Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tom Brady: Why is it Wonderful? An Art of Experiences

Exhibition Dates: April 2, 2010 - May 2, 2010
First Friday Gallery hours: March 5th from 6:00 – 10:00 pm
Opening Reception; April 10, 2010 6pm – 10 pm

Not much to write about Brady. Less is more. No mystery here. Besides, truth doesn’t require explanation. Truth, you ask? What does Art have to do with truth? For the record, truth participates in everything.

Tom Brady is the Knapp Gallery’s senior staffer. Here at the Knapp Gallery, we divide our calendar year by his show; pre and post Brady. Accordingly, Brady is our premier exhibition of the year. My use of the word premier has as much to do with who Brady is, as it does with what his work represents. However, these two independent truths play out in marked divergent results. In one regard, the quality of Tom Brady’s paintings makes this show easier to produce and promote. Conversely, who Tom Brady is makes for a more difficult setup.

Truth: Tom Brady is the consummate professional. He knows what he wants and how he wants it. He should after all; he’s been honing his craft for nearly 37 years. Within this level of maturation, Tom has developed better than satisfactory communication skills; he will speak his mind. You don’t have to guess about what he is thinking.
Periodically, Tom will send an email to share an idea of promotion or an image, or a thought. I’ve deduced, this is Tom’s way of saying he desires conversation. Rarely are these conversations about his paintings. The bottom line is he doesn’t believe there is much to talk about his paintings. Tom desires one thing from a viewer, an emotional response.

Truth: Tom’s paintings speak for themselves. They show well and photograph well. Bold color and line drive his complex compositions. Like the literary genre Hyperbole, massive textural gestures exaggerate Tom’s everyday common situational vignettes. Despite a slight sheen, a finish that Tom adores, the heavy texture of Tom’s aggressive paint shows well on the internet, show-cards and magazine
advertisements. WYSIWYG – “What you see is what you get.” Visually, Brady’s work translates remarkably well into common language. An Abstract- Constructionist by nature, Brady’s paintings hold to some stringent ideals of structure, form and representationalism. Beyond effect of converging and divergent line, defying shadow and light, Depth of field, a term normally associated with photography, is a tool deftly employed by Brady. Steeped in traditional impressionist roots, albeit with the aggressive hand of an expressionist, Brady’s interpretation declares, demands even a rethinking of acceptable genre-based nomenclature
That was the easy stuff. The hard stuff is keeping step with the demands of his seniority. No need looking over his shoulder. Tom doesn’t need any help. No hand holding or studio visits. Simply put, Tom gets it done; he even comes ready with a gallery layout of his paintings and two copies of “his” release form. He delivers the work. I hang the work, with his help. Appropriate height is key to a satisfying experience with Tom’s work. Okay, now for the nuts and bolts. Here is what most folk don’t know about Tom’s work. Beginning with a street sketch, Tom squirrels away a gazillion sketches yearly. Looking back over his sketches he culls the first round returning in another 6 months for round two. Those that make the grade go into a different box. Final round drafts make it to the “pastel” elimination round. For each of his final paintings, Tom completes a pastel version first.

The pastel semi-final allows Tom advance notice of his palette. These studies are paramount to the resulting freedom and aggressive brushstroke. Each painting requires the use of 40 to 50 paintbrushes. With applying such heavy paint, overworking the paint runs to brown. Pre-knowledge of direction permits Tom to get in and get out keeping his colors pure; Tom’s whites are white. Clearly, he is a process-driven individual. This plays out exponentially in the marketing of his work. Congruently, Tom believes in a commensurate marketing process; each step building on the previous. Promotion wise, we do exceed our normal monthly resources and amp up our advertising to meet the demands of his seniority. The difficulty, the increase in work, is the education process that accommodates a Brady hanging.

I was wrong; I do have something to say. I have to be careful here. I get comments from this blog. A latest comment warned me about my word usage, saying “Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.” Tom’s artwork is “World Class.” I’ll eat these words without salt or pepper. The sad part is the Philadelphia Art Community is unaware of the National Treasure they have in Tom Brady. Unfortunately, they are waiting for him to die first; I am saddened by this.

Okay, here is the inside dope, Tom chose Philadelphia over Boston and New York. To a degree, he is a visual historian of Philadelphian Culture, Architecture and Landscape. His commitment to Philadelphia aligns concomitantly with the commitment to his craft. Despite the significant list of Philadelphia-based Brady collectors, there is not a demonstrable Philadelphia consensus claiming Tom Brady as their own, as he has claimed Philadelphia his own. I should not have to “shop” Tom’s paintings in New York to quantify or validate their caliber. Interestingly, New York will come to Philadelphia for him. Sadly, the same was true for Jim Bloom, my March exhibition. New York loves his work also. I am not for a moment suggesting artistic “misfittedness”. However, I am saying, if Philadelphia is to claim stand alone “World Class Notoriety” for its Art Community, “buy-in” of its world-class artists is mandatory.

Interestingly, most recently, I had a conversation with Rick Snyderman, of the Snyderman-Works Gallery. Rick Believes the climate is perfect for exponential growth in Philadelphia’s Arts and Culture community. That plays out with a significant political thrust and an understanding that an increase in Arts and Culture directly correlates to the growth of our tourism component of the City. Forgive my long windedness. Bottom line is that until recently, Philadelphia may not have been ready to accommodate the likes of Tom Brady or Jim Bloom. However, now, the growth curve having flattened out we have agreement from a significant player at ground zero in the game that believes we have entered into a period of receptivity, despite the lingering economic factors. I’m concurring.