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Frank Bramblett No Intention

WoodmereArtMuseum


Woodmere extends sincere thanks and appreciation to the Klorfine Foundation, Paula and Warren Suss, CRW Graphics, and an anonymous donor for their generous support of this catalogue and exhibition.


Frank Bramblett No Intention

CONTENTS

Foreword by William R. Valerio 2 A Conversation with Frank Bramblett 4 On Frank Bramblett 36 by Anthony Campuzano To Mentor Is To Educate: The Innate Instincts of Frank Bramblett 40 by Marta Sanchez Chronology 44 Works in the Exhibition 54

March 7–June 21, 2015

WoodmereArtMuseum


FOREWORD I came to know Frank Bramblett and understand

Woodmere’s staff has been as professional and

something about his work through other artists’

nimble as always in preparing every aspect of

expressions of admiration. Dona Nelson, a great

this exhibition. In particular I would like to express

painter and colleague of Frank’s at Temple

special praise for Rick Ortwein, Woodmere’s Deputy

University’s Tyler School of Art, suggested that his

Director for Exhibitions. Rick is the lead organizer

work would be a powerful anchor in Woodmere’s

of the exhibition. He was also a student of Frank’s

2012 Elemental exhibition, which explored

at Tyler, and the mutual affection between Rick and

manipulations of natural substances in work by

Frank has made the collaborative process feel so

Philadelphia artists. I recall distinct conversations

perfect.

with artists as diverse as Neysa Grassi, Dina Wind, Murray Dessner, Rubens Ghenov, and Anthony Campuzano, each of whom pulled me aside to tell me how honored they were to have their work hung in the same galleries with Frank’s. I learned that,

Frank is the lucky husband of Karen Bramblett, father of Reid, and grandfather of Kemper and Luca. We are grateful to all of them for assisting with this exhibition and for sharing so much of Frank with us.

regardless of scale, his work has a centering power,

As with every project, Woodmere must raise every

a kind of forceful directness that commands esteem.

penny that is needed to cover expenses. We extend

It also inspires curiosity, especially the curiosity of

special thanks to the Klorfine Foundation, Paula

other artists, who, because they are also “makers,”

and Warren Suss, CRW Graphics, and an

become engaged by the palpable intellect and

anonymous donor for supporting this exhibition.

“rules” that underpin Frank’s process. When I eventually described some of this reaction to Dona, she explained to me that Frank was indeed, in her estimation, one of Philadelphia most influential artists. This was not only because of the visual drama and charisma of his work, but also because of his impact on the many students he had taught in his nearly forty years at Tyler. I continue to hear the stories: many of the artists who today call North Philadelphia and Fishtown home, so many of whom were trained at Tyler, recognize Frank as an important inspiration or mentor. Woodmere is dedicated to telling the stories of Philadelphia’s art and artists, and we are deeply honored to present Frank Bramblett: No Intention.

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WILLIAM R. VALERIO, PHD

The Patricia Van Burgh Allison Director and CEO


Knot Nothing, 1999, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist) FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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A CONVERSATION WITH FRANK BRAMBLETT

On September 18, 2014, Rachel McCay, Woodmere’s Assistant Curator; Rick Ortwein, Woodmere’s Deputy Director of Exhibitions; and Hildy Tow, The Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Curator of Education, spoke with artist Frank Bramblett about his upcoming exhibition, No Intention. RICK ORTWEIN: Frank, we’re all very excited about

BRAMBLETT: It’s a combination of both. The

your exhibition at Woodmere. We purposefully

space has always impacted what I’ve been able to

avoided using the term retrospective in the title of

create physically. In Lansdale, my studio was on

the show, but the work spans your career.

the second floor of an 18th-century farmhouse. The

FRANK BRAMBLETT: Yes, it does. The term career

implies a lengthy exhibition record, especially commercial success. That has not been my path. I have always given myself permission to follow my instincts rather than trends, to develop my work rather than some signature style. I think what everyone will notice is that the work has undergone major changes. I think some people

ceilings were really low and claustrophobic. The walls were interrupted by windows and doors so I couldn’t work on them. I began to pour thin layers of acrylic paint into deep plywood and cardboard frames on the floor that shaped the canvas and contained the liquid. I wanted to make the paintings feel as contained as those rooms made me feel.

believe that an artist’s body of work is supposed

In 1975 we moved to a loft space at Third and Vine

to look alike, but mine does not. I see my work as

in Philadelphia. The large studio allowed me to

being divided among the various places where

work at any size and in any direction. My paintings

I lived. Every time I moved, my work changed

became vertical.

significantly. That’s part of the reason why it can be understood so well in terms of place.

The space affects not only the shape, but also the materials. For example, I had done a lot of stucco

ORTWEIN: Is the actual place incidental? I

repair on the farmhouse in Lansdale. When I moved

understand that it’s a way of organizing the work

to the city I began to formulate stucco-like paints.

overall, but, for example, when you left Lansdale

Conventional brushes were ineffective in moving

in the mid-1970s you were pouring, and when you

the thick material, so I used stiff brushes for floor

moved to Old City your hand was more visible in

scrubbing. Along the edges of the painting, thick

gestures and the material changed, it got thicker.

material built up, creating gestural brushmarks.

But are the changes at all specific to the actual

My construction repair thus informed my material

place?

choices. It’s a cyclical method of working, where I’m informed by the space as I live in it or alter it.

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ORTWEIN: Let me ask you another question about

place. Did you stop pouring because you felt that you couldn’t pour anymore, that is, because you felt you couldn’t make the same kind of work you made in one place? Or was the change due to the fact that you had exhausted the idea, the pursuit? BRAMBLETT: The need to shift in my work was

Left: White Face, 1974, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist) Below: Highboy, 1973, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

never about exhausting an idea. Ideas can shrivel even before the paint dries. I’m a worker, and many of the changes came because I periodically exhaust myself. I’ll drive myself into the ground with work for a couple of years and then take an extended break. During some of those breaks I changed addresses and environments: the city, a neighborhood, a country place, a loft, the suburbs. When I eventually got back into my studio, I would often return to earlier techniques and styles only to discover that, to me, those works—those “ideas”—were already complete. RACHEL MCCAY: You’ve been in Philadelphia since

1972, but you’ve changed your work, haven’t you? Does that mean you’ve figured out how to make shifts without physically moving? BRAMBLETT: Yes, that’s true. In terms of the

pour paintings, I got to a point when I decided to try stretching and mounting canvases that I’d previously stapled directly to the wall. In my effort to make the stiff object conform to a stretcher, I encountered a problem. The painting would bend a little, but not break. It was winter and there was snow on the ground. I thought I should bury the paintings under the snow, wait until they were frozen, and snap the edges as if I were cutting glass. It worked. Then I thought if cold could snap edges, FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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what would heat do? So I used a blowtorch to bend

I incorporated this into a course I developed during

other edges. I was also exploring the corner folds,

the last few years I taught at Tyler. It was called

or placing corners on the side and on the front of

Pigment, Paint, Method, Materials. I taught students

a surface. In White Face (1974), the layers of paint

about paint, but they couldn’t buy anything at an

were too thick to fold, so the painting got to be dog-

art store. We went on field trips to paint stores,

eared. Had it not been a snowy winter, these works

Lowes, Home Depot, fabric shops, and all sorts of

might have taken an entirely different direction.

stuff. I’d say to them, OK, this item sold at an art

HILDY TOW: I remember you describing that

process when we exhibited Highboy (1973) at Woodmere in 2012. BRAMBLETT: The work becomes a collaboration

of materials, physics, my methods, and the physical state of the world around me. The valleys in the surface of Highboy are the result of fissuring. At that time, acrylic formulations were, at best, about 50

supply store and this item at Home Depot are the exact same thing. This is Liquitex medium, and this happens to be called kitchen floor wax, polymer. This one costs $25; the other one costs $6.50. MCCAY: I’m not surprised that you’re so interested

in materials, because all of your work has a sculptural quality that you achieve through the materials you use. Your “scrap” paintings are great examples of this.

