Finding, losing self at Brand art exhibit

For 40 years, the Brand Library and Art Center in Glendale has produced a national juried art exhibition of works on paper submitted by artists from across the United States. “Brand 40: Fortieth annual National Juried Exhibition of Works on Paper: Entrances & Exits” was officiated by juror Peter Frank, an art critic and curator at the Riverside Museum of Art, who culled through hundreds of entries to organize the show. Of the 10 donor prizes awarded, the most significant is the “Jane Friend Purchase Award,” which purchases the winning art piece to add to the permanent Brand Library and Art Center collection.

This year’s purchase prize was awarded to Ellen Ziegler of Seattle, Wash. for her work, “The Book of Knowledge,” made of mixed media on tar paper, opening to 26 inches by 52 inches. The oversized volume has several black tar paper pages, mottled shiny and dull, almost sticky in appearance, with applications and treatments that give each page a unique set of characteristics that look like a running panorama of the universe. Solar systems, black holes, meteors and nebulae run through the book like a narrative to induce the imagination and define the unexplainable. It has a tactile attraction. One wants to touch and turn the pages. The gallery provides a white glove to preserve the piece.

The Irena Raulinaitis Donor Award went to Chris Perry of Brooklyn, N.Y. for his paper sculpture, “86 Ripples: droplet” (paper, fabric, wood, gel acetate, 13 inches by 34 inches by 8.5 inches). Two orange books — one bound horizontally, the other vertically — are connected by a paper bridge. Pages flow out of one into the other. There is no text. The centers of the books have been altered to remove the area that traditionally would be occupied by words and images. A red acetate filter fills the hole on the horizontal book. One can imagine all kinds of meaning here, possibly touching on censorship, revisionism or the absence of empirical knowledge. Only Perry knows for sure.

One rather haunting archival digital print produced by Matthew Derezinski of Kirksville, Mo., was not awarded a prize but is worthy of mention. His “Aftermath” (20 inches by 30 inches) is brown and black with tinges of red. Features of architecture and power lines are obfuscated by the appearance of hostile, wicked, swirling debris. The image moves the viewer’s eye back and forth across the picture plane. It brings to mind the recent images of terrible tornadoes that tore through the region of the United States that the artist calls home.

The Brand’s “Entrances & Exits” exhibition title was inspired by a quote from the Catholic writer and monk Thomas Merton: “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” The exhibition overall is among the best of the Brand’s annuals in recent memory, and most of the entrants remain unseen. There is only so much gallery space, so it’s easy to imagine how difficult Frank’s choices must have been.


What: Brand 40: Fortieth Annual National Juried Exhibition of Works on Paper: Entrances & Exits.

Where: Brand Library and Art Center, 1601 West Mountain St., Glendale, 91201

When: Sept. 17 to Oct. 28, 2011. Gallery hours are Tuesday and Thursday 12-8 p.m., Wednesday 12-6 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Contact: (818) 548-2051 or

Teri Martin is an art historian and a critic for the Glendale News-Press.

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