THIS WEEK: Benefit for Women Against Abuse, Gallery talk at The Bazemore Gallery, and more!

There’s still time to purchase tickets for Tuesday’s benefit for Women Against Abuse at Panorama Wine Bar.  I will donate a percentage of any art sold through the event to Women Against Abuse.

$20 tickets include gourmet hors d’oeuvres and sommelier-selected wines.  Panorama Wine Bar recently received a glowing review from The Philadelphia Inquirer’s food critic, Craig LaBan.Art&WineEvent 1

The mission of Women Against Abuse is to provide quality, compassionate, and nonjudgmental services in a manner that fosters self-respect and independence in persons experiencing intimate partner violence and to lead the struggle to end domestic violence through advocacy and community education.

Women Against Abuse strives to provide a continuum of care—from telephone crisis counseling to long-term supportive housing—in a manner that promotes victim safety, autonomy and dignity.

  • Safe Havens: Since 1977, Women Against Abuse has operated Philadelphia’s only safe havens for victims of domestic violence.
  • Legal Center: The Women Against Abuse Legal Center is among the first in the nation dedicated to victims of domestic violence.
  • Sojourner House: Women Against Abuse operates the region’s first transitional housing program for abused women and children.
  • Safe at Home Program: The Safe at Home Program provides survivors with community-based case management services and financial assistance to safely transition to homes in the community.
  • Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline: Women Against Abuse leads the 24-hour, citywide hotline, a central point of access for crisis counseling, safety planning and referrals.
  • Community Education and Training: Women Against Abuse educators train professionals, students, survivors and community members to effectively intervene in the cycle of abuse and avoid unhealthy relationships.



Please join us at The Bazemore Gallery on Wednesday, April 12 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm for a gallery talk about my solo exhibit, Theoretical and Concrete.  I will talk about my inspirations, the evolution of the work in the show, and the techniques and processes involved in making paintings from brick dust.  Light refreshments will be served.

The Bazemore Gallery is located at 4339 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127.  Regular gallery hours are 12-7, Wednesday through Sunday.  Theoretical and Concrete ends Saturday, April 15th.

Co-Curators Brooke Lanier and Yanlin Li in front of the work of Paula Cahill and Tamsen Wojtanowski.

Co-Curators Brooke Lanier and Yanlin Li in front of the work of Paula Cahill and Tamsen Wojtanowski.

Thanks for everyone who came to the opening of “Try to Understand” at Brooke Lanier Fine Art.  The show continues through April 28th.  Gallery hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 12-5 and by appointment.  To view more photos of the opening, visit the Facebook page of Brooke Lanier Fine Art.

Benefit for Women Against Abuse at Panorama Wine Bar

Art&WineEvent 1
$20pp Purchase Tickets
Wine & Hors d’oeuvres

Portion of Art Sales to Benefit WOMEN AGAINST ABUSE

The mission of Women Against Abuse is to provide quality, compassionate, and nonjudgmental services in a manner that fosters self-respect and independence in persons experiencing intimate partner violence and to lead the struggle to end domestic violence through advocacy and community education. To learn more visit

“Try to Understand” opens April 2nd from 12-3 pm

Try to Understand “We are so logic-driven we cannot stand the absence of it.” – Frans de Waal

April 2nd through 28th, Brooke Lanier Fine Art presents Try to Understand, a group exhibition examining the ways that the human mind deals with apparent chaos or disorganization. We look for patterns and relationships in disorder, and if we cannot find them, we devise artificial means of categorization and structure.

The show features work by David Aipperspach, Paula Cahill, Laura Krasnow, Brooke Lanier, Yanlin Li, Sarah Pater, and Tamsen Wojtanowski.

This collection of contemplative paintings and photographs brings together imagery of the natural world and manmade interventions through architecture and scientific analysis. David Aippersbach and Brooke Lanier paint meticulously detailed renderings of patterns in grasses and foliage, while Paula Cahill traces the movements of fish and the contours of botanic forms. Laura Krasnow’s photographs superimpose graphs and scientific imagery over these naturally-occurring patterns.

