Janet Bruhn

Rural or forgotten things, such as an over gown backyard, pickled foods and half eaten turkeys, are subjects I paint to dissect the complexity of the mundane. Motifs of revelry and amusement counter balance the prosaic. Feats of bravery in the form of uplifted hands challenge what is dull. By utilizing normality, inherent restlessness is present in conjunction with pallid or effulgent colors. Realism is utilized to heighten the temperature of the present, factories closing, prairies still growing and stodgy Lutherans that are fading. Storytelling accompanied by sentimentality and sap is also significant to how the subject matter is handled with respect.
Oil paint is grade A wildflower honey and dog poo stuck to the bottom of your shoe. It’s been dead a dozen times over yet still alive by a crew of faithful formalistic zombies, stubborn like a Chicago Pollack, wrenching nails out of coffins and exhuming the dead. There is something primal and hopelessly romantic to painting. If I thought too much about it I wouldn’t do it. “High” and “low” are important cultural themes to force together on blind dates. Shush, they have a lot in common. Paints materiality unites variant subject matter in my practice. Heightening the frailty of high and low as separate intellectual fields, recognizing pop cultures influence on academia and vise versa. Barbarians and aristocracy can have a drink together at the same dive bar in my world. Marsden Hartley and Alice Neal will be there with me tonight, let’s use the wee gee board to set Marsden up on a date with a hot lumberjack.
Paintings are connected like ants on a log of the peanut butter and celery sort, stuck to the roof of your mouth, gooey, related through the narrative of what to paint/eat next.  Through a relationship of material and banal subject matter the paint takes on a humble veneer or a sensational luster. On site observation along with photographic references aid the development of what is rendered. Motifs are pieced together on plain, rabbit skin glued canvas, often allowing the buttery, beige color to show through. At times I look at color in terms of class and upbringing, in the piece Wes dark green represents veterans uniforms, the algae of the Great lakes, while Indian gold symbolizes Ho-chunk, Menominee Native Americans. Color unites, yet maintains the complexity of the subject matter through ghost layers and paint density.
Fractured places, outlandish objects and unhealthy lifestyles mark the frailty of subjects I paint. The normality I try to render is interrupted by the decay laden in its creation. By loving these people and things images are created just in time for mold to set, plastic to crack and figures to exit.