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INTERVIEW: Artist McCormick Brubaker Dishes On The Award-Winning "Red II"

Nicole Barylski

Red II.

Earlier this year, McCormick Brubaker's Red II took home top honors at Alex Ferrone Gallery's Elemental Light National Exhibition, juried by Lisa Chalif of The Heckscher Museum of Art.

We recently caught up with Brubaker, who is based in Albany, New York, about the masterpiece, his transformation as an artist and more.

How did you get your start in photography?

MB: I grew up in Lake Forrest, Illinois, north of Chicago. One day my older brother, an attorney who loved to play the horses, shared his winnings with me and told me to "go buy something for yourself." So I bought a camera. I was in college at the time and that gift sparked my interest in photography. I studied photography and developed a mentorship with large format photographer Bobby Kolbrener, a student of Ansel Adam. I was fully hooked and decided to parlay my passion into a living.

I worked for a Profession Color Laboratory and operated a small commercial photography studio in Saint Louis, MO for more than 20 years. My large format, fine art work had successful gallery representation in the 90s, both in Chicago and St. Louis, but I stopped my gallery work when I moved to New York.

McCormick Brubaker. (Courtesy Photo)

Three years ago, my wife died suddenly and unexpectedly from cancer. While grieving, I was forced to think about what is meaningful in my life. One of the most important things has always been my personal expression created through photography. It was something to hold on to and ride out the sea of change before me. I call that epiphany 'life after loss.' I reinvigorated myself with photography and decided to start showing my work publicly again.

What inspired the piece?

MB: Red II began as a sink, an ordinary bathroom sink. It's now a sea of changing movements and colors. One of my inspirations has always been photographer Jay Maisel and his quote: "Images are everywhere and you have to be open to them." As a photographer, I look at what others pass by. That's really what you see in the Red II, the photo that Alex and Lisa picked for the show. I'm an observer. I can't help but see things. My new partner is always amazed at the things that she misses yet I notice as we walk through any kind of a scene. Alex said much of my work reminded her of William Eggleston. I told her I'd take that compliment with modesty. I would say that the inspiration for Red II is how I now see life. It is a sea of changing movements and colors that radiate emotion.

Have you ever entered an open call at Alex Ferrone Gallery?

MB: No, I have not. Previous to Alex's call, I was selected for a June show at the Jan Kossen gallery in Chelsea, NY. So, Alex's was only my second show in recent years. I have two images that are going into the Barrett Center for the Arts in Dutchess County, New York, New Directions, opening October 7th. The show is curated by Ruth Erickson who is the Associate Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. So, I'm getting back into it. Hopefully, I'll connect with a gallery here to call home.

What was your reaction when you learned you won top honors?

MB: I was surprised. I truly was. But I also thought it was a really nice image.

What are you working on at the moment?

MB: I'm working on a series of images of everyday objects you don't look at twice. When I finish working with them to create the photograph, then you notice them.

For more information, visit www.mlbrubakerphoto.com.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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