percent emulsion, 50 percent water. You lost a lot of

BRAMBLETT: In the mid-1970s I was doing those

dimension and surface area to evaporation. The top of

paintings that were tall and thin. To make the paintings

the acrylic dried out quickly and formed a film on the

I was constantly holding a board in my left hand to

very top. The water couldn’t get out from underneath

clean off my knife. It was a little short board and I was

and started to shrink. This caused fissuring.

scraping and cleaning my knife. Those scrap paintings

TOW: What type of paint do you use? BRAMBLETT: I use cheap paint so I can add

whatever filler I want to it. TOW: What kind of fillers do you add? BRAMBLETT: My primary filler is a specific grade of

calcium carbonate, marble dust. I also use a DuPont product called Celite, which is a matting agent. It’s

evolved from this motion. One day as I was wiping the knife on the scrap board, I said, that’s a painting. TOW: Looking at the striations on Rose/Black

(1979), did you do that or was it part of the wood? BRAMBLETT: It’s in the wood. TOW: Part of your practice then is also finding the

right piece of wood?

crushed unicellular calcium, like teeny tiny shells. I

BRAMBLETT: Yes. At first, I just started shaping

use these things in varying degrees, but the one I

the paint relative to the limits of the short boards

use the most is marble dust. Marble dust doesn’t

in the studio. Then I began shaping the paint more

change the color that much, it dulls it a little bit,

consciously. I began thinking about the twisting

but if you add any of the others it dulls it a lot. I

and rotating actions of the radius and ulna of the

use other fillers, such as mica powder that creates

arm, and the carpal bones of the wrist, as I pulled

sheen, volcanic ash that adds absorbency, and

the material along the short length of the scrap

aluminum hydrate that builds body without density.

wood. The first moves were natural, but limited, and

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Rose/Black, 1979, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist) FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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BRAMBLETT: When I was low on pieces of wood,

I went to Tague Lumber, to rummage through their bins of exotic woods. So I went there and I bought a bunch of mahoganies, ebonies, cherries, all sorts of different woods. I would call these paintings with a predetermined set of rules, logic paintings because there were many internal decisions that determined the outcome. I decided, based on the scrap size, which was mostly four feet or less, that I was going to use two-foot sections because that’s what my reach was. I got two-foot sections of all sorts of different woods. I was also looking for color in the wood. I decided to make the paint the width of a diagonal from one corner to the other. TOW: Were you following the grain? BRAMBLETT: Yes, I was. If you look closely at the

wood, the color choices I made in building up to the last color were based on the colors I saw in the Above, left: Blue Black on Black Walnut, 1978, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist); above, right: Red on Cherry, 1978, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

wood. So each layer would alternate color that was an exaggeration of a color I saw in the wood. I was coming out of an era of minimalism and of work that was centered on theme and variation, which

did not clearly define the gestures of the arm and

was obviously supported by the commercial market.

hand. As I recognized that the scrap was evolving

ORTWEIN: But your work has always avoided the

into form, I began to take responsibility for my

kind of stylistic unity or cohesion that collectors are

choices. Recognizing the color and grain pattern

often attracted to.

of the wood demanded another response. From time to time a work pushes me to make rules early in the process that determine future choices. The rules for these twist and flip works grew out of the limitations of my natural gestures and the qualities of the materials: the thick paint, the hue and grain of the wood scraps. Within a week or so, I had thirty to forty new twist and flip paintings in the cooker. TOW: Yes, they’re remarkably gestural.

BRAMBLETT: Yes, and that makes curators, writers,

and especially dealers uncomfortable. A longtime acquaintance, David Reed, was to visit a studio space that I sublet in Chelsea. I didn’t work in the studio, but used it as a place to crash in New York and to invite people interested in seeing my work. David has always had an active practice of visiting studios, and, during this visit he brought along a curator, Lisa Melandri. As we were introduced, she perked up when she learned that I was from

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Philadelphia, and told me that she was the acting

they had to know what it was to be an isolated,

director of Galleries at Moore (College of Art and

private, studio artist. I also had rules about words

Design). As she left, she told me that she’d be in

they couldn’t use. The first few weeks were always

touch, and that she wanted to do an exhibition of

about eliminating words such as “like.” I had a whole

my work. When she came back a couple months

list of words, including “color.” Avoiding the word

later, she seemed surprised to find works that were

“interesting” proved particularly difficult for them.

radically different. She was looking for work that

I wanted the students to be explicit about what

was identical to the work she had already seen.

they were saying. Someone would say, “I like the

What she had seen were tonal works that were very

color,” and you would hear this moan. They knew

dark, but months later they had a vibrancy that

they weren’t going to get away with it. It became

was totally different. Despite her initial surprise, I

harder and harder for them to explain and to put

did have a show at Moore that included the work

words together until they developed a vocabulary

she had seen as well as some of the current work

that truly forced them to examine closely and think

I was creating. [Melandri is now the director of the

critically about the work.

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.]

MCCAY: Those lessons are worthwhile because

MCCAY: Yes, in the commercial world there’s a need

you’re preparing them for what’s expected of them

to be able to say, “Oh, that’s a Frank Bramblett.”

in the professional world, and challenging them to

People are sometimes surprised that an artist’s

articulate ideas about other artists’ work, not just

body of work could look so different.

their own.

TOW: Could you talk a little bit about your

BRAMBLETT: In one of my classes, rather than

teaching?

discussing how painters made decisions, we

BRAMBLETT: After a few years of trying to teach, I

gave up on the idea of trying to teach. Talking about art should be an open exchange that shapes both the student and the teacher. I didn’t see myself as a teacher, but as someone who worked with young, aspiring artists. Yes, my job at Tyler supported my studio practice, but it also gave me the freedom to take risks, to test materials and processes. Working with the Tyler students, who were often filled with a fierce urgency to form their own identities, was a constant reminder to work with their kind of fearlessness. In my class, I had rules. For example, you had to grade yourself. But you had to justify the grade, and I was insistent about it. I would talk to them if they were having problems, or if they had problems they would talk to me, but

screened and discussed films. We began with Rashomon (Kurosawa, 1950), which deals with fabricating identity and opened the door for countless films on that topic. We compared Rear Window (Hitchcock, 1954) with a contemporary redo made for the box office, Disturbia (Caruso, 2007). We watched Groundhog Day (Ramis, 1993), paying careful attention to how the actors skillfully maintained consistency compared to the subtle changes in the background that occurred in each repeated scene. We watched films that chronicled filmmakers as they struggled with their craft in Hearts of Darkness (Coppola, 1991) and Burden of Dreams (Blank, 1982), the latter of which followed Werner Herzog in his effort to make his film Fitzcarraldo (Herzog, 1982). We ended

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with the structural film Zorns Lemma (Frampton, 1970) which, over the course of forty-five minutes, converts the twenty-six letters of the alphabet into twenty-six moving images. MCCAY: I know you don’t have firm titles or dates

for some of your work, but I know that you see place as being an integral component of your artistic development. Can we return to some of your work from the late 1970s? BRAMBLETT: We moved three times in

Philadelphia, in our first six years. I lived in an old tobacco warehouse at 3rd and Vine Streets. First were the tall black paintings like NiO (1976) and FeO (1976). Then one day while I was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I was attracted to the sculpted and gilded frames. The next day, I painted a few of my small black paintings with gold. Soon I was using massive amounts of paint to dramatically shape the form of new paintings. I added fiberglass cloth to strengthen the acrylic with marble dust. As the painting arrived at a shape that I identified as figurative or object like, I coated it with layers of gold powders in encaustic, and polished the surface. Icarus (1977) and Ibis (1977) are from this period. I see the big ones as standing bodies, and the small ones as portraits. In the late 1970s I moved to Wyncote. I began to spend more time at museums looking at painting, and teaching myself the art history I never studied as a student. At that time, I was interested in not only the image, but also the baggage of the image, including the interpretations, meanings, and their combinations relative to cultural issues, or political issues, mostly cultural issues. And I wanted to absorb the complexity of all of that in an image that was complex to make, but that I hoped could then reside in a place of just being there. At

Above: Gold Zigzag, 1976, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

this time I also began my effort to self-chronicle art

Right: Icarus, 1977, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

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FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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Oh No, Yoko! Where What Where, 1982, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

history, and what I knew of art history, to associate

They came from an inventory in my head that I’ve

and make connections. Everything I do has to do

seen in newspapers and other sources. I would

with how things connect. At this time I was also

arrange the images and then I began to see faces in

making tiny drawings that were no more than 3 by

the arrangement of images. The images that came

5 inches. I made tons of them and they were very

together reminded me of figures like John Lennon

simple images that took less than a minute to draw.

and others. Works like Oh No, Yoko! Where What Where (1982) came out of this period.