Other work in the show takes a different tack, referencing architectural interventions designed to control our environment. Sarah Pater’s paintings were inspired by the interior architecture of office buildings, crafted to subtly scontrol the behavior and interaction of their inhabitants subtly. Tamsen Wojtanowski’s subtly-layered cyanotypes are meditations on the failures of buildings. These once-sturdy frames that neatly organized their interior spaces and served specific functions are now losing their utility and orderly structure.

The show is open to the public Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment. A brunch opening will be held on April 2nd from 12 to 3 p.m. As the spring approaches and the clouds retreat, the gallery receives refreshing sunlight in the afternoon. Join us for coffee, muffins, and conversation with the artists.

“Theoretical and Concrete” at The Bazemore Gallery

Brooke Lanier: Theoretical and Concrete
The Bazemore Gallery
4339 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127
Phone: (215) 482-1119
March 4th through April 2nd  UPDATE! The show has been extended through April 16th.

36" x 36" Acrylic, brick dust, and damar varnish on canvas.

“Ideas about Mountains and Valleys.” 36″ x 36″ Acrylic, brick dust, and damar varnish on canvas.

Brooke Lanier is an artist who finds beauty and interest in what can be imperceptible to others.  She brings a microscopic eye and a deep-seated intellectual curiosity about the natural world to her paintings. As she stated, “Whatever you spend a lot of time thinking about becomes important. Paying intense attention to overlooked details of the natural world elevates mundane things.”

In the series of works that comprise the exhibition Theoretical and Concrete Brooke has created paintings from brick dust which bring together the art historical lineage of Japanese and Chinese landscape painting with the aesthetics of urban decay.

The Japanese and Chinese traditions that inform Brooke’s Imaginary (theoretical) series are predicated on the concept of finding balance in the passive and active to produce a proper landscape. Japanese and Chinese landscapes use the depiction of mountains to connote the passive and water to represent the active.  In her Imaginary series the depicted mountains are ethereal and not capable of being climbed. They exist solely in theory and not in nature. Their empyrean quality lends even more emphasis to their chimerical quality.  Yet Brooke has rendered them with such exquisite brushwork that the viewer is drawn to contemplate a journey.

By contrast the Fishtown (concrete) series is grounded in reality even though the depicted walls do not exist.  While the brushwork of Imaginary is spontaneous, the creation of the pigments used in all of the paintings in this exhibition is a deliberate and time-consuming process.  Foraging for discarded bricks in forgotten and abandoned buildings and lots in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood, Brooke transported them back to her studio where she began the arduous process of culling the bricks by color, shattering and then grinding the bits to a fine dust with a mortar and pestle.  This resulted in an assortment of 20 individual colors ranging from peach to chocolate, russet to purple.  After mixing these pigments with various media they became her paint. And then the deliberate process of creation began.

The juxtaposition of these two bodies of work are visually compatible while offering a yin and yang element of opposite concepts co-existing in harmony.

– Deborah Oliver, Curator

“Near and Far” at Gross McCleaf and “Fresh Paint” feature

The opening of "Near and Far."

The opening of “Near and Far.”

Thanks to everyone who came to the opening of “Near and Far” at Gross McCleaf Gallery.  This group show includes a huge variety of interpretations of the concept of landscape painting.  It is still up until August 31st.  You should definitely go see it if you’re able, but for those of  you who are too far away, here is a preview slideshow of a few of the paintings on display.

I’m also featured this week in Fresh Paint Magazine‘s blog! Fresh Paint is an international, bimonthly art magazine and they also have an excellent website which highlights up-and-coming artists.

If you’d like to see what I’m doing on  a day-to-day basis, I frequently update my Instagram account with images of work in progress and things that inspire me.

The Absence of Things: An essay about Brooke Lanier’s “Surface Tension” by Leslie Friedman


The most striking aspect of Brooke Lanier’s newest body of work has as much to do with what she is not painting as it has to do with what she is painting. I reflect on this after I visit the artist in her studio as she prepares for her exhibition entitled Surface Tension. Her self-described “glorified weeds” and “weedscapes” begin with bright yellow and orange underpaintings, offering every inch of her canvases a brilliant luminosity. But what makes these works particularly arresting is how the central subject has gone missing. Left is a silhouette of the thing itself, in the splendid glowing shade. “All that is painted,” explains Lanier, “is the place between the weeds. I painted everything but the weeds and that made the weeds happen.” She goes on to tell me how this strategy creates a push and pull between what the viewer will notice. “Because there is nothing there, it both calls attention to itself and makes the things that are there more important,” she gestures to the areas between that are rendered water. “There is all this stuff happening that you can pay more attention to because there’s a missing element.”

