Transformations: 6 Paintings of Carolyn Brunelle
- Happy to Be Here
- Night Owl
- Barn Dance
Carolyn Brunelle’s April-May 2020 show at the Groveland Gallery in Minneapolis, Transformations, presented 22 paintings suggestive in their shape and dynamic in their bold and opposing colors. Brunelle, a native Minnesotan, maintains a studio in Saint Paul’s Midway neighborhood. She has exhibited throughout the state for 30 years and her work is included in numerous private and local corporate collections including Stinson Leonard Street, Piper Jaffray, Ameriprise Financial, Travelers, Wells Fargo and Plymouth Church.
Here is what Groveland Gallery says about Transformations:
Brunelle’s abstract images are richly colored and loosely painted. Abstract forms allude to a variety of subjects from birds to dancers and evoke a sense of movement and rhythm. Brunelle employs a technique that requires applying multiple layers of paint to the canvas, followed by sanding and scraping away paint to reveal multiple layers of pigment and varied textures. The resulting paintings embody an intentionality that belies their rigorous and rough handling “My work is a combination of plan, chance and imagination,” she writes. “I layer paint, then sand or scrape the surface to see what is revealed. I aim to create a subconscious connection between experimentation and artistic judgment. It is an act of faith.”
Carolyn’s pieces were so vivid, I immediately started thinking of them in musical terms. The musical process of layering harmonies and sculpting time is a set of transformations of its own. I chose six paintings, keeping Carolyn’s titles.
“Happy to Be Here” is all affirmation, a set of continuous variations on a short idea. “Night Owl” marches forth in ever more cheeky dotted rhythms. “Twist” is a saucy cha-cha that recalls the early 60s, with a few Beatles references thrown in. “Swiftly” is a whirring scherzo with one hand on the white keys, one on the black. I have swifts in my neighborhood, and I was also fascinated by a video of swifts swirling by the thousands, then pouring into a school chimney in Portland, Oregon. “Piano” sings in a voice of deep, vibrant red, cast in that quintessential piano form, the nocturne. “Barn Dance” is an uncomplicated rondo, alive with movement and cheer.
For another suite of short pieces, see Soft Summer Airs.