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MCCAY: This is a monumental homage to art

BRAMBLETT: The mosaics were inspired by my

history. Matisse, Picasso, and others are included.

investigations into art history. I also selected types

There are so many elements. In this work you use

of floor samples that irritate rocks because the work

floor samples and other materials to create the

was inspired by rock music and the assassination of

mosaics. Is there any connection between the

John Lennon.

material used and the references to art history?

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Hypothetical Marriage of Monsieur Marcel Duchamp and Miss Helen Keller, 1982, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

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ORTWEIN: Another of your works from this

TOW: Could you talk about living and working in

period is Hypothetical Marriage of Monsieur Marcel

Rome as a professor in the Tyler program there?

Duchamp and Miss Helen Keller (1982).

BRAMBLETT: When I was first offered the chance

BRAMBLETT: On the left and right sides are profiles

to go to Rome, I said no, but I quickly changed my

of Keller and Duchamp, and across it is a poem

mind and the next day I decided to go. It was the

by Keller, “Analogies in Sense Perception” written

right decision, because by continuing to have an

backwards in braille. The braille is made from raised

occupation I wasn’t pigeonholed by the dealers, the

charcoal, but it’s surrounded by a shattered mirror,

market, and the collectors who would have driven

so if you touched it you would cut up your hands.

what I was doing and made me unhappy. Looking

It does refer to Duchamp’s work To Be Looked at

back, the two years in Rome were the best of my

(from the Other Side of the Glass) with One Eye,

Tyler experience. I didn’t have to play the New York

Close to, for Almost an Hour (1918). It’s backed with

game, I got to see lots of art and experience other

a mirror and that’s me in the very center. In the very

cultures, and the lifestyle—even though it was in a

top there’s a little panel where I painted with my

big city—was like being back in my small town in

face. I took a broken mirror and I put plastic over

Alabama.

my face then covered my face in paint and brushed it against the mirror. MCCAY: What relation do you see with Duchamp

and Keller or are they unrelated?

MCCAY: It seems you chose the path that allowed

you to develop into the artist you wanted to be. BRAMBLETT: You’re correct. Soon after moving

to Old City, I met Rafael Ferrer on the street. Rafi

BRAMBLETT: Helen Keller has always been part

had long been a player in the fickle art world, a

of my consciousness because she’s from Alabama

witness to the ebb and flow of trends, fashions, and

like me and because she went out into the world

commentaries. He found a way to persist without

despite so many difficulties and gained such a grasp

compromising his work. Here’s an artist who, at

of the world. It’s amazing to me that she used only

age 82, was listed in artnet news’s 50 Most Exciting

the three senses that we pay the least attention to

Artists of 2014. Our conversations over the years

and yet she was able to understand the world. Most

were my real art education. It was like learning from

of my heroes are individuals who ventured far from

the older brother I never had.

the normal to create their work in many fields. In my work I hope to allow the other senses to play a role in the visual experience. I hope to create work that encourages you to reach out with your hand and touch it because your eye is not right for it. I want

Rafi often said, you can’t teach art. Well, you can teach such things as technique, formal devices, and fashions, but Rafi was talking about being an artist rather than making competent paintings.

to enable the kinds of forces that are within painting

I want to digress for a minute. My wife Karen’s Great

that take a painting beyond the act of just seeing an

Uncle Stanislaw is a well-known artist in Poland. He

image and make it an actual experience of reality.

was ninety and very vital when we visited his atelier, but had been blind for many years. Every morning,

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his son laid out his colors along the very front edge of a glass palette, always in the same order, so the blind artist could find them. As we entered the studio there was a painting on an easel covered with a white sheet. It was a portrait commissioned by a family friend of his wife—the very man who had served as our guide and interpreter over our five-day visit—and we were to witness its unveiling. Arranged around the room were a few of the artist’s earlier paintings, all abstractions. He unveils the portrait and it’s like an Andrew Wyeth painting. I looked over at the guy who commissioned it and he said, “That looks like my wife twenty years ago, that’s not her.” The painter said that’s the last time he’d ever seen her. To be an abstract or symbolist painter, you have to see what you’re painting; to be a representational painter, you just have to know

Genesis, 1987, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

what to put where. TOW: That’s amazing. BRAMBLETT: After living in Rome for some time, I

moved back to Wyncote in 1986 and began to make mostly flat, encaustic works. MCCAY: Your references to Duchamp, Picasso,

and Matisse are quite direct. Are any of your other paintings inspired by art history? BRAMBLETT: The Healing of the Chalk (1991)

and Walking on Quarters (1992) are based on the miracles depicted in Rembrandt’s drawings and etchings. On my first visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, I entered a very long and darkened corridor. Down each wall and in the center were rows of glass cases. In those cases were what seemed to be hundreds of Rembrandt’s sketchbooks and bound etchings. I was overwhelmed not only by the sheer quantity of work, but also by its physicality. It was as if

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Rock of Ages, 1988, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)


Healing of the Chalk, 1991, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist) FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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Walking on Quarters, 1992, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

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What a painting means is different for everyone. To you it means one thing, to me it means another. To someone else it means another. What’s more important? Just because I created it doesn’t mean that my meaning has to be more valid than your meaning. I don’t know anything that you know, therefore that painting is going to mean something Christ Preaching, 1650s, by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (Victoria and Albert Museum, London) Photograph courtesy of V&A Images, London/Art Resource, NY

different to you. It really bothers me when people start making the assumption that a painting has meaning. It only has meaning when your eyes land

Rembrandt was a stone carver, the paper was his

on it, when someone’s eyes land on it and they

stone, and his pen was his chisel. This sense of

apply their experiences and their exposures to that

physical weight carried into the emotional weight

work for themselves.

of his subjects. My paintings have to do with the idea of being an artist and making art. They have

MCCAY: That is not to say that art doesn’t have a

to do with the belief in something existing that is

socially and historically specific meaning. The study

fathomable, but not possible. It’s like the idea of the miracle, as opposed to the magic of the formal and technical tricks of the Renaissance. And a lot of my stories from that period had to do with things that are invisible. Walking on Quarters is based on the miracle of walking on water. I poured enamel paints onto the surface that had patches of encaustic that were embedded with many broken mirrors. It has 304 quarters ($76). The quarters were flipped into the air, landing on the surface as either heads or tails. Most paintings have an image on the painting, or of the painting, it’s the image that we see. There’s a second image, an invisible one, and this is one you can’t think about, you can’t pinpoint, you don’t know about. It’s not about anything. It is felt, it’s the painting within the painting. That image is something that holds you to the painting, that keeps you coming back to it. It’s what distinguishes itself as something inexplicable. It’s a resource for your own conclusions if you have them, or your own curiosities, or whatever meaning you might assign to the painting.

Swallowing Clouds, 1998, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist) FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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of this specificity is of course art history. I know

of respect for. Some made repeat visits and dealers

you’re not suggesting that the personal experience

would come over. The Moore show grew out of the

of viewing a work of art and understanding its

Pew grant.

historical and social significance are mutually exclusive encounters.

TOW: I’d like to get back to the logic paintings we

talked about earlier—Wandering Wondering (1997)

BRAMBLETT: No, I’m not advocating one

is another work that could be called logical. It was

experience over the other.

determined by a set of rules.

