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Art and the City

His paintings are character studies of tiny slivers of our universe—the vacant lots or the other scraps of human habitat ignored by beings with less character. You know those places—the losers in our cultural beauty pageant conveniently discounted until they become economically worthy of cosmetic surgery.

Brett Busang

Brett Busang claims to be a representational painter. No visual tricks. Nothing fancy…just the facts. Nope, look again. The magic is in the selection of the scene—those all-too-familiar places we drive by unconsciously. It’s also in the carefully balanced composition of form and color that extends dignity to those derelict domains.

These are, first and foremost, paintings. And like all very good and successful paintings, they are about paint: the preparation and placement of pigment. They are about the construction of color compositions and motifs and forms dramatized through the placement of lights and darks.

All of that creates a complete story. They don’t need a written description but Brett Busang is also a novelist and art critic. Looking at one of his paintings while reading his accompanying narrative is a marriage of two art forms, each dedicated to the other.

Brett was born and grew up in Memphis. He started art school at Memphis State in the 70s when “Contemporary Art” was king. He swam in those Contemporary currents until he discovered the social realism of the 30s and 40s. He fell in love with such practitioners as Edward Hopper and Charles Burchfield, but the works and bios of such artists could only be found deep in university library stacks, so he learned by searching, by studying, and of course painting.

Brett loves and understands structures and is known for his house portraits. Your home has a personality, and he knows how to find it. You can see his work this month at his neighborhood coffee shop, Sidamo at 417 H St NE.


“At Fifth and H”, acrylic on masonite, 30 x 24, c 2004, Brett Busang

Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art
Do you like pretty paintings? Sure, everyone does—from the grand landscapes of the Hudson River School, to the abstracts of the “Color Field School” of Washington DC. Art that isn’t pleasant, or pictures that make you uncomfortable are less likely to sell. I say that from personal experience as well as observation.

To most people, a “realist” painter is one who makes the forms on the canvas appear as something recognizable, real looking. A cow looks just like a cow and a car looks like a car. Usually, the scene is more of an idealized dreamscape than stark reality. Which is fine, except that sometimes you need the real thing.

Brett Busang (See: Artist Profile) began art school when “Realism” was scoffed at by the edgy purveyors of art education. “Pop Art,” was still afloat from the 60s and there was an uneasy tolerance of abstract art, but it was the hysterical grab for an individualistic crusade that prevailed— your own christened “movement” and a page in an art history book was the Holy Grail. Traditional representative painting was the cockroach in the kitchen. It was a good way to get stomped on by the profs.

Brett gives you the real thing—the way things really are. And you don’t have to go to Venice or the Grand Canyon for the perfect subject.

He says, “People who paint pictures that are not overtly “appealing” rarely have to compete for subject matter; it is anywhere and everywhere. For the realist, the search begins on the inside and spreads in an outward direction toward a world that rarely fails to provide.”

So, take a few minutes to look at Brett’s real thing. You might find that derelict domain struggling for dignity is where real beauty lies.

“Liquor and Hardware”, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 32, c 2005, Brett Busang

At the Galleries

CHAW Open Show
Capitol Hill Arts Workshop
545 7th St. SE
To May 31
This is the 7th annual “Open Juried Exhibition.” The theme is “Our World” and was juried by Eric Hope, a curator and writer based here in Washington. This is a terrific show with a great variety of styles, techniques, and approaches. www.chaw.org.

Hill Center Galleries
921 Pennsylvania. Ave. SE
May 3-June 23
Opening Recep: Wed. May 9, 6:30-8:30
This new exhibit features mostly figurative work.S(see artists work and bios on www.hillcenterdc.org/galleries.) There is also an installation by artist Philip Livingston who will give a presentation on his work during the reception.

  • David Amoroso: “Frida y los Machos”
    David Amoroso paints portraits of Attitude—the fierce determination and steely pride of those who have had to fight for everything they have, be it in Mexico or the United States. He combines motifs that at first seem incongruent, like flower patterns and tough guys. He also includes portraits of Mexican artist and icon Frida Kahlo.
  • Anthony Bremer: “Rhythm of Color”
    With his preferred medium of ink on paper, his recent work “incorporates the unlimited and exhilarating rhythm of color.” Look for the hidden meanings and different perspectives.
  • Nicole Ida Fossi: “Reveal/Conceal”
    Using oil paint and colored pencils on paper, Nicole Ida Fossi focuses on juxtaposing bodies to explore connections—how a person changes when other figures are added to the composition, and how body language and color communicate a narrative.
  • Marily Mojica: “A World in Color”
    Color patterns are the central element in Marily Mojica’s portraits…and her life. “I surround myself with color and anything with color gets my attention immediately.”
  • Leslie M. Nolan: “Flip-Side”
    Leslie Nolan’s acrylic paintings depict what is felt rather than what is seen. He focuses on moods, as interpreted by body language, color and gestural brushwork.
  • Dilip Sheth: “Figuratively Speaking”
    Dilip is featuring, for the first time, “figure-drawing compositions in a series.” It begins with imagined subjects and evolves into live models. Each composition presents a feeling of redundancy “and a tribute to my late dad who was a collector.”
  • Philip Livingston: “A Natural History of Washington, DC”
    Philip Livingston has created a five-panel piece for installation in the Lincoln Hall. It is a “visual poem” using symbolic images found near the Hill Center. The central image of the Ash tree on the Hill Center grounds was his starting point and the other visual symbols grew over time as the installation came together.

Fran Abrams
Foundry Gallery
2118 – 8th St. NW
May 2-27
Opening reception, Sat., May 5, 5 – 8
Artist talk and poetry reading: Sun. May 20, 2:30 – 5
Fran Abrams creates award-winning art using polymer clay. The 3-D art hangs on the wall like a painting and each piece uses lines as a design element.  Fran writes poetry as well and For the Love of Lines, “combines my two creative passions, one old and one new.”  www.foundrygallery.org.

Touchstone Gallery
May 4 – 27
Opening Reception: Friday, May 4, 6 – 8:30 pm
Artist Talk: Sunday, May 20, 1 – 3 pm
In the main gallery, using the theme, “Borders,” Touchstone member artists depict boundaries: visible or invisible, cultural, or political.
In Galleries B and C are the two artists who have been awarded the “Touchstone Foundation for the Arts 2016-2018 Emerging Artist Fellowships.” Susi Cora, in “Highwire” invites you to explore how memories are coveted and nurtured.
In “Seeking Refuge” by Carol Ann Moore, her stunning lithographic and intaglio prints reflect the artist’s “personal response to her encounters in the natural world.” They capture your emotions as well as your attention.

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