A native of Minneapolis, Wayne Brezinka moved to Nashville in the 1990s to design album covers before becoming art director for EMI Records. In the last five years he has begun making fine art, which is when I first came across his intriguing mixed-media collages. A postcard with a miniature print of one of his portraits from "The Famine Series" came across my desk. The woman in the portrait haunted and intrigued me in her red turban. I now proudly own a large-scale print of this work along with several others.
Brezinka has been gaining quick attention. Early in his fine art career he was featured in local publications and represented by a local art gallery. It seems now the momentum is only picking up.
Just yesterday, NPR did a feature on his portrait of President Lincoln, which exhibition curator Tracey Avant is placing in the lobby of Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., where Lincoln was assassinated.12th & Broad's inaugural issue is available now. Meagan Rhodes
The portrait of Lincoln is pieced together with remnants of Civil War-era photos, newspapers, tintype portraits, photos of slaves picking cotton and of Gettysburg, cardboard, rope and several artifacts collected from the 1860s. The scraps, once all together, look from afar like a painting.
But it's seeing Brezinka's work up close that brings another dimension to it — literally. The piece changes when you can see its 3-D nature, full of textures and scraps that have their own stories to tell.
The same can be said for 12th & Broad's magazine cover, which we commissioned Brezinka to create back in December 2013. We gave him our full list of stories planned for the inaugural issue. We then met with him in our office to explain to him what we are all about, our vibe, and our overarching theme for the April issue. Then we asked him to create what he felt best represented us and the issue. What he came back with was stunning.
We chatted with Brezinka to learn more about the creative process of making this artwork:Detail of 12th & Broad's magazine cover by Wayne Brezinka. Meagan Rhodes
After reading our story list planned for the magazine, what brought you to the image of aviator sunglasses?
It was difficult — there were so many great stories and the titles were intriguing, but it was all over the board, so I was trying to figure out how to encompass everything being featured in just one image. Probably one of the biggest challenges I've had in a while — but it all had to do with Nashville. So that's where my brain started heading...reflection, water, spring, putting sunglasses on...
What's being reflected in the sunglasses?
It's an aerial view of downtown Nashville so you can see James Robertson Parkway, the stadium at LP Field, all over by the Metro Courthouse.
What kind of mixed-media objects and scraps are included in the piece?
I love to destroy old vintage books — it's sad, but so fun. And I love using the cover of the book itself...it becomes a ragged tactile piece. There's a lot of that in there. Also paint, vintage Life magazines, cardboard.
The cardboard for the grass is all old cereal boxes — I eat cereal like crazy! My office is filled with Cheerios. That's a typical element of my work. I'm even considering reaching out to the cereal companies to see where that would go.
We saw a few renditions of these aviators, first with a very simple background and no rope. When did you think to add the rope?
It was a last-minute thought. I loved being prodded by you — the challenge of adding more color, more space — I really wrestled with the thought of it sitting on the grass — it wouldn't truly reflect the aerial view of the city there. So I thought, "Well, I'll just hang them!" I tied a rope, stood back, and it made sense!
What is actually holding the sunglasses out to make that shadowbox effect?
I use foam core or stacks of cardboard to get that depth of feel in my work. I used foam core for this.
How do you find these objects? Do you have an organized collection of scraps you pull from already?
Organized, no. Collection, yes (laughs). I've got scraps stockpiled in my studio and I have to dig if I want to find a treasure. I have 1950s newspapers and black and white photographs from the '40s and bags of cloth and material. My neighbor cleaned out her attic and has been bringing me boxes of treasures. My studio is next to a junk store, which is probably the best thing that could happen! It's got booths of vintage pieces and magazines.Detail of 12th & Broad's magazine cover art by Wayne Brezinka. Meagan Rhodes
Where can we find your work?
I'm currently not represented (by an art gallery). I was previously at The Arts Company for around two years. I'm new in the fine art world, so I'm trying to find my way and see what works best with me. I love to do PR and cold-call the press and people. Some artists don't, but that works well for me. I'm just finding my way.
I have a solo show coming up in October at the First Friday art crawl in Franklin on Oct. 3 at O'More College. It's curated by David Broad, a curator and teacher out there. He approached me about doing the show — he's actually a photographer. So that'll hang for a month.
First NPR, now us — you are getting a lot of media attention these days.
This Lincoln piece is a blessing for me. Channel 4 News is coming tomorrow to do a story, Tennessee Crossroads and the Washington Post may do something. And Ford's Theatre will post about it in May. It's a greater stage — D.C. is huge. So I'm really excited and honored. So we'll see where that goes!
I also have an interview that will be posted in New York in The Curator. (Managing Editor) Meaghan Ritchey is working on an extensive piece that will post after Easter sometime.
You brought an impressive portfolio of work to our office. What are some other magazines you've worked with?
The business section of Washington Post, the arts section of the Los Angeles Times, Time Out Chicago magazine cover.
What are some album covers you've done?
I'm very grateful to have been able to work on covers for Willie Nelson, Jars of Clay, the Johnny Cash family
— for June Cash and the Carter Family, Dwight Yoakam, an Alison Krauss DVD, tour posters for Robert Plant.
Will you be at tonight's Magazine Release Party?
I'm going to try to make it!
View more of Brezinka's work at www.brezinkadesign.com. See the 12th & Broad cover art up close at our Magazine Release Party or in our office.
12th & Broad's Magazine Release Party, "Shaken Not Stirred," is April 16 at 6 p.m. The magazine will come to life with all of the contributors there to celebrate our inaugural issue!