EXPORTED: Colleen RJC Bratton – Chasing Storms in the Midwest

Seattle-based fibers artist Colleen RJC Bratton recently spent the month of May traveling across the Midwest with her dad, chasing storms and taking in new landscapes. Vignettes invited her to share the documentation of her road trip and her thoughts on how the landscapes she witnessed are impacting and inspiring her work.

Enjoy today’s Exported with Colleen:

Colleen RJC Bratton at Grand Canyon National Park
For the past 20 years my dad has wanted to go on a road trip to chase and photograph the big spring thunderstorms in the Midwest and Great Plains. Growing up my dad, a landscape photographer, would take us kids on adventures to see natural sites. These escapades instilled within me a desire for wide open spaces. As far back as I can remember I’ve practiced spontaneous departures. I climbed the canyons behind our house as a nine-year-old, explored the cloned tree farms in high school, sped down farm roads every summer during college and now I roam in the woods and on the beaches of the Pacific Northwest. Some of the most memorable moments happened for me during those times. The expansive landscape illuminates the smallness of myself and humbles me. It also opens up a sense of wonder and mystery: how could something be so beautiful and yet so terrifying at the same time?
I heartily accepted my dad’s invitation to come on the spring storm trip with him in May. We traversed over 7,500 miles in twelve days through ten different states; most of which I’d never been to before.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park Archway

Palo Duro Canyon

Lipan Point, Grand Canyon National Park

Sunset in Sumner, Nebraska

Storm in Hartley, Texas

Storm in Hartley, Texas

Rita Blanca Grasslands

Appaloosas in Brule, Nebraska

Bryce Canyon sunrise

Bryce Canyon

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Claude, Texas sunset

Field in Matador, Texas

Grand Canyon National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park
While on this trip I fell in love with the abandoned buildings and old farmsteads along country roads, their materials and forms weathered down by countless storms and gusting winds. These shifted frameworks expanded my concept of the homestead and the effects of time and trial placed upon it. Back in the studio, the colors of the canyons and parks I visited are already seeping into new work. I’ve begun sketching new structures inspired by the abandoned buildings. It’s only been a few weeks since my trip but I can already feel my work starting to consider the future and the past more than it did before.

House in Graham, Kansas

House in Rita Blanca National Grasslands

House in Rita Blanca National Grasslands

Minden, Nebraska Church Interior

Window in Snyder, Texas

EXPORTED: Erin Elyse Burns: Part II (Recap on Westfjords Residency in Iceland)

 Seattle artist Erin Elyse Burns has returned home from a magical residency in Iceland at the Westfjords Residency. Today, she is sharing her thoughts (and gorgeous photos) to wrap-up the experience.
I recently returned home and I’m still seeing that surreal Icelandic blue every time I close my eyes. As the Westfjords Residency progressed, I realized that I wanted to learn from the landscape through the body. Climbing, sliding, crawling, slipping, leaping, plunging, rock hopping, and moving amongst long grasses, low-tide seaweed formations, bouldery harbors, and icy winter waters, all gave me a taste of the distinctive impact place has on physiology. Being an outsider and feeling awash with the newness of the land heightened my awareness of its tactility. I wore the knees out of a brand new pair of jeans.
In thinking about what an artist residency is at its best, so much depends on the people involved. The time I spent in conversation with the Westfjords Residency founders and cohort has made such a lasting impression. An exhilarating amount of like-minded yet fresh perspectives on shared interests unfolded with intensity over a short but invigorating period of time. I’m humbled by everyone I met, even a bit speechless by the profound connections I felt.

(A Typical Moment on our Roadtrip from Thingeyri to Reykjavik)

Towards the end of our ten days in Thingeyri, there were a number of exciting resident-lead events. Interaction designer Alex Todaro created an experimental dinner party in which the residency participants, founders, and the man whose land we were near (none other than the Icelandic architect Pálmar Kristmundsson) had a outdoor dinner on the beach by the fjord. Our hands were bound together through a system of knots – each person’s right and left hands were controlled by someone else. My left hand: Yasuaki Tanago, my right hand: Mary Fran Cardamone. We were seated in a circle of wood pallets amidst open bonfires. Our food was buried within the site. We collaboratively unearthed raw halibut and vegetables to cook over open flame. We fed each other bread and drank Icelandic moonshine. Perhaps unsurprisingly, all seemed to agree the feast ended too soon.