Enormous Glorified Weeds

“Enormous Glorified Weeds” Oil on canvas, 5′ x 6′

Lanier is making paintings about the less noticeable parts of our natural world in order to draw attention to them. These paintings are essentially windows or portals to another place. I ask Lanier if there is something particular about living in Philadelphia that made her want to paint the natural world. She laughs and reminds me, “A lot of people who live in cities might never see things like this. When I first moved to Philadelphia I lived in South Philly and then I lived in Fishtown, and there weren’t any trees anywhere,” she laughs again. “And anywhere that there would have been a boulevard with grass anywhere else I had ever lived, it was like, ‘No, let’s just pave that over. We hate green and growing things in this city.’” Lanier, who grew up in the woods of Minnesota, might feel the absence of nature more strongly than other people. Her familiarity with the real landscapes of her paintings, which often depict a lake in Minnesota that she’s gone to her entire life, and a fishing pond on the farm where her father and grandfather grew up, provides her a vantage point that neither glamorizes nor overlooks its subject. Thus, Lanier is in a particular position to provide these windows precisely because she can identify the need for “green and growing things” in this cement playground.

Oil on panel, 18" x 18"

“Weedscape 5″ Oil on panel, 18″ x 18”

Lanier gives reverence to the lowly weed for its resilience and pioneering spirit. By breaking down rocks and cement into useable terrain, weeds are able to survive in places that other plants would not. Furthermore, they transform desolate environments into fertile grounds merely by completing their life cycle, their dead remains becoming rich soil for the next generation of plants. “Weeds are the gentrifiers of the natural world,” Lanier jokes. But all joking aside, Lanier’s awareness of the weed’s disregarded status is precisely why she has made it the subject matter of her paintings. Her use of scale, cropping, and silhouetting reify the weed from something that might have been painted without attention to detail into something that has achieved an astonishing amount of attention by the artist.

But why pay so close attention to, of all things, a weed? I ask Lanier how she arrived at this body of work and she points to some smaller paintings I might have otherwise overlooked. Calling these “fishing nocturnes,” in an homage to Whistler, she defies the highly conceptual, sarcastic works she is seeing in Philadelphia’s contemporary art scene, and just focuses on painting what she truly thinks is beautiful. These preliminary nocturnes do not have the iconic missing elements that are, in my opinion, the stars of this new body of work, but they are an important bridge in terms of getting her to these most recent works.

"Fishing Nocturne" Oil on canvas, 18" x 18"

“Fishing Nocturne” Oil on canvas, 18″ x 18″

Of the difference between this body of work and her previous, Lanier says of her weed and waterscapes, “These are not about us, we just happen to be here.” The juxtaposition of the intricately painted water against the flatness of the weeds, boats, or docks left out of her compositions speaks to Lanier’s point about what gets our attention. Because these paintings have a graphic element, they also reference elements from the decorative world like wallpaper and lace.

Upon my mention of lace, Lanier gets excited. “For ten years now I have been obsessed with patterns that reoccur on a man-made and natural, macroscopic and microscopic level. Lace is one of those things. If you look at lace versus capillary exchange, or the way that veins branch in a plant, or a highway system, or tributaries of rivers, there are just so many things that all have these patterns. So a lot of this work is about finding patterns and finding the movement or the implied movement. These paintings,” she says, gesturing to the series of smaller, square paintings where the weeds take up the entire panel, “are about the way the weeds fall over.”

She points to the paintings with the missing boats and docks. “These paintings are about the way that the water changes according to your vantage point. When you’re looking right down at it, you see the bottom, and the farther out, the more the water reflects everything else: the water quality itself, the color of the water, the turbulence, and everything all at the same time, and it all comes together in this pattern. Wherever you go in the world, water behaves in a reliable manner in terms of its patterns of movement and reflection.”

