Featured Artist: Joanne Brown
Interview by Mary Bennett
Location: 3272 West 5th Avenue
Media: Printing, painting and drawing
Joanne Brown has art on exhibit at MLA David Eby’s Community office, 2909 West Broadway until the end of December 2016. The image here, Stardust, is one of the woodcuts on the theme of Dance that are exhibited.
Joanne will also be one of four local artists doing a panel on “Why DIY?” as part of the Creative Neighbours Salon on Sunday evening November 27. Joanne will be showing some of her handmade Christmas cards and sharing why and how she makes her own cards each year. (RSVP required for Salons. See creativeneighbourssalon.wordpress.com for details.)
Why did you choose dance as a theme?
I’m not much of a dancer myself but I have friends who dance. I have music playing all the time when I’m in the studio. It definitely inspires my work.
Last year was your first year as an AIOM member. What made you decide to do it?
I’d thought about doing it years ago. I always went and did the art walks and enjoyed it. It coincided however with the busiest time of the year when I was working at Langara, so I put it off till I retired.
You were among the first to commit, for 2017.
Well, I misread the deadline for the early bird deadline. I got everything ready to go and when I realized my error, I thought I may as well just get it done!
What did you enjoy most about your involvement last year?
Getting to meet other artists was one of my big motivations for joining. I enjoyed the camaraderie with other artists.
What did you show in 2016?
I’ve got drawers full of prints that hadn’t been seen, because I’d made time to make art but had been too busy to show. So to be able to have people see that work was wonderful. I found it very exciting to have strangers come into the house. Everybody had different favorites. I had thought I’d learn which were most popular, but one person would respond to this and another would ask about that.
What are some of your artistic challenges at present?
I have allergies to solvents so I’ve been using water-soluble inks and some times I feel I don’t get as good results as with oil-based inks. I’m taking some workshops at Malaspina Printmakers and there we use oil-based. I’ve ordered some soy-based inks online and I’m looking forward to trying those out.
I think most artists find it hard to find time and space. I feel really lucky that I have both.
You have several degrees, a B.F.A. from Emily Carr and both a Bachelors and Masters in Education from UBC. What did you learn from your academic work that you value most at this time?
The time at Emily Carr was a real haven. To know that everyone in that building was busy making art was very empowering. I met some fabulous instructors and students.
I also learned quite a bit in the studio courses at UBC about art and about teaching art.
When you set up to teach something you really have to know it and live it first. You can’t go in and teach something you don’t know. It also pushed me to try other media, like clay and textiles, which I hadn’t studied at Emily Carr.
Do you have a favorite artist?
The German expressionist print makers are a big influence on my work. Their work is very simple and expressive. I especially admire Käthe Kollwitz. I go back and look at her work especially if I’m doing prints that have people in them. She worked between the two World Wars and after WWII. Much of it is political, expressing the angst of war.
What about locally? Is there a Vancouver artist you admire?
I like Pnina Granirer’s work a lot. I admire her use of colour. I find her allegorical figurative work very spiritual.
What new work are you engaged with?
I’m learning about and enjoying a method called “colour reduction”. It’s not new in general: Picasso did this. In this process, you use only one block. Usually I would use separate blocks for each colour but this way, you start and carve a bit and do all the prints with that colour, perhaps starting with yellow. Then you carve into the same block and print with a second colour. You might do a third plus black. It simplifies things in some ways such as it makes the registration easier. You wind up with only one block, so you can’t go back and do that print ever again the way you can with separate blocks.
Artists in our Midst is a member-run organization and we all take on a volunteer role. What are you involved with this year?
I offered to help with fundraising, which is important, so I’ll be doing some work requesting donations.
The main thing I’m doing again this year though is working with Jackie Conradi-Robertson with the Seniors Art Group at Kits House.
Last year I mainly supported Jackie: she would plan something and I might bring in books or images and just help her set up and clean up. I did a couple of workshops myself, recently teaching monoprints. This year I will offer to do more sessions to free Jackie up to travel or other priorities.
It’s a nice group. They’re very supportive of each other and willing to try things.
You mentioned you enjoy the camaraderie of AIOM members. Perhaps we should plan to do the Eastside Culture Crawl together.
Yes, I think that kind of social art-viewing activity would be great.
Notes and links
Pnina Granirer is one of the founders of Artists in our Midst.
Jackie Conradi-Robertson is immediate past president of Artists in our Midst and continues as an active member.
Kits House Seniors Art Group will start up again in January, 2017
View Joanne Brown’s art work at MLA David Eby’s Community Office is available at no charge to residents of Vancouver Point Grey. Click here for location and open times. http://davidebymla.ca/contact/