Joseph Broghammer has developed into one of the region’s most original voices whose mark making can be traced from Bosch and Brueghel to Dali and Magritte and linked to the likes of John Graham and Tony Fitzpatrick. Yet, it has only been in the past decade or so that his uniquely imaginative work has received official recognition. Two significant solo shows in the past seven years have won him the Best Visual Artist and Best 2-Dimensional Artist in the annual Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards. In addition, he has also exhibited in Europe with shows planned soon for the Netherlands and Italy.
The artist’s seemingly sudden honor and recognition was not mere overnight success as he has participated in numerous group and solo exhibits in the Metro area over the past 30 years. His current art, which combines traditional form and execution with a provocative, contemporary manner, is composed mostly of large portraits of birds in pastel, pencil, charcoal and spray fixative on paper.
Technically, he describes his portraiture as “dry paintings” and, although in the past his mixed-media pieces have included elaborate, decorative shadow box frames, current images fill the frame center stage and are relatively free of the surreal tableaux that have characterized past work. Though one won’t find Broghammer’s idiosyncratic flock in any “Art of Bird Illustrations” catalogue, one cannot deny their pictorial beauty and his attention to species detail and palette. His pigeons, cardinals and parrots, among others, and the occasional elephant for good measure, are posed and costumed for dramatic effect befitting theme and mood.
The artist has also given his portraiture an undeniable personality or character; a mask, as it were, that reveals as well as conceals. This persona is then further enhanced by each portrait’s individual iconography that enhances any possible interpretation. Though Broghammer has specific, meaningful events and characters that are represented in each piece, it is ultimately pointless to attempt to decipher them in that manner. His “Flock of Joe” is personal, lyrical, and wonderfully bizarre despite their familiarity. They take advantage of our curiosity and our love of nature. Yet, they have just enough attitude to let us know that we are in his world and on his terms. Created in the private cosmos of the artist, they simply resonate as symbolic and satirical references to a macrocosm of what must be described as the human condition.
Joe Broghammer obtained a B.F.A. from the University of South Dakota, Vermillion. He also completed graduate work at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He has exhibited his work in more than forty group shows and has had solo exhibitions throughout the Midwest and beyond. His work is a part of museums, public and private collections. Joe recently won the Best of Show at the OEA Visual Awards Ceremony in December 2006 at the Bemis Underground.
"An Average Joe" by Mike Krainak
"A Flock of Joe" by Mike Krainak
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