What underlies everything Lanier studies in Surface Tension is her obsession with the interrelation of patterns. Unlocking the code in these patterns is a puzzle Lanier is eager to solve. Partially, it is her willingness to spend years and years staring at something. But also, she gets a satisfaction in conquering the depiction of difficult phenomena such as water with its ever-changing appearance. Finding the logic in these things gives her pleasure. “It’s sort of a compulsion to make sense of something. If you stare at something long enough, the hope is that it will begin to make sense.” Through observation, Lanier has conquered some big visual puzzles, but she is quick to point out how painting these things is as much about the process as it is the evidence of her triumph over chaos. “Sometimes it happens during the making. You start to notice that things line up in a certain way and then once you see that one thing, you see everything. The whole thing makes sense.”

"Before the Storm" Oil on canvas, 36" x 60"

“Before the Storm”
Oil on canvas, 36″ x 60″

After our conversation and looking at these paintings, I am left contemplating the difficulty and importance in the task of shifting a viewer’s focus. A public will come to any piece of art with its own preconceived biases and preferences. Today’s world seems to focus more and more on the flashy, shiny object. What Lanier is trying to do is open-up a metaphorical tin of smelling salts underneath the noses of those who do not even know they have lost consciousness. She wants to cleanse their palettes and help them to appreciate the beauty in the things they have long overlooked. It is here that the title of her show Surface Tension begins to make the most sense to me; the tension between what is depicted and what is not, what is graphic and what is painterly, shifts our preconceived notions about what is worth our attention from the illusion to the real. It is the absence of things, and not some sort of smoke and mirrors, that reminds her viewers how beautifully complicated our world truly is.

Leslie Friedman is the founder of the collective NAPOLEON, a former fellow of the Center for Emerging Visual Artists, and a 2014 recipient of the Fleisher Wind Challenge. She is a nationally and internationally exhibiting printmaking and installation artist working in Philadelphia. To view her work, visit

A Sandwich That Would Kill You: The Reasons Paintings Are So Expensive

This is a painting.  For a perspective on how large it is, I have helpfully placed a humble peanut butter sandwich next to it.  The bread is slightly larger than standard, but it will suffice for our analogy. I will eat that sandwich for lunch later unless I forget where I put it.  That is not a logical location for a sandwich.  In fact, I should probably move that sandwich before I proceed with this explanation of the costs involved in making a large oil painting.


Presumably most people who will read this have at some point spread butter onto toast or made a peanut butter sandwich.  You have some idea of how much butter or peanut butter it takes to cover a piece of bread.

For the purpose of this analogy, let us say that this tube of paint in my hand is approximately the size of a stick of butter.  (This stick of butter will poison you if you eat it.  Don’t eat it.)


I use a lot of Williamsburg Cobalt Blue.  A tube this size costs around $90.  The cheapest tube of paint this size in brands I use costs about $20. (Prices fluctuate with sales and tax rates. Other paints might be cheaper, but they are lower quality and less stable.)

Imagine the size of the pat of butter you use to cover a piece of bread, even if it is melted down to the thinnest possible film.  I do that sometimes with poppy oil, which costs about $20 for a Coke can’s volume.  I add other media to the paint as well, but let’s keep this simple.

Even if I use the thinnest layer possible, look at that painting.  Imagine how many pieces of bread it would take to cover that thing!

When I do use incredibly thin paint, I use layers and layers of it to create effects that cannot be achieved by mixing these colors directly together.  I’m using this painting as an illustration of that because you can more clearly see the distinct layers.


I started by painting the entire surface that orangey-yellow color, then painted each layer around that.  The warmest parts look closest to you, but are actually the bottom layer.  This takes forever! (I’m not complaining, just explaining.  I enjoy painting these intricate, detailed compositions.  It is very challenging.) Sometimes I’ll work on a large painting for two months for 3-4 hours a day.

Not only does it require a lot of time and patience, but it also means I need a bunch of teeny, tiny brushes.


Look at those teeny things! Aren’t they cute? I kill them with awful frequency.  Even if I take really good care of them and spend a lot of care priming and sanding my canvases to make sure they are as smooth as possible, the abrasion of the bristles against the surface makes them frayed and no longer capable of creating crisp, precise lines.  The one on the left is made by Escoda, my preferred brand, but each of them costs around $13, depending on size and sales.  Bigger brushes cost more.  I think the most expensive brush I have right now was around $80.  I have a ton of brushes of various sizes, materials, and level of quality.

