One Artist, Many Rooms: Experts Talk About Living With Art

When you see artwork in a gallery setting it can be hard to imagine it in your own home, incorporated into your real life. On the occasion of Rise and Shine: New Paintings by Brooklyn-based artist Patrick Brennan at Georgetown's Heiner Contemporary, a group of art world pros to placed Brennan's artwork within their own homes to see how it would work in real-life interiors.

Heiner gallerists Margaret Heiner and Elizabeth Parkman, photographer Lauren Ackil, and and Natalie Campbell, an independent curator, participated in a kind of pop-up roving art experiment, which took place in each of their homes across the Washington DC area.

First stop: Elizabeth Parkman's Bloomingdale townhouse.
Featured artwork: Rise and Shine: The never ending painting, 2012-13; Reasons for Tearing Down a Cathedral, 2012

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"A painting like Rise and Shine (above) has such a huge visual presence. It commands a room from a distance, but is also incredibly intricate; the viewer is only able to notice certain elements from up close. Brennan's work rewards the viewer over time -- the more one looks, the more one sees. In this painting, for example, there are Popsicle stick pinwheels, geometric collaged elements, loose fabric add-ons that gracefully break the picture plane, and partially obscured painterly moments. Rise and Shine has so many layers. I'm certain I would notice something new about it every day!"

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"Brennan's work changes in different light. It would be ideal to hang Reasons for Tearing Down a Cathedral (above) in our dining room, where we could experience it in bright morning sunshine at breakfast, late afternoon half-light, and candlelight over a romantic dinner. I also really like how the multi-colored liquor bottles compliment the colors in the painting. It's just such a fun piece to have above the bar."

Next stop: Margaret's Cleveland Park bungalow
Featured artwork: Busted Wind, 2012; Untitled, 2012

"It's exciting to think about Brennan's work outside of the gallery setting. His paintings change so much depending on context, which makes this exercise especially fun!

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I coveted Busted Wind (above) from the moment I saw a picture of it several weeks before Brennan's show opened, so fantasizing about where to place it in my home has been pretty awesome. The work is tiny and jewel-like, filled with gorgeous metallic colors -- pinks, blues, turquoise and gold -- and it is a virtual dictionary of mark making. There's dripped paint, brushed paint, squeezed paint, splattered paint, stenciled paint... so many contrasting application methods, and yet he's achieved a harmony that is striking.

While placement is important, it isn't something I worry about too much. I don't view any of the artwork in my house as permanent and enjoy moving it from one location to another. Because of the intimate scale and gem tones, I love the idea of propping Busted Wind on my vanity. It makes a vivid still life, one I would be excited to wake up to each day. Because the work is propped (no nail holes), I can easily move it somewhere else down the road.

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Brennan's work is so much about process. When I look at it, I like to think of the artist in his studio experimenting with different materials and colors, inventively cutting and layering fabric and paint. For this reason, it seems fitting to hang his paintings in an office or workspace. I like the juxtapositions created by hanging Untitled (above) in our office below a Roger Herman ceramic vase and next to a work on paper by Amy Sillman. The contrast created by Herman's drippy glazes and the hard edges of Brennan's collage is eye catching, and it's a joy to see Brennan and Sillman's work next to each other. The pieces share a warmth and generosity, which makes the pairing particularly compelling to me. Adding to the relationship is the fact that Brennan and Amy are friends; an interview between the two was published in his first book last year.

Next stop: Natalie's Mount Pleasant row house.
Featured artwork: Untitled, 2012; Flakes, 2012

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"Home is where I can enjoy unlikely juxtapositions that would never work anywhere else. You couldn't find two artists more different than Patrick Brennan (Untitled, above, right) and Elaine Reichek, both of whom I've known for years. Elaine is a conceptualist who translates art history into embroidered samplers -- this is actually her version of a drawing by Sol Lewitt. It's all about following rules, the lines from the corners reaching certain points of intersection. In Untitled, Brennan's lines also cross in the center, but his process is completely subjective and painterly. He once told me he's always trying to break his own rules. So it makes sense that they are opposite colors, yellow and purple. Together with this great ceramic work by Laurel Lukaszewski, it becomes a vignette about line and its possibilities."

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"Flakes (above) is my favorite painting in Brennan's current show. I love how it dynamizes very different types of work when it's part of a grouping, as it does here with a bold graphic print by Heidi Neilson, a small drawing by Mika Rottenberg, and an embroidery edition by Elaine Reichek. Brennan is always cutting up, repurposing, and rethinking old forms. I love how he sets off the collage elements with an electric yellow background and then unifies everything with drawing. You see a language of shapes that's always being re-invented."

Next stop: Lauren's Mount Pleasant row house
Featured artwork: Duster, 2012

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"The design of our row house does not leave a lot of wall space for art -- especially with twin girls! But when I started shooting Patrick Brennan's work I was inspired to juxtapose this piece, Duster (above), with my daughters' drawings. I love the interplay between the two."

For More Information:
Heiner Contemporary

Featured works, in order: Rise and Shine: The never ending painting, 2012-13; Reasons for Tearing Down a Cathedral, 2012; Untitled, 2012; Flakes, 2012; Untitled, 2012. All works © Patrick Brennan, Courtesy of Heiner Contemporary.

(Images: Lauren Ackil)

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