ORTWEIN: Could you talk about the Pew grant you

BRAMBLETT: You’re correct. This is a line that’s

received?

over a mile long drawn with a mechanical pencil and

BRAMBLETT: Marta Sanchez is a longtime friend,

and she was a graduate student when I was in Rome from 1984 to 1985. She called me up one night, and she said, “Frank, you haven’t applied for the Pew.” I said, “What’s that?” I never applied for a grant, except for a few through Temple. And she told me she’d bring me an application in the morning. I spent all day and night writing. The next

tells a page long story. Again I had rules. This is a logical approach but an illogical form. Every 50 to 250 feet I would stop and write a word from a story I’d prepared—but I’d let outside forces determine when I’d write each word. I’d be listening to a story on the radio, like NPR, and if the story changed and I noticed it, I would write a word. I couldn’t retrace over any of the areas.

day it was pouring down rain, and they extended

TOW: These paintings are amazing and they’re

the deadline because nobody could get there until

huge, six feet wide and seven and a half feet tall. So

like six o’clock. At the very top of the page, it said,

what were your other rules?

“Please explain your work,” or something like that. That directive fired me up, as I was interested in questioning, not answering. So I proceeded to question the question. ORTWEIN: They must have liked your approach,

because you got the grant. What work came out of it? BRAMBLETT: When I applied for the Pew I was in

the midst of working on a group of large canvases. I used the grant to sublet a studio space in New York. I didn’t work there, I just invited people to view paintings there. I never intended to move to New York, but I wanted to create an audience to view

BRAMBLETT: The rules were that the lines had to

be as close as I could maintain them to one another, and remain consistently that distance, but never touch. They could never touch. They could never cross. I couldn’t stay in an area very long. ORTWEIN: What defines an area? BRAMBLETT: In this case, time. Because I was

working with the radio, I would change when the story changed, maybe ten minutes or so before it was time to move on. ORTWEIN: So are the areas delineated, to begin with?

the work, particularly people I’d built a relationship with over the years and their networks. I used the

BRAMBLETT: No, it’s just in my head, and I can

Pew to get some exposure that I’d been avoiding.

see it emerging. And there’s no image that I had in

A lot of people I knew visited, many that I had a lot

mind. I just meandered, kind of like doodling.

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Wandering Wondering, 1997, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist) FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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Razzle-Dazzle, 1999, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

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Wetherill, 1999, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist) FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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Erasing Extinction, 1998, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

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TOW: Why do you think you needed to impose

floors, techniques for stabilizing an absorbent

rules? Why did you set it up that way?

material. The stabilizing process in Erasing

BRAMBLETT: To keep me on track. To contradict

the fact that I didn’t know what I was doing. TOW: It gave you a beginning?

Extinction was a challenge. I had to seal the surface but also I had to be alert so I didn’t disturb the charcoal dust while being attentive to the expanse of the surface to ensure a uniform application. The most critical aspect was anticipating the

BRAMBLETT: It gave me a way of having a system

moment when the liquid would puddle, because the

in place that eliminated the need for me to make

spraying had to end at that moment. If there was

decisions about what it was going to look like. A

excessive spray, or if the spray wasn’t uniform in

similar continuous-line painting, Erasing Extinction

its application, the surface would become a plastic

(1998) has two surfaces. One is silica mixed in

pool, the image would be lost, and the painting

acrylic, and under that there’s a mixture of marble

would visually collapse. Rather than enabling the

dust and acrylic. I sanded through the silica layer

eye to absorb the image, the eye would be repelled

in spots with consistent pressure and speed, so

by the reflective surface.

the tonality of the vine charcoal used to create the lines is relative to the texture of the surface that it’s

MCCAY: I know you create or mix the materials you

being drawn on. Vine charcoal is a natural carbon

use to make various compounds. Do you also create

form, as opposed to compressed charcoal, which

the tools needed to apply some of your media?

is charcoal that’s compressed in gum arabic. This is what I value from my process; when things are set up without knowing what will happen, and the outcome far exceeds anything that I might have even thought about as a possibility. Maybe that is what I was trying to get at in talking about the idea of the miracle.

BRAMBLETT: Yes, Tête-à-Tête (1999) and Cherry

Grove (1999) were done using brushes I made. I took one of those bars that you use for putting on paste for wallpaper. I cut it down into different sizes, from little ones to big ones, and I took a dowel, drilled holes in it, and put those different sections with a dowel in them as a brush. But rather than

TOW: I’m wondering how this didn’t smudge. Did

centering the dowel, I offset the dowel so that when

you fix it as you went along?

I took the brush and I moved it around, it would spin. I’d get these spiral patterns. By changing the

BRAMBLETT: No, but it was thoroughly sealed on

location of the dowel, I could change the spin of the

its completion.

brush and the resulting spirals.

TOW: You were very careful.

TOW: It’s so cool.

BRAMBLETT: Yes, very. In my painting process, I

BRAMBLETT: When I created Cherry Grove,

often apply what I’ve learned from doing projects

another painting where I used my invented brush,

around my home. In Erasing Extinction, I applied

I was thinking of water swirling around rocks

techniques that I learned while closing soapstone

and stuff going down a stream. That was one of

countertops, marble window seals, and cement

the few paintings that was influenced by three

FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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Cherry Grove, 1999, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

specific things I had witnessed. The painting was

thinking of the time, distance, and temperature

inspired by seeing a vase painting of grapes in a

of the stars. The “leaves” were included after our

homestead called Cherry Grove, in the Shenandoah

125-pound German Shepherd came bounding

Valley in Virginia. In my painting the “grapes” were

in the studio with muddy feet, running down

initially a reference to those molecular ball-and-

the stairs and right across the backside of the

stick models used to teach chemical compounds.

painting. I thought, that’s OK—the paw prints are

The colored dots were a response to the hours

going to be leaves and those chemical compound

we spent looking into a star-filled night sky while

structures are going to be grapes. The grapes are

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Tête-à-Tête, 1999, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

actually representations of molecular structures

MCCAY: We’ve included a number of your photo

of chemicals. So I painted his paw prints. I often

collages in the exhibition. Could you talk about

play with the idea of representational painting—

those?

any image of something real rendered in twodimensional paint is, by definition, an illusion—so I try to give any imagery a twist. The image is always a deception of the anticipated illusion.

BRAMBLETT: Before incorporating my homebrew

painting materials into larger works, I wanted to know how they would interact with each other and with various surfaces. I would try different

FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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This page, top to bottom: Warren, VT, Thunder Hole, Mohegan, Monument, San Martino, Pulpit Rock/Sandy Pond, Back Forty; All 1997–2000, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

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This page, top to bottom: Wellesley Tree, Yard/St. Peters, Wellesley Rock, Pemaquid, Black Walnut; All 1997–2000, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist) FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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This page, top to bottom: Rock of Ages, San Antonio River, Wedowee Motel, Ithaca, Norchia, Sandy Pond, Garden/Deck; All 1997–2000, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

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This page, top to bottom: Boulder Beach, Brooklyn Botanical, Cayuga, Saturnia, Katahdin, Randolph County, Schoodic; All 1997–2000, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist) FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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Mind Mine, 1998, by Frank Bramblett (Collection of Warren and Paula Suss)

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combinations, tweaking proportions of chemical

BRAMBLETT: You know it’s like a mantra, what’s

and pigment additives, on fifteen by nineteen

important about anything is everything you don’t

inch test panels of wood. These were not so much

know about it. Everything that you know doesn’t

painting studies as simple tests of a process.

matter. What matters is what you don’t know. So it’s

You can see my notes scribbled all over many of

the search and then the ultimate find, which is what

them. At one point, in 2000, I was going through

life is all about. That’s what I see painting as being

thousands of old family travel photographs looking

about. It’s not about the explanation, it’s not about

for a certain one. This had nothing to do with my

the theory. It’s about the search and the find and

art—it just so happened that my large worktables

the next search that follows.

were all shoved together in the middle of my studio and covered in a grid of thirty or forty of those test panels that had been hanging around for a couple of years. I used that as a surface and began scattering the photographs on top of the

