“Emotional atmospheres” may be the best way to describe the fascinating drawings of Cleveland-based artist Judith Brandon, whose latest solo show, Super Natural, opens with a reception from 5 to 9 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 20, at Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery (suite 212) as part of Third Friday festivities at 78th Street Studios. Brandon’s creations could be referred to as portraits of nature, but they are manifested from the artist’s own imagination. Her turbulent scenes give her two-dimensional surfaces great depth and powerful, captivating energy.
“I’ve known Judith Brandon for more than a decade, and in that time, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing what some would call an evolution in her work, though I think it would be more accurate to say that I witnessed a coalescing of years of experimentation and honing of craftsmanship that have made her a world-class artist,” says gallery director Ross Lesko. “It's an honor to represent an artist of Judith Brandon's caliber, and to exhibit her work at Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery.”
“Drawing is a part of my life; my exploration in materials, philosophy, and the Earth's resonance consume most of my hours,” reveals Brandon. “My work ethic is only to make the best work I can. It gives me great joy to spend whatever time and tools necessary to make the appropriate marks without compromises or shortcuts. Each object has a vibration and each person, a unique vision; my work is about executing the overlapping layers of the seen and unseen into an emotionally driven landscape.”
She continues, “I work in transparent layers, much like a watercolorist or enamelist. Transparency is something that I also admire in people. The light comes from within, the purest part of my work is the white of the paper. I enjoy the metaphor. Paper is a little misleading. It’s actually cotton, and the many hours I spend with a piece is something like breaking in a pair of jeans. In the end we have a fondness for the adventure we both just went through together. It’s magic pushing the envelope and hoping I don’t create a tear or hole in the piece.”
Judith Brandon earned her BFA in drawing and enameling from the Cleveland Institute of Art after attending Chagrin Falls High School.
“Ms. Brandon’s powerful compositions function as emotional ciphers, resonating something primal and dreamlike that connects with the collective unconscious, pulling the viewer into the spaces she creates beyond the physical dimensions,” reveals Ross Lesko. “Her work is a record of her emotions, experiences and inspirations, recorded not only in the primary imagery, but in layers within and beneath her media of ink, charcoal and pastel. Ms. Brandon’s use of emotion as an intangible medium is one of the factors that make her work so compelling and unique—viewers sense that there is something to be decoded, and they are captivated. Viewers drawn in for a closer look at Ms. Brandon's compositions are rewarded with the discovery of words and subtle, secondary imagery, as well as the underlying geometry carved with sharp implements into the paper of each piece. All of these elements work together in an effective unity of expression, creating an emotive experience for the viewer.”
Her work, Swell, is currently on display in Columbus as part of the Ohio Arts Council’s Inaugural Juried Exhibition at OAC’s Riffe Gallery. Previously, her work has been exhibited throughout the country, including Maryland, Pennsylvania, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Michigan, Youngstown’s Butler Institute of American Art and the National Weather Biennale in Norman, Oklahoma.
“I work mostly from imagination and love of the medium. I study and have many resource materials and weather books. I regularly think I made something up and someone will send me an image saying, ‘I just saw that!’ I love that more than anything, when people look at the sky and say that reminds me of a Judith Brandon. That reinforces me to know I’m doing something right. Look at this amazing planet; I love the beauty and the abundance of it. All I do on any level is try to steer people away from negativity and towards magic and wonder. The world would be a better place if we didn’t pinch ourselves off from the dreams we had as kids.”
Can’t make the opening reception? Super Natural remains on view through Jan. 9 during regular hours: Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. or by appointment. Stop by for next month’s Third Friday event from 5 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 18.
(Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery) 1300 W. 78th St., 216-631-6719, kennethpaullesko.com