Everyone has that thing that identifies them early in life. For me, it was being a quiet nerd. For Brian Mashburn, it was “being the kid who could draw really good” and he admits he took some pride in that. With his “social currency” being gifted with the ability to draw the world around him and the one in his imagination, Brian knew in his deepest heart of hearts that art was his path. So he traveled down it and that teamed with an appreciation for nature landed him in one of the most creative communities in the US. Now let’s get to know more about this stunning artist.
Kendra: Looking at your small heron piece and another, Cataloochee, I was reminded of the beautiful imagery in Disney’s Bambi. Were you inspired at all by animation?
Brian Mashburn: On some level, I’m sure I was. I grew up in the ’80s when cartoons still resembled something handmade and watched plenty of them. That being said, any influence on my current work would be more subliminal than explicit.
Kendra: Has painting been your one and only career path or have you dabbled in other realms?
Brian Mashburn: I’ve spent a fair amount of time waiting tables and on various job sites but my career ambitions have always been in the art world. In addition to painting, I’m also a picture framer and occasionally take on some illustration and graphic design projects.
Kendra: You do a lot of realistic pieces but then there was this one of giant ducks overlooking a village. Where did that surrealist idea spawn from?
Brian Mashburn: That was a fun one. It was for a group show of repurposed hotel art with a bunch of Asheville based artists. We all got these framed prints of generic hotel room art and were tasked with altering them somehow. I only painted the ducks, the little village scene was there already.
Kendra: Possibly the creative spirits that inhabit Asheville. What is it about that community that is so appealing to the artistic community?
Brian Mashburn: I can’t speak for other folks who come here but for me, the mountains had a lot to do with it. Asheville and the surrounding area is a visually stunning place so I guess it follows that visual people would be attracted here. I spend a good bit of time outside and have gotten to know the mountains around town quite well.
There’s probably a social or political component to Asheville’s appeal, too. It’s a fairly progressive city and being in the south lends it a sort of haven-like quality for like-minded individuals. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, probably a little of both.
Kendra: Could you ever imagine being as inspired anywhere else on the map?
Brian Mashburn: Sure, I’m pretty fond of the Pacific Northwest. Alaska, too. I like to think that it doesn’t really matter where I live but I’m sure there are limits to that.
Kendra: People can buy your work online and in galleries across the country but do you ever show them locally, or travel to art shows with them?
Brian Mashburn: I don’t show much locally. I have some prints and small studies available at the Woolworth gallery in Asheville but that’s about it outside of the occasional group show. I travel somewhat regularly for shows, it’s one of my favorite things about this work. After an opening, I’ll often take a few days to explore the region around the gallery. Travel has become an integral part of my process – I use the couple days after an opening to gather reference material in the form of photographs for upcoming shows.
Kendra: What’s on your plate for the next couple of months? New pieces? New shows?
Brian Mashburn: I have a handful of group shows this spring then a solo at Haven Gallery in New York in July. Later this year I’ll be showing with Beinart Gallery in Melbourne, Australia. It’ll be a busy year, looking forward to it.