Saugatuck Artist And Gallery Owner James Brandess | Wickwood Inn
Saugatuck Artist And Gallery Owner James Brandess
From Art School To Art Gallery Owner
In 1987 James Brandess got a job at Ox-Bow School Of Art. After graduating from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1989, Brandess stayed on in Saugatuck and had his first experience with the change of seasons here. He was captivated! Thankfully for all of us, he stayed.
In the spring of 1994, Brandess opened his first art studio here. It was on Butler Street, on the second floor, and he loved the light and the view from those second story windows.
In the year 2000, he moved his studio and fine art gallery to its current downtown Saugatuck location, also on Butler Street, in the old post office.
“It’s all about the light.”
~ James Brandess
A Conversation With James Brandess
When asked what has inspired his work and creativity here for all these years, James Brandess joyfully responded: “Saugatuck’s multi-faceted natural landscape … on a river, by the lake, surrounded by woods, dunes, and farmlands is unique to draw energy from. It continues to inspire me.”
Brandess works primarily from observation. He paints what he sees. We wanted to know what he’s intrigued by at the moment: “Right now, there’s a soft, shimmery light. A silvery quality to the landscape. It’s all about the light. That’s what inspires me and draws me outside. I paint outdoors all year round. If you visit my studio in the winter, you will see scenes with snow … not beaches and umbrellas. When I do paint the beach, it’s because something has drawn me there … the color of the water, the softness of the cottonwood trees, something special has taken me there that day.”
“People come to Saugatuck just to look at art.”
~ James Brandess
Living In Saugatuck
Of course we spent more time talking about the fantastic light, the natural beauty, and our favorite spots to hike, but eventually our conversation turned back to business. Had Brandess ever thought about packing things up and heading elsewhere? He answered with conviction: “People come to Saugatuck just to look at art. The people who live here, they have an interest in art, they have a connection to Ox-Bow … all of that influences me. People stop me and start to talk about their love of art. I can’t think of any other place that would be better to show my work!”
Evolving As An Artist
Considering James Brandess’ depth of perspective and knowledge, we wanted to know what has changed in his work over the years or what he appreciates about the paintings he is creating today?
“Now, I am more able to capture and work with the spirit of the place because I’ve had so much practice with the exact physicality. I don’t have to worry so much about whether or not I have gotten that tree just right. I have the opportunity to bring the paintings a little bit further in terms of feeling and spirit.”
Yes. We love this.
During Your Wickwood Inn Stay
Reserve a getaway to Wickwood Inn and see what’s showing in the James Brandess Studios & Gallery today! The gallery (238 Butler Street) is a 3 minute walk from Wickwood Inn. Life doesn’t get much simpler than that. Of course, at Wickwood you’ll also enjoy fine art throughout the entire inn, so take your time and look around. Life is great here. Reserve a room today and experience the splendor of downtown Saugatuck this fall.