Jason Brammer infuses his obsession with tubular structures and electricity into notions of the past and the present, creating a visual exegesis of what the world could become using sprays and brush strokes in hues of sepia and blue. Here's a guy who warms up his brain's right hemisphere by sketching on his studio's walls, adding and subtracting to the mural as inspiration blossoms under the guiding light of a Caravaggio print.
Some Chicagoans have become completely enamored with his fresh perspective on photo-surrealism, awarding his quirky and compelling work with the "Best of Painting" award during June's Wells Street Art Festival and offering him showings at the 2008 ARTropolis fair and Looptopia celebration. If you didn't have the chance to make it to these events, have no fear: Brammer keeps fairly busy with regular showings. Join Centerstage as we pick his creatively chaotic brain.
If I were to come to your neighborhood, where would you insist I visit?
If you came to my neighborhood (Logan Square), I would insist that we start out at El Cid on Saturday night for tacos and margaritas in their outdoor patio complete with a live Mexican duo that walks from table to table serenading everyone. I would then whisk you away to the Small Bar's beer garden for an amazing beer selection under the stars and have Anna put it on my tab. Sunday morning we would go to Lula Cafe for a glorious feast and then a "skillet cookie" around the corner at Dunlay's for dessert.
What's your favorite hidden gem in Chicago?
One of my favorite hidden gems in this city is Star Lounge, where the coffee and light fare are taken extremely seriously but not much else. This laid-back "collective" of young coffee aficionados excels at doing drawings in the foam of your latte and making jokes on the back porch. They also host live shows including "Say What Sundays", which is an open mic for rappers, and I've done some live painting there as well.
Tell me the best Chicago-related advice you've ever given or received.
The best advice I've ever gotten was from my studio landlord, Jim, who told me to memorize the street grid number system (and I'm still learning). If you understand how this is set up, and then learn the east/west numbers, I was told, "you'll never get lost." That's debatable.
Who are you watching as far as art goes?
I'm following the exterior murals of Jeff Zimmerman, who is doing a large piece on immigration in Pilsen this summer. I like the paintings of Gabe Lanza.
What's one thing we should know about you that we don't?
I used to be a professional bass player for the band Old Pike on Sony Records for about five years and we played in front of 18,000 people on New Year's Eve in 1999 opening for John Mellencamp.
What does your artistic future entail?
I see my art growing in a more sculptural direction and incorporating murals, live painting and music into the exhibits. This fall I will be doing an installation for a recording studio's lounge that will incorporate musical paintings connected with flowing tubes. I am currently working on a new series called "Time Machines" that are canvas paintings with attached antique hardware, tubing and cables flowing out of the pieces. I build them to look as if they were discovered in my great-grandfather's attic in 1901.