Rural Subjects @ Theiss Gallery
Friday 14 June @ 13:30:59
by J. P. Johnson
All of the women in Brantmeier’s paintings wear caps. Not fedoras or baseball caps but instead tight “swimming caps” that cover all of their hair. Instead of being dressed in gaudy clothing, Brantmeier’s figures all wear traditional dress complete with single- toned floor length skirts and nondescript tops. She calls her portraits of these unadorned ladies “a hybrid of 15th century Dutch painting and American colonial folk portraiture.”
If you have a solid sense of either one of these eras in art history you are free to agree or voice dissent. For the rest of us bumpkins her paintings can be described as plain portraits of women that center on expression and pose.
Brantmeier states that she wants to dispel misconceptions of “rural women” with this collection of work and with each portrait, she pushes to show the pride and dignity of her country subjects.
But more than wanting to illustrate the simple elegance of rural women Brantmeier invites the viewer to examine her subjects outside of time and without any of the classic social signifiers we are used to seeing.
Brantmeier’s painted ladies are not part of any genre so our eyes are left with only the basics. For instance when you look at her painting entitled “Celeste” you are drawn to look at the positioning, expression and gesture of her subject, both because these elements are so well-presented and because they are the only thing to look at.
Those that do not “get” Brantmeier’s theme of painting women without all of their typical sexual and social identifiers may like her work for its consistent technical achievement and clean, finished appearance.
Her paintings are almost uniformly polished and all of Brantmeier’s figures stand as meticulously detailed portraits of the female form.
After visiting Brantmeier’s work in Theiss’ main gallery make sure visit the gallery’s new annex space and see samples of artists’ work from past shows.
Exhibit continues through July 19. Kellie Rae Theiss Gallery, 400 First Ave. N., Mpls. 612-339-1094