12 Questions: Brett Angell

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We are excited to present a new artist we have begun to represent! Brett Angell is originally from Milwaukee, WI and was taught by Tom Uttech. We were immediately struck by the artist's imaginative landscapes in his assembled frames. Brett creates landscapes that make you question the divisions between what is real and imagined with a feeling of both hope and dread. He creates the frames first and uses them as inspiration for the final paintings (which is the opposite of how most artists work). You can see the great midwestern attention to detail and craft in these amazing miniature paintings! We hope you enjoy getting to know Brett and discovering his work!



1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life? What are you reading or watching right now?

May Sarton “Journal Of Solitude”, Musa Mayer “Night Studio, A Memoir Of Philip Guston”, Joe Fig “Inside The Painter’s Studio”. I’m currently reading the Harvard Art Museum catalog for “Painting Edo, Selections From The Feinberg Collection Of Japanese Art”. Just finished watching “The Valhalla Murders” on Netflix. Looking forward to watching the second seasons of “What We Do In The Dark”, “Penny Dreadful” and “Taboo”. Come on Tom Hardy stop making stupid Marvel movies and make the second season of Taboo already!

2. What are you currently working on? Are you able to create during the pandemic?

Currently I’m working on paintings. My studio is where I live so I am able to paint every day for between 8-12 hours. The pandemic is helping my studio practice tremendously!


3. How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure?

My entire art career has been one big failure. Really! I’ve come so close to great things happening and then falling through so many times I can’t even tell you. The good part of that is I feel free to paint and go wherever I want to go with it. No pressure because it doesn’t support me financially or pay the bills. Truly a labor of love! My favorite failure comes from when I was still in graduate school. I had a show at a local fancy restaurant and I got a call from the owner asking me if I could remove a couple of the nudes. These were painted very loosely and non-specifically with little detail. When I arrived to the owner’s surprise I took the entire show down. “All or nothing” I said. Stupid! I had high ideals I guess. It’s not so much of a failure as an immature, brash over-reaction.

4. What is your most unusual habit?

Watching TMZ every night religiously. If I’m going to be away or at work late I record it. Seriously! I’m obsessed with it.

5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why? Vermeer. The best painter ever of course!

6. What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office?

My music on my iPod and iPhone.

7. When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself?

I work both in painting, plein-air painting and collage. When I get bored with one I just switch to the other. Usually switching from painting to collage or collage to painting will get me out of any funk I’m in. Hasn’t failed me so far. I specifically don’t ask questions. I do the work as it comes and either is stays or it gets painted out but I never question why it shows up as it does.

8. What  do you see as the artist’s role through this difficult time?

To help people see the world in a different and unique way. To really see what may be taken for granted everyday. For me it’s the small things that matter most.


9. Do you collect anything?

Too much! Mid-century ceramics, furniture, folk art, contemporary art, Yoruba beaded items, Tom Uttech paintings.

10.  What words of advice would you give to artists during this time?

Really put the time in your studio. Be yourself. Be unique. Don’t sell your integrity. Most of us can’t make a living from our work so why give up that part of yourself?

11.  In the last five years what new belief, or habit has most improved your life or studio practice?

I enjoy treating the studio like a factory or full time job. Meaning not just cranking out tons of crap but to work hard every day. Inspiration comes so infrequently that I need to rely on hard work and repetition hoping to stumble on “mistakes” that will help me to move forward.

12.  Share an inspiring image.

Kiyomizu dera, Kyoto, Japan. On Saturday young people dress in traditional kimonos and walk around Gion. It makes it feel as if one has stepped back in time. Amazing!





Angell's work is available on ARTSY as a part of the ongoing online exclusive exhibition: Small Works. For more information about the work above and to see a resume and statement visit Brett's page on ARTSY: https://www.artsy.net/artist/brett-angell/works-for-sale

James May Gallery

219 State Street

Algoma, WI 54201

HOURS: CLOSED for the safety of all.

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mail@jamesmaygallery.com

262-753-3130