Brain Hofmeister's work encompasses multiple disciplines, from painting and drawing, to sculpture, screenprinting and embroidery. His subjects include nature, geometry, symbology, language, mysticism and spirituality. His opening this Friday at the Center features a new series of birds and corsets. Later this month he will also be hosting the Atomic Sketch Event – a badass good time, which features a panel of established and emerging artists from Chicago creating original works of art live at the Green Eye.

Colin Palombi had an online chat with Brian about his work and his upcoming events.

Brian: okay, I’m ready when you are.

Colin: It was cool to see you working at Spudnik Press the other day. I hadn’t seen your paintings up close before. What’s the inspiration behind the birds and corsets?

Brian: My subject matter comes to me pretty organically. I do quite a bit of collage work, which forces me to collect imagery. In general I’ve been a collector of “things” for most of my life. My mother loves birds and even though I was never conscious of it, I think I inherited that from her. The corsets came from just loving the aesthetic of vintage clothing and having access to some of that imagery. There is a kind of obvious metaphor that occurred between the freedom of birds and the constraints of women’s fashion. And then there is this weird gender statement about all these male birds inside female corsets.

Colin: I was thinking about the process for these paintings. You spend hours on a painting and chance everything with a final screen-print. There seems to be a lot of risk involved, is that important to the imagery?

Brian: Well, in the past year or so, I’ve been trying to come to terms with a couple things regarding art. Primarily, I have some ambivalent feelings about constraints and this has been one of the most cohesive bodies of work I’ve ever put together. I was challenging myself to work cohesively.

Anyone who is a screen printer knows that registration is of utmost importance to a successful image. Again, I’m constrained to force the image a certain way. I think this ties neatly with the imagery of freedom and constraint.

Again, much of this came about organically, and that is the essence of how I work as an artist. I find that my subconscious will take disparate elements and these sort of obvious metaphors appear.

Colin: In addition to your show on Friday, you have an Atomic Sketch event coming up. Speaking of collecting and working within certain parameters of freedom and limits – it almost seems like AS rifs on your interests, but with people instead of paint… I’m not sure if that’s accurate or fair to say. What inspired you to start AS?

Brian: There were a couple of things that contributed to that. Part of it was community building. As an artist I think I’ve always felt a little bit outside and I thought, “why not make my own community?”

Several years ago, Dominic, who is one of the co-hosts, and I were in San Francisco and went to an event called Sketch Tuesday at a gallery called 111 Minna. Basically, we loved it and said “we could do this.” It took us about 1 month to organize our first event and we just had our 3 year anniversary last month.

I think Atomic Sketch appeals to artists because they get to sketch in a social environment and often get at least their drinking money covered – if not a little more. And it appeals to non-artists because they get to watch art being made and then get to buy it. So the work has a story to go with it – and it’s super affordable. I think to non-artists, art can be almost a mystical process and Atomic Sketch de-mystifies it. I only hope I don’t get blacklisted like magicians do when they reveal their illusions to the public.

Colin: me too! Thanks for chatting Brian!

Brian: cool. thanks!

Upcoming Shows:
August 19th FREE / NOT FREE opening at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, 7–9 PM
August 25th Atomic Sketch, at the Green Eye on Western Avenue right under the Blue Line, 6–11 PM