The painting pictured with the toast has about $60 worth of canvas and $40 worth of primer on it.  The cost of the wooden frame on the back varies.  For the sake of argument, let’s say that stretcher cost $100.  It takes about a day’s work to make such a thing if I were to do so myself.  I don’t have access to a wood shop right now, so I sometimes buy them from graduating MFA students.

If we ignore the cost of labor and the time it takes to stretch canvas over the frame, prime it three or four times, and sand it between each coat, I’ve invested $200 in this thing before I even put a drop of paint on it. That doesn’t include the cost of renting studio space or transporting materials.

I’ve explained that it takes a whole lot of butter/paint to cover a surface of this size.  Multiply that by a whole bunch for some of my paintings, which have paint about 1/2 inch thick in places!

Now that you know what goes into making a big oil painting, maybe it is less baffling why art is expensive.

I’m going to go eat that sandwich now.  I hope you have a great day!



“Going Away Without Moving”


PHILADELPHIA, PA: Brooke Lanier Fine Art will be hosting an exhibition of paintings that explore different ways to depict water and the landscapes that surround it. The paintings in “Going Away Without Moving” serve as a means of escape. They are invitations to restorative, peaceful places where one can contemplate the sublime expanse of open sky and the beauty in mundane details.

Some of the paintings in this exhibition are so enormous they fill the viewer’s peripheral vision, functioning more as environments than two-dimensional images. Others serve as windows into scenes that call forth memories and appeal to the imagination. Lanier paints her favorite places with a meditative attention to minutia, such as patterns of weeds and reflections in water, with a care that evokes an empathetic response. People “recognize” these locations as sites significant to their own biographies, even though the actual geographic locations are nowhere near each other.

“Going Away Without Moving” is open to the general public on Thursday, September 24th and Friday, September 25th from 5-8 pm. During these times, there will be light refreshments and informal artist talks. Anyone wishing to view the work at another time is encouraged to contact or 507-358-1596 to make an appointment.

Brooke Lanier earned her Masters of Fine Arts degree in Painting from Tyler School of Art, where she spent her first year of graduate school studying in Rome, Italy. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has shown her work in Rome, Italy; Prague, Czech Republic; and across the United States, most notably in The Smithsonian Institute’s S. Dillon Ripley Center and the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Established in 2012, Brooke Lanier Fine Art is a multi-purpose space that serves as a gallery, classroom, and studio. When it is not being used as a gallery, Brooke Lanier teaches private drawing and painting lessons and makes her own work in this space. Brooke Lanier Fine Art is conveniently located in Center City Philadelphia in The Camac Center, a building adjoining the 12th Street Gym. 201 S. Camac Street is nestled between Walnut, Locust, 12th and 13th streets.


Holiday Events 2014

Come visit Brooke Lanier Fine Art

201 S. Camac Street, 4th Floor

Philadelphia, PA 19106

Wednesday, there will be guided tours of the building, which also houses other small businesses such as spas and personal trainers. During the open house, Brooke will display new work.

Saturday and Sunday there will be temporary discounts on many small and older paintings, drawings, and prints.  To preview some of the pieces available, visit her facebook page or flickr album.

Philadelphia Open Studio Tours: “Made In Philly” ad campaign features Brooke Lanier

Come visit Brooke Lanier Fine Art on October 5th and 6th as part of Philadelphia Open Studio Tours from 12-6 pm.

This billboard is currently on display in the City Hall station on the Broad Street Line Subway.  Come visit Brooke Lanier Fine Art on October 5th and 6th as part of Philadelphia Open Studio Tours from 12-6 pm.

The Center for Emerging Visual Artists and presenting sponsor Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation’s With Art PhiladelphiaTM are pleased to present the 14th Annual Philadelphia Open Studio Tours featuring Made in Philly: a campaign that highlights the extraordinary quantity and quality of visual art being produced in Philadelphia and connects each work displayed to the neighborhood (even block) where it was created. For more details on the campaign and the 2013 Tours, visit