Painter Brandy Mars colours outside the lines

Two figures, faces indistinguishable, embrace tightly. Motes of sunshine dapple their pores and skin, like reflections dancing on water, or shining from inside. Feathery brush strokes evoke the motion of their hair, but additionally texture. Shapes resembling butterfly wings, or pricked animal ears, mingle with the darkness. Are they being ripped aside, or holding one another collectively? 

That is Metamorphosis, considered one of lots of of works by Brandy Mars: proprietor of the self-styled “gayest lil’ reward store in all of the land” the place she sells unique art work alongside prints, posters, playing cards, and different items. She’s been promoting queer artwork since 2016, and far of her work have a tendency in direction of this aesthetic: exhibiting love, affection, or connection between female folks. 

Some are extra consultant, such because the Younger and In Love collection that depicts intricate, vibrant pairings of queer elders. Others are dreamier, extra ethereal. Feelin Fruity is a sequence of summary, vivid, sensual peaches; whereas the Romanticizing the On a regular basis assortment is extra mundane pictures, with muted color palettes depicting bathtubs or laundry rooms. They’re all completely different, however one thing within the hazy backgrounds and subtle lighting and sense of comfy craving marks all of them as Mars’ works. 

“My art work at all times looks like it’s going by way of phases, and I don’t actually notice it till later,” Mars says over the cellphone. “I really feel like I went by way of a part the place I used to be doing tremendous element, and now I’m again to doing extra flowy. It’s like rising: you don’t actually notice you’re doing it till later.” 

For some time, her work had a robust pink throughline; now she’s leaning extra in direction of cooler tones, joking that she’s in her personal Blue Interval, and at last reflecting a few of the West Coast landscapes she’s grown up round. Though she at present lives in Vancouver and works out of her beloved East Van studio, Mars grew up in “the center of nowhere”: a home her mother and father constructed themselves close to Rock Creek, about 50 kilometres east of Osoyoos. 

She moved to Vancouver at 12, after which went to trend college in Los Angeles, with stints in New York and London working in trend design and movie. Her profession has little doubt influenced her artwork, and the way in which she considers apparel inside it.

“Like telling a narrative with a runway assortment, or in movie, I feel clothes can positively be an enormous a part of storytelling, particularly for queer folks,” muses Mars. “Identification is usually actually connected to that.” 

Mars is tabling on the Vancouver Outsider Arts Pageant (VOAF) this weekend as considered one of 40 visible artists and 15 performers who’ll be taking up the Roundhouse for the occasion. VOAF celebrates artists who dwell and work on the margins, which actually means anybody dealing with social exclusion with a view to problem stereotypes about what counts as artwork. 

Mars’ work, with its sturdy emphasis on queerness, femininity, and expressiveness, is gorgeous—however she struggled to seek out acceptance inside the mainstream artwork sphere.

“I feel it’s very nice for marginalized artists to have a spot to point out. I wish to preserve all the pieces tremendous constructive, however it’s a battle to make homosexual artwork. There have been a variety of obstacles, however I additionally suppose it’s always enhancing,” she displays. “It’s actually vital for occasions like Outsider Arts to help artists like that, and different artists that perhaps don’t match right into a mainstream, super-conservative realm.”

Mars is a workaholic, always portray new items that are inclined to mirror no matter she’s at present into. She initially simply painted with acrylics however has been experimenting extra with oils, constructing texture and mixing paints to create the dreamy, ethereal look her works are actually recognized for. 

General, although, she desires her works to make viewers really feel one thing: familiarity, recognition, heat. The joys of being seen.

“An important factor is that this sense of connection in my art work,” she says. “My artwork has helped me to hook up with this enormous neighborhood of queer folks…artwork is basically about connection, in totality, to me.”

When: October 12 to 16, 12pm to 8pm; October 17, 12pm to 5pm

The place: Roundhouse Group Arts and Recreation Centre, 181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver

Admission: Free

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