J Bracken Rourke’s Spring Burst opens at The Rourke
The Rourke Art Gallery + Museum is pleased to present Spring Burst, an exhibition of ceramic tile, paintings, and functional art by J Bracken Rourke in the museum’s East Gallery. The member preview of the exhibit is Friday 10 May 2019 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The public opening is Sunday 12 May 2019 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. with a gallery talk by Rourke at 2 p.m. The exhibit will be on view through Sunday 9 June 2019.
Spring has always been my favorite time of the year. It’s probably our long, cold winters that make those first sunny, warm days stand out even more than summer and fall. The first breaths of those sweet spring breezes along with the green grass and leaves making their first appearance after dormancy makes me come alive as well. Making the first trips back to Cotton Lake at this time of year growing up and as an adult has always been a special, invigorating time.
As I was thinking about what possible names and themes would be a nice fit for this upcoming exhibition, I finally noticed the name was right in my studio, right in front of my eyes. A painting that I had partially finished was in my studio, leaning among others. The painting was aptly named Spring Burst. And just like that: No more brainstorming would be needed.
Spring Burst has had much more significance than just a theme for the exhibition. It is quite personal to me this particular spring after an extended period of personal challenges the last couple of years. Those challenges culminated in a very dire set of medical circumstances. For a time there was much concern if I was ever going to get back to my studio again.
After several months of slow but steady improvement, the time was right beginning in early January to start creating art again. Throwing myself head first into an almost maniacal frenzy of creating was the perfect scenario for my mind and body. There were ideas and concepts that had been floating in my mind ready to come to fruition.
With some new materials and techniques that have made their way into my art, it has been a personal renaissance after a period of personal challenges. Discovering the therapeutic value of creating artwork was a newfound experience for me. With a mix of tile art, functional art, and paintings, there is a perfect cross section of the last few months of work represented here.
I hope those who view my new work can enjoy and see a new season in my life, as well as the new season we find surrounding us.
J Bracken Rourke Autobiography
I was born in Moorhead MN, and grew up in the Fargo, ND and rural Detroit Lakes, MN area. Growing up surrounded by artwork, the smell of oil paint, and the aroma of kiln firings, it cemented an early foundation of art—especially clay—that would be invaluable later in life when I decided this would become my full time vocation. After graduating from Concordia College in 1989 with a Political Science degree and Psych-History emphasis, I did not immediately pursue a career in this field. My goal in the long-term was to start a business and be my own “boss” someday.
Everything came together on July 24, 2000: The first baby steps of forming of my business, Cotton Lake Tile. Starting out with clay, a few glazes, and a tricky wood fired kiln, I began working out of a 12 x 20 foot studio at the family lake place. My thought was if there’s any chance to make this full time, concentrating on tile would be the focus.
Beginning with framed decorative tile and working with shops and galleries got things off the ground. I developed a glazing style that had a distinct abstract style. This inevitably led customers to commission me to make tile for indoor/outdoor applications. Then the business branched out to include installation of my tile in homes and commercial settings.
Now, 19 years later, Cotton Lake Tile based out of N. Fargo and has branched out to include creating counter tops, back splashes, tables, mirrors, and mosaic decorative work in homes and businesses. That is what I enjoy most: the creative aspect. Doing tile installs of all kinds has been a bigger part of the business—always with an artists flair.
A lot of the tile artwork and painting that I create is inspired by some aspect of my surroundings. Extensive travel around the states and western Europe has lent me endless inspiration. The southwest region of America, particularly New Mexico, has special significance. My father spent part of his time in the Air Force there, then earned his M.F.A. from Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM.
I’ve returned to the state many times over the years since those early days of my life. It has a sense of a second home to me, a familiarity that’s grown over the decades.
Since the inception of Cotton Lake Tile, my tile art has been in 11 solo exhibitions, 43 group exhibitions, as well as countless art fairs and shows around the country. Having been recognized for 3 First Place, 2 Second Place, 2 Honorable Mention, 2 Purchase, and 2 Best of Show awards to date, is quite an honor. Previously a segment for HGTV’s “That’s Clever” was filmed in my studio. I never pursued this work for accolades, but it is still gratifying to be recognized for the years of hard work put into this endeavor. I’m currently a member of the FMVA, Nelson County Arts Council, Minnesota Tile Club, Gallery 4, and The Rourke Art Gallery + Museum.
My latest foray in the creative art world is painting. As a child, my father—the late Orland J. Rourke—would encourage me to paint with him as well as hand-build with clay. A few years back my painting re-emerged. Finding a more personal creativity in taking a blank canvas and turning it into abstraction or realism is good for my soul. To be able to create for the enjoyment of others and love it at the same time is truly living the “dream.”
May Exhibitions at the Rourke
Main Level Galleries
George Pfeifer : Recent Work
J Bracken Rourke : Spring Burst
Selections from Northern Light: pastel & charcoal drawings by John Scott Postovit
Katherine Kilbourne Burgum & Gustavian Galleries
Relief Prints by James Tiernan O’Rourke
Duane K. Mickelson Memorial Gallery
Tri-College Sculpture Exhibition
Permanent Collection Galleries
Recent Acquisitions to the Permanent Collections
Selections from the Complete Relief Prints of James Tiernan O’Rourke
Lower Level Galleries
Gordon Mortensen reduction woodcuts (ongoing)
Work from the Fun House Press (ongoing)
To keep up-to-date, check out The Rourke’s new calendar at:
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