ORTWEIN: I understand. Things are always

changing and your ideas are always developing. I remember a story you told me about a particular project with former students when you built a wall.

panels, searching for that one I needed. Instead, I

BRAMBLETT: Yes, two of my favorite students

started seeing some of the photos merging with

were Jonathan Allmaier and Maria Walker. They

the paintings they lay on.

were working for me that summer and were

I spent about two days going through every photograph I could find. I start narrowing down the photos, placing them directly on the panel with which they made the best connection. I ended up with anywhere from three to thirty photographs on top of each panel. I decided to have only one on each (two for larger studies), and began to move it around to find its place. Once I glued the right photographs to the right surface, the panel became a painting.

assigned to construct a stone wall. He wrote a piece about working on the stone wall at my house. The wall followed the path up to my studio. His writing really captured who I am because it talked about how I had my students pick the stones out of this huge pile, because we were using quarry stones that are irregular because there’s a lot of quartz in them. They’re cut like rhombus shapes. I had them lay the stones out on the grass and wash and scrub them so they could see the grain and the color. I wanted them

ORTWEIN: This illustrates the lack of intention that

to keep them damp while building the wall. I would

we were discussing earlier, as well as your desire

correct them, in my nice, critical way. I told them

to avoid a prescribed agenda. What’s the cut off in

to tear it down. They became—understandably—

terms of what you label as a painting?

exasperated and testy, and eventually began to

BRAMBLETT: I guess, if I say it’s a painting, it’s a

painting. If I say it’s a sculpture, it’s a sculpture.

squabble about placement and structure. Slowly, however, they reached a new way of thinking about the wall and about the process. Jonathan wrote,

ORTWEIN: So if you find more of them, are they

“We realized that the goal of the afternoon was

going to be paintings or are they going to be up for

not to build a wall.” He described how the project

grabs?

became instead a meditative experience. “We just

FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

33


moved the rocks around, adding and subtracting,

father was the town’s first doctor. Rarely did people

until the wall seemed to appear all by itself.”

move to Wedowee, so having a family to move to

MCCAY: That’s a beautiful story Frank. Can we talk

about Normally Peculiar (2001)?

town from Birmingham was a big deal. The Israels were the people who introduced me to the world beyond Wedowee. At the dinner table they talked

BRAMBLETT: The text that meanders around are

about world events, not just the town gossip. They

anecdotes of my eleven great aunts and uncles

listened to classical music, and sometimes Mrs.

who grew up at a place called Down Home, a family

Israel would even break into song. They took me

farm outside Wedowee, Alabama. I followed my

on family vacations where instead of just sitting

rules from earlier stories, but as always threw myself

around the motel watching people, walking around

some curves. I began varying the size of the script

the town, or swimming in the pool, we’d go on long

and blending tones of white to gray to black. Once

hikes, climb mountains, and exhaust ourselves on

the surface was filled, the story was complete. But I

bike rides. I always felt special as a part of the Israel

should talk about the title.

family. Years later, at the Israels’ fiftieth wedding anniversary party, I was telling Dr. Israel of the many

Growing up in Wedowee, there were only a handful

reminders of our visit and the curious behaviors of

of boys that were close to my age, and they were

some of the townsfolk. Dr. Israel smiled and said,

scattered around town. My two best friends were

“Frank, what you need to understand is that the

Bobby Israel and Alfred Haynes. Although Bobby

people in Wedowee are just normally peculiar. The

Israel was several years younger, he lived a couple

rest of the world tries to conform to be alike and be

of houses up the street, so we became close

liked.” After a pause, he said, “I prefer when people

friends. His family was from Birmingham and his

are normally peculiar.”

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Normally Peculiar, 2001, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist) FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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ON FRANK BRAMBLETT BY ANTHONY CAMPUZANO

Campuzano was a student of Frank Bramblett and is now an artist living and working in Philadelphia. In the 1990s at Tyler School of Art I took a few classes taught by Frank Bramblett. The first concerned encaustic painting. Frank showed us all kinds of techniques for painting using wax, marble dust, and more. I was kind of clueless in that class. I loved painting, but in some ways I loved talking about it more. I took the class because of what I had heard and seen of Frank. He was mysterious and serious, approachable yet always on the move. There was a story going around campus that he had quit painting, that in fact the only artwork he had made in years was during a recent blizzard when he shoveled a maze into the snow-covered fields of his farm. The maze

Graduate review with Nick Kripal, Dona Nelson, Winifred Lutz, Ryan McCartney (MFA candidate), Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania Photograph courtesy of Frank Bramblett

was supposedly so intricate that graduate students who worked for him were drafted into searching for and coaxing out his dog that had gone missing in it. That’s someone you want to work with—an artist who made a maze so intricate his dog got lost inside! During those years at Tyler, the art world was expanding and changing. I found myself less interested in painting. I took a series of sculpture classes and began to look more inward for ideas. In order to finish the remaining painting requirements in my now double major, I sought out Frank again who (along with Margo Margolis) agreed to let me participate in drawing classes that were mostly full of strictly painters.

that he has been trying to figure out for many, many years. That is the thing though, it is what we all do: looking, sometimes scribbling or dripping or talking in response. In the summer of 2010, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania invited me to move my studio to the second floor of the museum and run programs including film screenings, talks, a drawing class, and more for the month of July. It was really exciting and, in addition to my studio and the programming, I organized a small exhibition in the space consisting of one

Frank looks at it all. He understands technique,

work each by two peers, two mentors, and two

material, and content. He is curious about you and

professors. I, of course, thought of Frank. He had

the way you see the world. He has his own things

just retired from teaching at Tyler and it was so

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Two Tone, 1975, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist) FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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film as a result. The version of the class at the ICA consisted of two weekend days where Frank and whoever came sat around a table and talked. We discussed art and influence. Frank showed us images of ancient to contemporary art. One day he screened a documentary on cinematography, taking special notice of the work of Conrad Hall. We talked about the role of light in a range of art, from a Rembrandt self-portrait, an Eakins crucifixion, and works by Ad Reinhardt and Anish Bramblett’s studio, Wyncote, Pennsylvania, 1981 Photograph courtesy of Frank Bramblett

Kapoor, to the raindrop on a windowpane that becomes a reflected tear on Robert Blake’s cheek in the film In Cold Blood.

great to see one of his large, abstract paintings in the space. It even had marble dust on it!

I remember a few high school students attending, as well as former college students of Frank’s and random strangers. It was casual yet serious. Frank

As part of the programming, I invited Frank

guided us in the end toward Philip Guston. It was,

to present a class he had given at Tyler, one in

in some ways, a lecture about where things came

which he tasked students to trace their favorite

from, yet it was also about a crisis, specifically the

artists’ influences back to cave painting. He’d

crisis that awaited Guston when he debuted his

originally developed the class after finding that

now-iconic paintings in the 1970s and the crisis of

many of his students merely copied other art

what to do after and how to go forward from them.

instead of challenging themselves. The lesson

Guston is dead, so it isn’t his problem anymore—it’s

was very helpful for my own growth as an artist.

ours. It is always difficult, but there are clues all

I reconnected with my interests in writing and

around us, including those deep inside.