(Alex Todaro “Conference Spit” Experimental Dinner Setup)

(Historical Photograph (Postcard) of Local Villagers)

(Re-photographic Portrait of Residents and Founders Based on Historical Photograph of Local Villagers)

(Open House, May 18th, 2015)
On the last day of the residency, we opened the doors to our three work spaces and had an open house. Everyone shared their work with each other, the founders, villagers from Thingeyri, folks from the nearby town of Isafjordur and even a few tourists from England passed through too. In a village of less than 250 people in the off season, having around 30 people in one area was an enjoyable shock! Cafe Simbahollin’s famous Belgian waffles were served (the biggest and best in Iceland) and we had a productive end of the residency feedback meeting. And, poetry was read!

Five of us embarked on a two-day roadtrip from Thingeyri to Reykjavik that can best be summed up by an instance in which we all, in spontaneous unison, shrieked in overwhelmed ecstasy at the 10pm sun, blindingly beautiful over the Altantic Sea. I spent a few days decompressing in Reykjavik, visited some incredible contemporary art galleries, and had an accidental overnight adventure on the island of Heimaey, in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago, due to high seas and gale force winds that made taking the ship back to mainland Iceland ill advised.
I’ll spend this summer working through the video footage and images to shape this new body of work into an exhibition. A note of unsolicited advice: apply next round! The Westfjords Residency is a phenomenal program to be involved in.

Klara Glosova | Wonderland

Essay by Gretchen Frances Bennett | Photographs by Andrew Waits

Klara Glosova uncovers new realities
and moves them sideways into the light


After I visited the studio of artist Klara Glosova, I sought out the scene from the 1980 film, Caddyshack, in which Bill Murray is at the bottom of a drained pool in a hazmat suit. He is there to locate an unknown material. This scene describes that moment when you do not know if the thing you are looking for is “shit, or if it’s candy,” says Klara. Murray locates the mystery object, bites into it and says, There it is. It’s no big deal.

Klara has this same offhand manner when describing her studio practice and the vulnerability of pursuing a body of work, before she knows where it is leading her, but not worrying too much about the outcome. “I never wanted to take it really seriously. If you get too heavy-handed, it becomes dead, and then you are no longer addressing it. Humor or lightness keeps it alive, but doesn’t make it less serious. There is art that leaves out the darkness. There is plenty of darkness in the shadows.”

At first, Klara’s studio explorations feel foreign to her. “I usually pretend no one will ever see it.” A sideways approach. Once it is no longer strange–she gets to know it–then it settles and becomes OK. As she becomes more calm and familiar with the work, it grows in intensity and becomes even sinister—the work becomes wilder.

As she describes her process, Klara seems outwardly casual about following her impulses into the unknown.

Her work reminds me of the film Alice, Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer’s stop film animation retelling of Lewis Carroll’s Alices’ Adventures in Wonderland. In the Czech version, Alice falls into a cellar, where she plunges past shelves of preserves, cookies, nails, fire wood and stuffed animals.

Entering Klara’s studio is like entering a well-lit and airy cellar. And there is much to take in, on shelves, the floor, a table. And though it is crowded, it appears cataloged and presented, in the way a naturalist presents her findings. Like Alice’s cellar, it is part wonderland and part normal. The neat but full arrangement of ceramic works and paintings and furniture and kiln present an array of everyday but also quixotic household concerns.

However strange the initial thought process, Klara follows it, if it holds her interest. “It always happens, what is thought,” she says. “I think it’s the only way for me to speak about anything that matters to me. If it is not interesting to me on some deeper level of discovery, personally, then how can it be of interest to anyone else?”

As I stand in Klara’s studio space, among large-format paintings and clay works, my first read is that they seem to form a collection corresponding to the life of a swimming pool. On the floor there is a diving mask rendered in clay on found concrete with eyes; a stick propped against a wall seems to have a waterline painted on it; and in a painting of a still from Caddyshack, Bill Murray bites a small brown object. There is watery imagery of synchronized swimming men, bringing to mind Matisse and Picasso, dancers and bathers in a strange pool.

