracken also uses other earth materials, such as sand and clay in his landscapes. He refers to his paintings as “not about the landscape, but of the landscape,”
Adding, “I want my viewers to feel part of the landscape too”. He also hopes to make them aware of his concern for the diminishing agricultural communities of our country.
A landscape painter for many years, Bracken has more recently begun to work with vines, creating intriguing kinetic sculptures, mobiles and installations. He likes the anthropomorphous shapes of the vines, seeing them as “calligraphic drawings in space”. Some of these works are included in his exhibition at The Lionheart, such as “Child in Mother”, a vine sculpture. In yet another evolution of his talent, Bracken has begun to do paintings of his sculptures and vine installations, such as “Strange Things Unfold”, adding another dimension to the viewer’s experience.
The Lionheart Gallery will also feature a compelling nine panel installation, “Heaven and Earth”, painted by Bracken from the 91st floor of the World Trade Center in l997 – a panoramic vision of the world that was forever altered four years later. The painting resulted from a grant he received from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which awarded him an Artist-in-Residence Fellowship with a studio in the World Trade Center. He considers it one of the highlights of his career, along with exhibiting at the Aldrich Museum with the likes of Chuck Close, Lester Johnson and Robert Motherwell. Bracken was also the recipient of a Grant from the CT Commission on the Arts in 2011 and the New York State Museum in Albany showed his work in 2012.
Bracken grew up in San Francisco, attended UC Berkeley and pursued his art career on both east and west coasts before returning to West Cornwall, CT a second time in l990, where he has now lived and worked ever since. Over the years, his occupational pursuits have included faux painting, teaching at the New School in NYC, designing book covers and doing illustrations for the New Yorker. But his first commitment has always been to making his own art. He also plays jazz guitar and likes to quote his idol, Charlie Parker, who said, “If you don’t live it, you can’t blow it out of your horn!”
The newly renovated Lionheart Gallery at 27 Westchester Avenue in Pound Ridge, NY, just over the new Canaan border, is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12 to 4 p.m. Visitors are always welcome, but those traveling a distance are encouraged to call ahead, as the gallery is occasionally closed briefly for appointments with collectors. 914-764-8689. Website: www.thelionheartgallery.com