Sacramento Art History Consortium’s Featured Artist: Brooke Walker- Knoblich

by Bree Garcia

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Brooke Walker-Knoblich received her BA in Studio Art from UC San Diego in 2005, studied classical art in Paris and Florence, and has vigorously pursued her fine art career by developing five large bodies of original work, exhibiting throughout Sacramento and national juried shows, teaching art, and accepting commissions.
“The process of capturing a lived interaction is what fascinates me the most as a portrait painter,” Brooke says. “Painting from life creates a synergism between artist and subject that is utterly present tense. I’ve discovered that through sensitive observation of another being we can experience their uniqueness and our own shared humanity simultaneously. I believe that in a world undergoing vast ecological & social change, art’s ability to bridge the complex dichotomy of otherness and self creates cultural conscience.”

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SAHC: Can you give us a brief description of your creative process? What is your preferred medium and style?

BWK: The very first time I painted in oils (while attending art school in Paris 10 years ago) I knew this is what I wanted to do the rest of my life. I’m madly in love with the oil medium because of its versatility and openness.  Oils stay wet long enough to really move the paint around on the canvas and mix colors spontaneously to capture the shifting light. Even the smell and the lusciousness of its shine and depth captivate me.

My current painting style fuses my classical realism training with an expressionistic approach. My creative process and style dramatically changed when I moved to Midtown and experienced the community of artists living here. I used to be very solo in my artistic pursuits, working exclusively from photo references alone in my studio and as a result my paintings tended to be very polished and static. People would often mistake my paintings for photographs, which was upsetting even though I knew it to be a compliment in their eyes. I wanted my work to show what I love most about oils and capture the energy of brushstrokes. So now I paint from life, with other artists in the field or in public studios. This change in process is revealed in the paintings collected in my most recent body of work “Alla Prima” which is on display til October 5th at the Tim Collom Gallery.  

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SAHC:As a Sacramento artist what responsibilities do you believe that you have to the local and the global community?

BWK:  I believe the power of art is to inform and transform its viewers. And art that is rooted in place and tells a real story is the most powerful art of all. Art that focuses on local issues and honors local culture begins new dialogues about what’s really important and ultimately inspires people to act within their community. In this sense, art becomes more than entertaining or just a “pretty picture.” This belief deeply influenced the subject of my last two series the “Streets of Midtown” and the “Musicians of Midtown.”

While I think it’s important for art to take on issues of global consequence I also believe that if we are to enact real change it has to start at the local level (in our own backyard, so to speak) and I look forward to examining more pressing social issues in my next painting series “Oil & Vinegar.”

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SAHC:What advice do you have for emerging artists, or those pursuing a career in the arts?

BWK: The strongest advice I can give a budding artist is to get involved and be engaged. Art is not an exercise in solipsism. It has to have a context and a community of support behind it if it’s going to be relevant and/or successful. Go to art exhibits, plays, and concerts. Immerse yourself in what’s going on here and cultivate relationships with people who express interest in your work. You never know where that next opportunity or sale will come from! And above all, never expect that someone else will run your sales and you can just create. Making a career in the arts means balancing both business and the creative process and not expecting immediate financial rewards. Tenacity and patience will be your best assets.

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SAHC: Who are some of your favorite Sacramento Artists, and why?

BWK: There are many artists in Sacramento that I admire and am inspired by. The group of artists that I’ve been meeting with on a weekly basis for a couple years now includes Pat Mahony, Boyd Gavin, Marcy Friedman, Meech Miyagi, and Fred Dalkey. All of them are quite accomplished artists and bring diverse art educations, ideas, and practices into our discussions when we work from a live model. One of the things I love most about this group is watching each artist push their own art making boundaries, rip up or paint over sub par work and always strive for excellence by working incredibly hard at their practice. I’m also inspired by Debbie Gualco, Patris, and Michael Mikolon for their cultivation of community through open studios where artists can come to paint together. I often work with Terry Miura and find his abstractions within representational painting truly captivating and Earl Boley, who’s crudely colorful landscapes and still lifes evoke so much atmosphere. But if I consider technique alone, Suchitra Bhosle is my favorite local artist. Her work is absolutely exquisite. She’s studied with some of the most famous contemporary realist painters and is represented by major galleries throughout the United States. Her artistic standing is where I hope to be in my own career in 5 years.

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SAHC:Where are some of your favorite Art/ Art History resources found?

BWK:  Locally, I attend exhibits at the all the major galleries and the Crocker Museum and often go to San Francisco’s MOMA, de Young museum etc. But all of my favorite resources I find online. By “liking” many museums’ pages on facebook I receive their exhibit news on my wallfeed. I do the same with artists I admire, art critics, and galleries that I’m interested in so I can keep my finger on the pulse of the contemporary art world. I also regularly peruse bookstores and the library’s art shelves and am always asking my artist friends who they’re looking at.

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SAHC:Is there anything else about the arts here in Sacramento that you would like share with our reader?

BWK: Sacramento is one of the most exciting artistic cities I’ve ever lived in. The diversity of our visual and performing artists truly makes Midtown an electric hub. Something is happening each and every day here and I feel honored to be a part of it. However, the financial support for art can be disheartening. Sacramento likes to think that it supports its artists by giving us space in their newspapers or paying for materials *only* for muralists.  I’ve heard work honored and praised as being an integral part of Sacramento but the very artist that created that work has left the city because he couldn’t find financial support for his art. We obviously still have a long way to go in truly supporting the arts in Sacramento.

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SAHC:Where can your work be viewed, or found online?

BWK: My art studio is located above the Tim Collom Gallery in Midtown Sacramento and is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday 11am to 6pm. I have 100+ original works of art on my website at http://www.portraitsbybrooke.com. “Like” my facebook page Brooke Paints to see paintings hot off the easel, works in progress, and other art news. If you’d like to receive invitations to my exhibits please email me at Brooke@PortraitsbyBrooke.com

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