My second read is of normal daily concerns in the work, of repetitive motion labor performed in the privacy of home. There is a photo series of Klara restaging a scene at the bottom of a pool, cleaning, together with video imagery of the artist wearing a red hooded outfit and reenacting a kind of exercise video routine, which feels like housework. Klara becomes like clay in a Svankmajer hand, being arranged and re-arranged, as she does her calisthenics. The work speaks of drudgery, till repeated movements seem to turn exuberant, saying, Look, this is not dangerous, come in, the water is fine. “This may be for nothing, yet, it may be productive. You have to try. You question the value, but then you just get into a rhythm,” burning calories and unwanted toxins and becoming safer.

In the photo series and videos, her red garment gives her head to toe coverage. “Without background information, this can have catastrophic implications”, bringing to mind scenarios of contagion, solitary confinement and system breakdowns.

“In a pool, you are nearly naked, unprotected.” And maybe there is something, “you don’t want to be in touch with it, maybe it’s gross.” This garment isolates her body from the environment, keeps her separate until things stop feeling foreign. A boundary. She works in private, protected, waiting for the right time to re-sync and get out from under, but she seems to need, for a time, to be in it. To get to what is candy and what is not.

Q&A: Brian Paquette


Brian Paquette is a talented interior designer, local arts supporter, and all-around great guy. Coming from a conceptual art background, we knew he would be a great fit for our Arts Enthusiast series. Follow along as we pick his brain on his inspiration, his art collection, and how his work creates interactions between art and space, transforming houses into homes.


Vignettes: Tell us a little bit about what you do in your work and life.


Brian Paquette: Well, life first…right? I am from Newport, Rhode Island and moved to the west coast about 8 years ago looking for something different, I worked for textile company in Portland, before moving to Seattle and working in furniture, marketing and then finally taking the dive into my own venture. I started my firm about 5 years ago, just working out of my bedroom, trying to make ends meet and building relationships with the few small clients I had at the time. This industry, like most, is like snow, your success is built upon every individual snowflake hopefully coming together to make a snowball…and then hopefully a bigger snowball. I try to keep my life pretty simple, to be honest. I can be a pretty quiet person, who likes my own space and time to think, read and just be. The nature of this industry, always being on for your clients, reacting to their needs and building lifestyles for them can honestly be a bit draining, so I make sure to take a lot of quiet time. We work in many capacities.  I don’t know if I have a favorite between residential or commercial work, it just comes down to common ground and good conversation and a mutual respect for each other. I like to travel as much as possible and see whatever there is to see and breathe in…it is a real important part of the process for me. There is a very fuzzy line between my work and my life…and for the most part I am ok with that because I love my work so much, but other than work, I love music, collecting art, and just being with friends laughing.



Vignettes: How did you get to that point? I know you have a background in painting and was curious where / when the crossover began for your current work?


Brian Paquette: I went to school for painting but mostly focused on conceptual work and art history, doing installations that married all of this. I graduated and if I remember correctly, was thinking about and trying to get jobs in the retail design world…places like anthropologie or ralph lauren, doing windows and the like. That never panned out and so I started working for an interior design firm in Newport for a bit before deciding it was time to get off the island. There has been and will always be this hungry art school kid in me in everything I do. I want to constantly infuse our work with that spirit as much as possible, hence why I am so drawn to the arts here in Seattle and supporting it professionally as well as personally. I talk all the time about a “creative conversation”…this basically means that I want to instill in creatives that whatever they do can be a part of creating a better foundation for what is to come, for themselves or for the future. Art shouldn’t be seen as something that is far out, or unobtainable.



Vignettes: Who are some of the artists you are most inspired by currently?


Brian Paquette: oh so many! This is hard! Frank Stella, Chris Burden, Uta Barth, Brian W. Ferry, Guido Guidi, Richter, basically everything I saw in Amsterdam last summer. I am inspired by so much. I love architecture too and Vincent Van Duysen and John Pawson do things to spaces that is beyond words. Furniture designers like Perriand and Jeaneret as well. so much!



Vignettes: Whose work do you collect? I heard about a ceramic collection you have and would love to know what other pieces you have collected over the years.