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Falling Up, 2001, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist) FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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TO MENTOR IS TO EDUCATE: THE INNATE INSTINCTS OF FRANK BRAMBLETT BY MARTA SANCHEZ

Sanchez was a student of Frank Bramblett. She is an artist, educator and art activist. It’s hard to hold onto the beginning or end of an art

in the mid-1980s in Rome, where he worked

conversation with Frank Bramblett. His words are

with undergraduate and graduate art students,

like works in progress—they resonate long after one’s

investigating our work and work habits. We valued

work has been talked about, installed in a gallery, or

his acute ear, his ability to listen to us on a different

boxed up in one’s actual or mental archive.

level while remembering what we were saying. In an

Reminiscing with Frank recently about approaches to teaching, I took notes and wished that I had taken more in the past. Frank was my instructor and advisor in my first year of graduate school

almost psychic sense, he heard not only what we were literally telling him, but another voice. He said, “Normally people talk about everyday things. If you listen to something else, in addition to what they are saying, they will reveal how they feel about their father, religion, sex; they will tell you secrets.” Frank challenged us not to let ourselves be bound to a preconceived formula for painting. “Why paint it if you already know what it looks like?” he would ask. He pushed us beyond image and technique to recognize a manner of painting that reflected a sense of self. His knowledge of materials is vast, yet he allows the exploration of process to reveal alternative ways of forming relationships in considering imagery. His finished work leaves a visual trail that serves as evidence of the work’s history. Many students react to Frank’s teaching as a personal journey. Described as a Zen-like instructor, an enlightened professor, and many other titles that may make him blush, Frank has made it a part of his life to teach every day in one way or another. Creating has never had a particular size or scale for him. He pushes his students toward critical, inductive reasoning instead of opinion and deductive reasoning, treating

“The Mod Squad” Bramblett, Margo Margolis, and Stanley Whitney at the new Tyler School of Art building, 2009 Photograph courtesy of Frank Bramblett

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them as collaborators in art and discourse. Most remarkably, in an art world that is full of ego and


Mummy, 1975, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist) FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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Bay Window, 1997–2000, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

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Right, near: Bramblett with his spectacles, 2012 Photograph courtesy of Frank Bramblett

Right, far: Bramblett with Amy Lincoln’s portrait of him at the opening of Thanks. Frank at the Elkins Estate, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 2010. Photograph courtesy of Frank Bramblett

competition, Frank keeps those off the table. He

made an impact on his students. The show was

shares his students’ success stories when it fits into

conceived and organized by his students to

a conversation. His delivery reflects his pride in all

honor his teaching and art-making philosophy.

of his students’ accomplishments.

At his retirement, Tyler’s Painting, Drawing, and

Over the years I have continued to consult with Frank on various issues. As a friend, he has mentored me as well as taught me, whether

Sculpture Department honored him with a book filled with touching e-mail accounts from faculty and former students.

opening the possibilities of working in a studio

I believe that Frank’s natural teaching method

or reconfiguring the interior of my home. I have

instilled in us a sense of commitment, integrity,

always felt that brainstorming with Frank was

and conviction in our art. His essay “This Is What

a collaboration. Maybe that is what makes his

It Isn’t” (available at http://www.frankbramblett.

mentorship flow so effortlessly.

com/apple.html) offers a clear view of his

The exhibition Thanks.Frank, mounted at the time of his retirement from the Tyler School of Art in 2010, is a great example of how Frank

thoughts about painting, perception, and process. His work truly reflects the way he teaches. It is as honest as it hangs on the wall.

FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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CHRONOLOGY 1947

1953

Born to Frank and Sybil Bramblett in father’s

Enters Wedowee Elementary School.

hometown of Cumming, Georgia.

1954 1949

Upon entering second grade, becomes a student of

Moves to mother’s hometown of Wedowee,

Mae Strain, who would become his most influential

Alabama.

teacher throughout his schooling. Strain is his teacher in the fourth grade as well.

Bramblett and his father outside his maternal grandfather’s store in Wedowee, Alabama, 1951–52. Photograph courtesy of Frank Bramblett.

Bramblett dressed as a hobo in front of Wedowee Elementary School, 1958. Photograph courtesy of Frank Bramblett.

1959 Moves to Anniston, Alabama.

1961 Bramblett with his mother, Sybil, and father, Frank, at his maternal grandparents’ home called Down Home, Wedowee, Alabama, 1955. Photograph courtesy of Frank Bramblett.

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Moves to Marietta, Georgia.


1962

1971

Attends an exhibition featuring James Abbott

Serves as assistant to Richard Lytle in Josef Albers’s

McNeill Whistler’s Arrangement in Grey and Black

color course.

No. 1 (1871) and Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker (1903) at the Atlanta Art Center.

1963 Travels to Washington, DC, to visit the National Portrait Gallery and other museums.

Receives his master of fine arts degree from Yale University. Awarded Yale’s Schickle-Collingwood Prize in recognition for exceptional development and progress. Takes the first of many trips to coastal Maine to

1965

camp and hike.

Enters the University of Georgia. Over the next four

Meets David Pease, chair of the Painting, Drawing,

years, he takes classes including Art in the Dark,

and Sculpture Department at Temple University’s

Advanced Painting, and Watercolor, and earns a

Tyler School of Art, at the College Art Association

bachelor of fine arts degree.

conference. Moves to the outskirts of Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

1968 Marries Karen Reid in Sandy Springs, Georgia.

1969 Travels outside of the southern United States for the first time to visit Karen’s home in Rhode Island.

Son Reid is born.

1972 Joins the faculty at Tyler School of Art as a professor of painting in the Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture Department, where he meets fellow faculty members Stanley Whitney, Margo Margolis,

1970 Enters the master of fine arts program at

and John Moore. He will continue to teach there until 2010.

Yale School of Art and moves to New Haven, Connecticut. While there, he works primarily with Lester Johnson and Al Held. Travels to New York for the first time.

Bramblett with his wife, Karen, and their dog, Pal, on the Elkins Park grounds of Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, 1972. Photograph courtesy of Frank Bramblett.

FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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White over Translucent, 1973, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

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1974 Group exhibition: Ten Artists Viewed and Interviewed, Cheltenham Art Center.

1975 Group exhibition: Young Philadelphia Artists, Vick Gallery, Philadelphia, June 14–July 12. Awarded a Temple University Grant-in-Aid for Research.

1976 Group exhibitions: Artists Sketchbook, Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts), Philadelphia; New Young Artists, Bykert Gallery, New York, June 1–July 2. Spends the summer visiting as many national parks as possible in what Reid terms “the hippie van.”

Ash on Scrap, 1976, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

1977 Solo exhibition: Frank Bramblett at OK Harris Gallery, New York, December 8–29. Group exhibition: Alternatives, Ohio University Art Gallery, Athens, OH. Travels to Mexico City and visits the Mayan ruins of Bramblett, c. 1976. Photograph courtesy of Frank Bramblett.

southern Mexico. Awarded a Temple University Grant-in-Aid for Research.

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1978 Group exhibition: Shaped Paintings, Martha Gault Art Gallery, Slippery Rock College, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Awarded a Visual Artists Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

1979 Solo exhibition: Frank Bramblett: Sculpted Paintings, OK Harris Gallery, New York, April 20–May 21.

1980 Group exhibitions: Painted Structures, Jeffrey Fuller Fine Art, Philadelphia, April 18–May 21; Other Media, Visual Arts Gallery, Florida International University, Miami, February 8–28; Group Show, Race Gallery, Philadelphia, March 7–April 5; Mary Boone Gallery, New York. Awarded a Temple University Grant-in-Aid for Research.

1981 Group exhibitions: Group, Mary Boone Gallery, New York, September 12–October 7; Review, Preview, Jeffrey Fuller Fine Art, Philadelphia, February 20–March 21.

1982 Visits artist Rafael Ferrer and Bunny Ferrer in Boquerón, Puerto Rico. Group exhibition: Paint, University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque. Tan/Yellow, 1979, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

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1983 Commissioned to create two outdoor installations, ILGWU and The Triangle Fire for the International Ladies Garment Works Union at 35 South 4th Street, Philadelphia.

1984 Awarded a Temple University Grant-in-Aid for Research.

1984–86 Teaches with Susan Moore as part of the Temple

Endurance, 1992, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

University Abroad program in Rome, Italy.

1991 Awarded a Temple University Grant-in-Aid for Research.

1993 Returns to Rome with Karen to celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary. Meets son Reid’s future wife, Frances Sayers.

Bramblett with his wife, Karen, and their son, Reid, in Temple University Abroad’s painting studios, Rome, Italy, 1986. Photograph

1994

courtesy of Frank Bramblett.

Group exhibition: Shouts and Whispers: Art Language, 1732 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, June 8–25.

