Finding joy both in Gwinn and in art studio

Jenn Tran

Jennie Brott shares her passion in painting, curating art collection

To Jennie Brott, art is as essential as breathing.

Growing up, Brott was surrounded by the arts; she was a singer, a percussionist and a dancer.

“My parents were artists; it was a natural expression,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of things that were different expressions of art.”

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Christopher Hendrickson | The Falcon

Neighbors she had grown up knowing were recently placed in adult care facilities. So, they gave ownership of their art collection to Brott and her father.

Originally from Ashland, Oregon, Brott grew up surrounded by art and artists.

It was not until her father accepted a teaching job at the University of Washington that she relocated to Seattle.

After moving into their family’s one-acre home, her father built her a 12×10 building on the patio behind their house, serving as her very own art studio.

Brott spends 15 hours every weekend in her beloved space.

This April will mark her third year of greeting students at the cash register in Gwinn.

Although she now works here on campus, in her spare time Brott enjoys running her website, where she is able to display and sell art.

“I’m still in the beginning of creating the website and selling the art. There are a lot of aspects to worry about with another person’s collection. My goal is to have a website that can include several artists because my mother and father would also have art that they would want to present. Primarily it will be the collection that I have,” she said.

She describes her current collection of pieces divided into two parts: “pre-stroke” and “post-stroke.”

The artist of the collection had a stroke in the ‘90s, Brott explained. Because of this, he lost the use of his right hand and had to learn to paint with his left.

“The pre-stroke paintings are all very exact; they go from 1950s to mid ‘90s. The post-stroke paintings are all pastel paintings that he did with his left hand, they’re incredible,” she explains. “It looks like two different artists but it’s not, when you see them together you see the whole person.”

Inside of her art studio are three tables set up over the top of her work that have “stacks and stacks of art,” she describes. She is in currently in the process of categorizing the art, and curating it.

“But if you look beyond it, my paintings are up all over the walls. I even have a few pieces up really close to the ceiling,” she said.

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Christopher Hendrickson | The Falcon

Brott says that if she weren’t creating art, she could be dancing. She danced freestyle and some burlesque — she taught burlesque to ballerinas years ago. She also worked with a comedian and did shows, she said. Brott also practiced modern dancing until the intensity of being a dancer became overwhelming.

“I stopped dancing in my late 20’s, I was in college and wanted to do other things,” she said.

She now considers those days “ancient history.”

It was around that time that Brott learned how to paint traditionally. Although her paintings began consisting primarily of portraits, she became excited about abstract art after leaving Cornish College of the Arts.

“When I went to Cornish, they did not encourage representation of art; they encouraged abstract art. I never did any abstract art in school, but I really got excited about it after school,” she explained.

Brott has sold several pieces of her work, and has seen her art displayed in hotels, restaurants and clinics in the greater Seattle area.

One of her favourite pieces that she has sold is a “12 inches by 36 piece, long and thin with iridescent paint, from a series,” she said. This piece currently resides with a friend of Brott’s.

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Christopher Hendrickson | The Falcon

Occasionally Brott hangs pieces up in her house. She and her husband like to rotate what they show in their home because there are a lot

of beautiful things to see and they cannot have it all up all the time, she explained.

“My house is a hodgepodge. I love 1960s and 1950s art, I have a few pieces that refer to that,” she said.

Brott’s favourite medium to work with is oil, but she stepped away from it because of its toxicity. She did say, however, that if it was ever made to be less toxic, she would return to using it.

“It’s so forgiving and it does amazing things. It has vibrant colours, yet it can be transparent if you want it to be,” she said.

Currently, as a result of watching an antique documentary with her husband, Brott dreams of taking a trip to Venice, Italy. The documentary, “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” is about antiques that were found in a hidden sunken ship off East Africa, where 100 pieces of art were found.

“The pieces are on display in Venice, Italy,” she explained. “It’s history of humankind. I’d love to go see the collection someday.”

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                                                                                       Christopher Hendrickson | The Falcon   Jennie Brott, who many students can find working at the cash register in Gwinn, also has a passion for collecting and creating art.

Brott has high hopes for the completion of her website in order for others to enjoy the collection as much as she does, and looks forward to the completion of her next collection.