Brian Paquette: I will begin by saying that a relationship to things as just something to have and collecting does not interest me at all. At the core of what we do in work at the firm is buy things for people and that can get me down a lot…thinking about consumption and people’s relationship with things…hence why we strive to work with as much American made goods as possible. I like to be able to call anyone on the phone who is making things for our clients…this translates into the work I collect. With ceramics…well to be honest, I flunked ceramics 1 in college three times before passing to graduate…same goes for photo…this is probably why I am drawn to these styles so much. Ceramics is so tactile. In any piece that I am attracted to, I can see the artists hand. I am very much into and have collected works by Ian McDonald, Cody Hoyt, Katy Krantz, Ben Medansky, Morgan Peck to name a few. My most recent have been a few pieces by ER Studio…stunning simplistic work. I love drawing and photography as well, some of my favorites in my collection are pieces by Joe Rudko, Megumi Shauna Arai, Serena Mitnik-Miller, Brian, W Ferry, Jeremy Miranda, Malin Gabriella Nordin…and a bunch of others too… I rotate a lot of it depending on mood and well…I change my house a lot…its in my blood to move things around and try new layouts.



Vignettes: As a designer, what are your thoughts / advice for individuals incorporating art within their home?


Brian Paquette: Go slow. It’s not about money…let’s get that out on the table. It’s about connection and how it transports you out from your shoes into another place and time. I am big into sense memory and art does that. Don’t buy art to fill a space…heck most of my art is leaning on the floor or a bookshelf, because I never intended it for a specific space.



Vignettes: What do you consider when selecting art?


Brian Paquette: Mostly what I said above…but I do like to try to connect to the artist in a personal way, it can seem too much like business otherwise. It’s truly visceral for me and there is no separation for me between being in a gallery seeing priceless master works and being in someone’s living room studio in Seattle, going through sketches. The fact that people are inspired around me is enough.



Vignettes: If you could own any works of art, what would they be? / Any works you’re lusting after right now?


Brian Paquette: Oh goodness…thats a tough one. I really like the fine art works the Doug Johnston is doing now. In terms of masters in the art world though…I have my list in my head…Albers, Barth, On Kawara, too long of a list.



Vignettes: Do you have daily or weekly rituals that you find important for you to take part in?


Brian Paquette: Well, at work we have what we call Friday input days, this was an idea I stole from my good friend Kate who owns a creative agency here in Seattle, she said and I am paraphrasing…we output Monday- Thursday and on Fridays we input. We visit local artist studios, furniture makers, lighting designers, galleries or just have some new fabric rep’s come in the office…sometimes Ill bring in a new book I have dog-eared. It’s important to me to instill to my staff that this job isn’t 9-5…and more importantly that it’s not a job, that it’s a lifestyle, yes we have our separation from of it of course and that’s healthy, but I want to breathe and see art and creativity all of the time and be immersed it. Interested is interesting.



Vignettes: What do you find to be important here in Seattle creative community and the world at large?


Brian Paquette: Connection and support. We are a small crowd here…and right now all eyes are on Seattle. Anyone that wants the attention and is doing good work can have it. Our collective humility will keep us honest but we must strive to level up constantly to what is going on outside our city. I love going to shows and seeing familiar faces and the fact that a platform like Vignettes exists is a testament to our ability to help each other out. There is so much change going on in Seattle right now…and the rest of the world. I think as artists and art supporters we have a chance to inspire people to slow down a bit.


EXPORTED: Kimberly Trowbridge | Studio of Oliveira Tavares in Portugal

One thing that makes travel so valuable for artists is the ability to observe and connect with artists from other regions, cultures, and communities. Today, Seattle-based artist Kimberly Trowbridge takes us along as she visits the studio of Portuguese painter, Oliveira Tavares.

Visiting the Studio of Oliveira Tavares, Borba, Portugal

A short drive through the countryside brings us to the atelier of the Portuguese painter, Oliveira Tavares (Antonio). His home/ studio is nestled in the landscape amid vineyards. As we arrive, an orange cat sneaks-up on a small frog and we watch as the agile green body leaps at the last instant into the water. Antonio welcomes us with great kindness and shows us his sensitive, breathtaking works on paper and a corridor lined with his paintings. He serves us green tea with mint.