1987 Awarded a Temple University Grant-in-Aid for Research.

1997 Group exhibition: The Big Picture Large Scale Contemporary Paintings, Abington Art Center,

1988

Jenkintown, PA, October 3–December 3.

Awarded a Temple University Grant-in-Aid for Research.

FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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First and Main, 1997–2000, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

Landing Window, 1997–2000, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

1997–98

2000–2001

Group exhibition: Abstract Strategies, Philadelphia

Solo exhibition: Frank Bramblett Paintings,

Art Alliance, December 13, 1997–January 25, 1998.

Levy Gallery, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, November 17, 2000–January 21, 2001.

1999 Returns to Wedowee, Alabama, to attend the fiftieth

2001

wedding anniversary of longtime family friends Dr.

Group exhibitions: Hybrid Dwellings, Galeria Arsenal,

and Mrs. Willis Israel.

Bialystok, Poland, April 2–May 13; Spunky, Exit Art, New York, September 8–October 27.

2000

Participates in a panel discussion for the Hybrid

Awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

Dwellings exhibition at Galeria Arsenal, Bialystok, Poland.

Group exhibition: Mental Wilderness, GAle GAtes et al., Brooklyn, NY, November 9–December 16.

Visits Karen’s family in Krakow. Meets her great uncle Stanislaw.

Lectures at Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, November 29. Awarded a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Special Opportunity Stipend.

Invitation for Spunky exhibition (Courtesy of Frank Bramblett)

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Dive In, 2001, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

Lectures as part of the Visiting Artists Series

Lectures as part of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts

at Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS,

Series at Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA, April 12.

February 22–23. Serves as a juror for the Fox Family All-Campus

Awarded a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Special Opportunity Stipend.

Exhibition at the University of Pennsylvania, April 2–27.

FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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2002

2006 Group exhibition:

Visits Rafael and Bunny Ferrer in Vieques, Puerto

Transcendent

Rico.

and Unrepentant, Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, January 16–February 25; Reactions, Exit Art, New York, January 12–

Travels to Texas to visit the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, Kimbell Art Museum, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. With Tyler School of Art’s Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture Department, visits the Chinati Foundation in Marfa.

March 30. Visits Claude Monet’s Invitation for Transcendent and Unrepentant exhibition (Courtesy of Frank Bramblett)

house and gardens at

2008 Visits Mississippi with Reid.

Giverny, France.

Attends the build-design program at the

2009

Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield, VT.

Group exhibition: Forever Young: Celebrating Seven

His primary instructor is John Ringel, co-founder of

Decades of Art, Abington Art Center, Jenkintown,

the architectural group Jersey Devil.

PA, March–July 26.

2003

2010

Serves as a juror for the National Endowment

Participates in Summer Studio with Anthony

for the Arts/Mid-America Arts Alliance Artist

Campuzano, a series of programs and an exhibition

Fellowship Program in the Visual Arts, Chicago.

at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of

Travels to Ireland. Visits southern Japan.

Pennsylvania, July 1–July 31. Former students organize Thanks.Frank, an exhibition commemorating Bramblett’s retirement from Tyler School of Art after nearly four decades

2005 Travels to northern California to visit state and national parks.

of teaching. The exhibition is held at the William Lukens Elkins Estate, Elkins Park, PA, August 27– September 21. Travels around western Montana, and spends ten days hiking in Glacier National Park.

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Bramblett’s studio in Plymouth Meeting, during the artist’s arranging of his large-scale work Accomplished, 2013. Photograph courtesy of Frank Bramblett.

2015 Solo exhibition: Frank Bramblett: No Intention, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, March 7– June 21.

Bramblett and his grandson, Kemper, explore Pietra Dura (1998) at Woodmere Art Museum, 2012. Photograph courtesy of Frank Bramblett.

2012 Group exhibition: Intramural, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Philadelphia, June 1–July 1; Elemental: Nature as Language in the Works of Philadelphia Artists, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, February 17– April 22.

2013 Group exhibition: In Front of Strangers, I Sing, 72nd Annual Juried Exhibition, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, May 25–September 1.

FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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WORKS IN THE EXHIBITION

Unless noted, all works listed below are by Frank Bramblett (American, born 1947) and are in the collection of the artist. Image Scape, 1968 Acrylic on shaped canvas, 22 1/2 x 36 inches Sketchbook, 1968 Carpenter’s pencil on paper, 8 1/2 x 11 inches Awning, 1973 Acrylic, acrylic paints, acrylic medium, watercolor, and pigments on canvas, 24 x 25 inches Blue/Book, 1973 Acrylic, acrylic paints, acrylic medium, watercolor, and pigments on canvas, 26 1/2 x 26 inches Highboy, 1973 Acrylic, acrylic paints, acrylic medium, watercolor, and pigments on canvas, 87 x 25 inches Red Wrap, 1973 Acrylic, acrylic paints, acrylic medium, watercolor, and pigments on canvas, 18 1/2 x 20 1/2 inches White over Translucent, 1973 Acrylic paints, acrylic medium, and marble dust on canvas, 27 x 27 inches Asterisk, 1974 Acrylic, acrylic paints, acrylic medium, pigments, and diatomaceous earth on cotton duck canvas, 24 x 26 1/4 inches

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Chippendale, 1974 Acrylic medium, acrylic paints, pigments, and diatomaceous earth on canvas, 27 1/2 x 32 1/4 inches White Face, 1974 Acrylic paints, acrylic medium, pigments, fillers, and house paints on cotton duck canvas, 27 1/2 x 21 inches X Teardrop, 1974 Acrylic medium, acrylic paints, watercolor, and pigments on cotton duck canvas, 38 x 38 inches Black/Black, 1975 Acrylic paints and marble dust on canvas, 22 1/2 x 27 1/4 inches Black/Black/White, 1975 Acrylic paints and marble dust on canvas, 27 1/4 x 21 inches “C” Indigo on Scrap, 1975 Acrylic paints, watercolor, and marble dust on scrap, 11 x 3 1/4 x 2 inches “C” Pine on Scrap, 1975 Acrylic paints and marble dust on scrap, 11 1/4 x 4 3/4 x 2 1/4 inches Mummy, 1975 Acrylic paints, marble dust, encaustic, and bronzing powders on scrap, 7 x 2 1/2 x 1 inches

Point, 1975 Acrylic paints and marble dust on canvas, 22 x 28 1/2 inches “S” Celite on Scrap, 1975 Acrylic paints and diatomaceous earth on scrap, 11 1/2 x 3 3/4 x 2 1/2 inches “S” Graphite on Scrap, 1975 Acrylic paints, marble dust, and graphite on scrap, 12 1/4 x 3 1/2 x 2 1/4 inches “S” Marble Dust on Scrap, 1975 Acrylic paints, marble dust, and aluminum hydrate on scrap, 11 3/4 x 5 x 2 1/2 inches “S” Marble Dust on Scrap, 1975 Acrylic paints, marble dust, aluminum hydrate on scrap, 11 1/2 x 2 3/4 x 2 1/4 inches Collection of Corey Antis

“S” Silica on Scrap, 1975 Acrylic paints, marble dust, and silica on scrap, 10 3/4 x 4 x 2 1/2 inches Two Tone, 1975 Acrylic paints, marble dust, and diatomaceous earth on canvas, 22 x 28 1/2 inches White/White/Black, 1975 Acrylic paints and marble dust on canvas, 21 1/4 x 27 1/2 inches


Ash on Scrap, 1976 Acrylic paints, marble dust, and volcanic ash on scrap, 12 x 4 x 2 1/2 inches “C” Algae on Scrap, 1976 Acrylic paints, marble dust, and aluminum hydrate on scrap, 10 3/4 x 4 3/4 x 2 1/2 inches “C” Forest on Scrap, 1976 Acrylic paints and marble dust on scrap, 11 1/4 x 3 3/4 x 2 1/4 inches

