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My Vashon Hjem: Images of Vashon Made From Cut up Pop and Beer Cans Nailed to Plywood

Hardware Store Restaurant, Vashon Island

August 6 – September 1.

My dad’s family emigrated from Norway and made Vashon their Hjem (Norwegian for home), in 1918.  As fourth generation Islander I feel the Island is part of me. So many important things happen in my life here, that the places where they happen develop a rich layer of meaning and connection. 

From 2011 to 2019 I was on the Board of Directors at the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Association, during that period I poured over all the Island history that I could find at the museum. The research led to my book, Town of Vashon 1890-1950 and a deeper understanding of my Vashon heritage. The pieces in this show are a manifestation of my Island heritage and connection to Vashon.

Like most everybody I spent the Covid year at home. In August 2020 my son and grandson moved out of our house. Becoming empty nesters, and basically confined to home, was a big change in our lives. We converted our attached 2 car garage, that was our son’s room, into a studio space where I could do tin can art and my wife Tara could do ceramics. We ended up making art everyday and I was able to create this large body of work.

In the 1990s I used to frequent the Mia Gallery in Seattle, know for showing folk and outsider art, I was inspired by the artists use of everyday and recycled materials. I have always worked with recycled materials to create art, in 2011 I started a series of Vashon and Northwest scenes created from cut up pop and beer cans nailed to plywood. I had a show at the Blue Heron Gallery, since then I have continued to create the tin can pieces.

My tin can work allows me to create images in a kind of sculptural way, instead of a painterly way, which fits my way of doing things. I am much better with tools and dimensional materials than pencil, paper, canvas or brush. Unlike a painter I cannot blend, tint, or change colors to create depth, light, shade, or form. I like the challenge of using a can’s, colors, patterns, text and surface to create depth, light, shade and form. I also use the cans ability to take texture and lift off the surface and become 3 dimensional, to help me tell the visual story.

 I’m excited to share, and see this work hung in the oldest building in town!

Brian Brenno

Selections from the show

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