Brian Patterson | Artistic Bloodline

8/10/2012 | Amy Tibbals
Marcus MacDonald

The possibility of sharing some creative space with Brian brought him to our office. A brilliant gentleman, he arrived with a piece of his work - a gift - and I got to inform him that I purchased some of his genius works a couple of years ago. Serendipitous meeting, no? Brian's a remarkable and talented mind, to say the least, and we happen to love what he's doing.

Your creative space appears to be clean, bright, simple, and organized. Is that what you see? I see a still-frame of a whirlpool. It’s always a challenge to balance productivity and order. I once shared a workspace with a bow maker (bass, violin bows, etc.) that introduced me to the axiom, “a place for everything, and everything in its right place.”  That logic seems to keep what moves us forward from getting in our way. I really like where I am right now. Feels good.

Have you always known you were an artist? Yes. Though I didn’t always accept it. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I considered my creative compulsions to be significant attributes. My life changed dramatically when I had a sort of “revelation” (or whatever) that lead me to believe that I’m in big trouble if I don’t give life to the creative being inside me. Doing so was the best decision I’ve ever made.

The most beautiful thing I noticed about your relationship with your art is your reverence and gentleness toward it. Where does that come from? Thank you. I'm privileged to be able to make art.  I inherited creativity and inspiration from my grandmother, and she from hers.  My great, great grandmother left behind an LDS husband and son to take a painting scholarship in Paris around 1890. She had to conceal her gender to show her paintings in the Salons. After a decade in Europe, she returned to Tennessee and survived alone off of her craft for the rest of her life – mostly painting portraits of powerful men. Her name was Willie Betty Newman. My grandmother put her craft on the back burner to raise a family, but once her kids were grown, she refined herself as an excellent painter and sculptor. My grandmother sacrificed her craft for her family; her grandmother boldly sacrificed her family for her craft. And then there’s me - I exist because of their sacrifices. So, the opportunity to spend the best years of my life making art and sharing is a blessing. I take it seriously – obnoxiously serious.

Or, perhaps reverence and gentleness live within patience?

What is special about the project you're currently working on? I think this is me at my best. It's a culmination of things that have been long in coming, yet it’s new territory. If and when this body is exhibited, it will be the largest, most thorough embodiment of what keeps me going in life. Also, it is tremendously personal. In a way it’s a souvenir from the deepest and darkest parts of myself. So, I’m somewhat reluctant to show some aspects of it, but whatever. Those parts will be the most rewarding to experience. And interestingly, for this project I put out a few specific requests to the universe for footage of things that one does not see often...and the universe has been chillingly accommodating. For that, I am humbly grateful. I take it as a signal to keep working and see it through.

Is there a way that you would describe your work/your process? The video works are visual meditations heavily influenced by painting. They range from light paintings to unfolding minimalist narratives. Consistently, their themes include the cyclical nature of life; death, rebirth; the natural elements; birds – birds keep returning to me in spectacular fashion for whatever reason.

The process has become very intuitive. I actually wait for a physical sensation (or absence of) in my lower abdomen that prompts my big decision-making. The process in action is like hunting down the most eye-striking animals and playing Dr. Frankenstein with their parts. I think that’s an accurate description for both the sculptures and the video work now that I think about it.

Is your work more for you or your audience? Or both? Heavy question. Short answer is both. At one end of the spectrum, for instance, the paintings you see are not meant to be shown; they’re artifacts from an attempt to calibrate myself using a classical medium – oil paint. It’s a sort of exercise that helps keep me centered. That kind of practice is for me.

But on the other end of the spectrum, there is a question of potential: “What is the artist’s role in society?”  I don’t really know the answer. But, it seems that artists flesh out the ever-expanding, ever-evolving human consciousness by presenting experiences that promote new ways of seeing life. They also keep the First Amendment alive and well.

I guess if I’m doing this with myself, I need to make the work accessible and understandable to other people. I try to remain cognizant of where I situate on that spectrum at any given time.

We talked about how the show could be displayed. Any more thoughts on this? Essentially, it’s a meditation chapel. It’s looking like a space with eight monitors on opposing walls with a central projection, like in a theater. Each monitor will display a different “mandala” that is generated manually in the editing stage using simple math with footage I’ve shot. They’ll seem like electric stained-glass tapestries that oscillate gracefully between sacred geometry, earthly perspectives, and fantastical landscapes.

The central projection will command more attention with longer meditations like the river and blood sequence, among others. Those meditations will be interjected by narrative or dialog-driven sequences.  Those interjections will be in-step thematically, but will alter the overall experience by destroying the minimalism with specific ideas and meaning.

The full experience would be like a night of sleep – general impressions of time and space that evolve into blissful dreams, a little humor, and the occasional sheer-terror nightmare. Hopefully it won’t suck.

What about Salt Lake works for you as an artist? It’s really easy to live and make art here. The surrounding landscape is unreal and haunting. The art community is talented, young, strong, encouraging. And since our city’s petals are still unfurling, there are still lots of exciting opportunities in terms of establishing venues and markets for contemporary art.

What next project is getting you out of bed in the morning? Got a few things: I’m in a laptop music group called Salt Lake Electric Ensemble. I’ve begun a video comprised of 2012 Olympic footage that the group will score. It’s a study of the athletic human form pitted in the theater of competition. A fall premier is likely. And then it’s looking like graduate school if I get in to a program that is right for me.

"The following is an excerpt from a series of video works that feature bodies of water superimposed with clouds of blood. The full length of this particular work is 12 min 15 sec.

"The idea behind this is to present an object in space that is of its space but separate from it - the blood in the water. Then, it is to observe the transition of the object becoming the space.

Within this concept, the blood is not death or the result of any violence - it is more along the lines of life and its essence.

The blood is bovine. The river is The Provo.” - Brian Patterson



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