Image Scape, 1968, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

“C” Marble Dust on Scrap, 1976 Acrylic paints and marble dust on scrap, 13 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 3 inches “C” Silica on Scrap, 1976 Acrylic paints, marble dust, and silica on scrap, 13 1/2 x 4 x 2 1/2 inches “C” Silica on Scrap, 1976 Acrylic paints, marble dust, and silica on scrap, 13 x 3 1/2 x 3 inches FeO, 1976 Acrylic paints and ferrous oxide on canvas, 96 x 28 inches Gray on Scrap, 1976 Acrylic paints, marble dust, and volcanic ash on scrap, 11 3/4 x 3 x 2 inches Indigo on Scrap, 1976 Acrylic paints, marble dust, and oil paint on scrap, 11 1/2 x 3 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches

Chippendale, 1974, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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NiO, 1976 Acrylic paints and nickel oxide on canvas, 96 x 26 inches “S� Ash on Scrap, 1976 Acrylic paints, marble dust, and volcanic ash on scrap, 13 1/4 x 4 3/4 x 2 3/4 inches Black Blue on Redwood, 1977 Acrylic paints and marble dust on redwood, 16 x 2 x 3 inches Dark Blue on Mahogany, 1977 Acrylic paints and marble dust on mahogany, 18 1/4 x 2 3/4 x 2 inches Dark Blue on Poplar, 1977 Acrylic paints and marble dust on poplar, 16 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches Ibis, 1977 Acrylic paints, marble dust, encaustic, bronzing powder on board, 96 x 20 x 2 in. Navy on Redwood, 1977 Acrylic paints, marble dust, and diatomaceous earth on redwood, 20 1/2 x 2 1/4 x 2 1/2 inches Olive on Poplar, 1977 Acrylic paints and marble dust on poplar, 18 1/2 x 3 1/4 x 2 inches Olive on Poplar, 1977 Acrylic paints and marble dust on poplar, 16 3/4 x 2 1/4 x 2 1/2 inches Blue Black on Black Walnut, 1978 Acrylic paints, mica powder, and marble dust on black walnut, 24 x 3 x 2 1/2 inches

Dark Blue on Mahogany, 1977, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

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Brown on Black Walnut, 1978 Acrylic paints, mica powder, and marble dust on black walnut, 24 x 2 1/4 x 3 inches Pink on Cherry, 1978 Acrylic paints and marble dust on cherry, 24 x 4 3/4 x 1 1/2 inches Red on Cherry, 1978 Acrylic paints and marble dust on cherry, 24 x 2 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches Rust on Redwood, 1978 Acrylic paints and marble dust on redwood, 23 1/4 x 2 1/4 x 2 inches Slate on Cherry, 1978 Acrylic paints and marble dust on cherry, 24 x 4 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches Tan on Maple, 1978 Acrylic paints and marble dust on maple, 24 1/2 x 4 x 1 inches Mars/Lamp, 1979 Acrylic paints, marble dust, and diatomaceous earth on weathered oak board, 96 x 5 1/2 x 11 inches Peach on Oak, 1979 Acrylic paints and marble dust on oak, 24 x 2 3/4 x 2 1/4 inches Plum on Cherry, 1979 Acrylic paints and marble dust on cherry, 24 1/4 x 1 1/2 x 2 inches Rose/Black, 1979 Acrylic paints and marble dust on mahogany lath, 84 3/4 x 7 1/4 x 4 1/2 inches

Olive on Poplar, 1977, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

Tan/Yellow, 1979 Acrylic paints, mica powder, and marble dust on maple lath, 93 x 5 x 2 3/4 inches FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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Cadillac Mountain, 1997–2000, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

Walking on Quarters, 1992 Enamel, encaustic, pigments, mirrors, and quarters on panel, 96 x 86 inches Wandering Wondering, 1997 Acrylic paints, marble dust, silica, and graphite on canvas, 90 x 72 inches

Twenty Something Divers, 1997, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

Hypothetical Marriage of Monsieur Marcel Duchamp and Miss Helen Keller, 1982 Floor tile, silicon rubber, mirror, glass, enamel, colored chalk, and felt on panel, 80 x 96 3/4 inches Oh No, Yoko! Where What Where, 1982 Floor tile, silicon rubber, mirror, glass, and enamel on panel, 83 1/2 x 192 inches

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Rock of Ages, 1988 Encaustic on panel, 60 x 60 inches Healing of the Chalk, 1991 Encaustic, pigments, and caulk on panel, 83 x 72 inches Endurance, 1992 Enamel, clay, blown glass, and charcoal on panel, 96 x 76 inches

Back Forty, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches Bay Window, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches Black Walnut, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches


Boulder Beach, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches

Ithaca, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches

Brooklyn Botanical, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches

Katahdin, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

Cadillac Mountain, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches

Landing Window, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches

Cayuga, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

Mohegan, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

Ducktown, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

Monument, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

First and Main, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

Norchia, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches

Garden/Deck, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 18 x 24 inches

Pemaquid, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

Pulpit Rock/Sandy Pond, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches Radda, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches Randolph County, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches Rock of Ages, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches San Antonio River, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches San Antonio Sunset, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches San Martino, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

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Warren, VT, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches Wedowee Motel, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

Radda, 1997–2000, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist)

Wellesley Rock, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches

Sandy Pond, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches

Wellesley Tree, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

Saturnia, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

Yard/St. Peters, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 18 x 24 inches

Schoodic, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

Erasing Extinction, 1998 Acrylic paints, marble dust, silica, and charcoal on canvas, 90 x 72 inches

Thunder Hole, 1997–2000 Mixed media, pigments, and fillers (marble dust, silica, mica dust, volcanic ash, and diatomaceous earth) with photograph on panel, 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

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Mind Mine, 1998 Acrylic paint, pencil lead, cement powders, tempera, watercolor, flash, and gouache on canvas, 90 x 72 inches Collection of Warren and Paula Suss

Pietra Dura, 1998 Acrylic paints, graphite, marble dust, charcoal powder, and graphite on canvas, 90 x 72 inches Swallowing Clouds, 1998 Acrylic paints, marble dust, graphite, cement powder, tempera, watercolor, and gouache on canvas, 90 x 72 inches eyedotcom, 1999 Acrylic paints, spray enamel, marble dust, and diatomaceous earth on canvas, 90 x 72 inches Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of the artist, 2012

Knot Nothing, 1999 Enamel paints, acrylic paints, diatomaceous earth, and graphite powder on canvas, 90 x 72 inches Razzle-Dazzle, 1999 Mixed media, pigments, marble dust, diatomaceous earth, and encaustic on panel, 90 x 72 inches Tête-à-Tête, 1999 Mixed media, pigments, marble dust, and encaustic on panel, 90 x 72 inches Wetherill, 1999 Mixed media, pigments, marble dust, diatomaceous earth, and oil paints on panel, 90 x 72 inches Dive In, 2001 Acrylic paints, marble dust, charcoal, and photographs on canvas on panel, 90 x 72 inches Normally Peculiar, 2001 Acrylic paints, spray enamel, and sign enamels on canvas on panel, 90 x 72 inches


Pietra Dura, 1998, by Frank Bramblett (Courtesy of the artist) FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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Accomplished, individual drawings, 2014 Pens and markers on lined paper, each 8 1/2 x 11 inches ARTIST UNKNOWN Untitled, undated Oil on canvas, 36 3/4 x 51 3/4 inches (with frame)

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Woodmere Art Museum receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Support provided in part by The Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

Š 2015 Woodmere Art Museum. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher. Photography by Rick Echelmeyer unless otherwise noted. Catalogue designed by Barb Barnett and edited by Gretchen Dykstra. Front cover: eyedotcom, 1999, by Frank Bramblett (Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of the artist, 2012) FRANK BRAMBLETT: NO INTENTION

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Profile for Woodmere Art Museum

Frank Bramblett: No Intention  

This career retrospective explores four decades of work by Frank Bramblett (born 1947), one of Philadelphia’s most admired artists and teach...

Frank Bramblett: No Intention  

This career retrospective explores four decades of work by Frank Bramblett (born 1947), one of Philadelphia’s most admired artists and teach...