Art was not a thing that Brendan Genther ever considered.
Sure, in junior high and high school he dabbled in photography, but that was it. For about 38 years, art wasn’t in his vocabulary. He joined the Coast Guard, sailed the world, earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington University with a major in human resources, bartended for a while and then went into the hotel industry. Two years ago, his artistic journey began and he has not looked back.
His story can almost read like a self-help book; a cure for what he called a spiraling feeling. “I was in a transitional part of my life, where nothing was in control and nothing was happening as expected. I felt truly disconnected from things,” he said.
“I needed something to do, to vent and to outlet. I started running. I lost 60 pounds. I bought a bass guitar (which is now gathering dust) and, I don’t know why, but I decided to buy a piece of canvas, some paint, and make something to decorate my apartment. I didn’t have a plan; I just wanted to play with it. And that’s what I did, played and experimented with texture and color. Thicken the paint, thin the paint, glob the paint, drag the paint, brush the paint, and drag a nail through the thick paint.”
By day, Genther works as a revenue manager for a national hotel company. His free time is spent experimenting with paint in the garage studio of his South Hill home. At first, he applied the paint to canvas, but switched mostly to strong, handmade framed wood surfaces to hold the many layers of thick paint with the addition of sheet rock mud that he buys in five-gallon buckets, sand, and other thickening agents.
The final products become emotionally and mentally charged abstracts like “When Rubber Meets the Road” which includes sand and the imprint of a tire’s tread, another that is electrically charged and includes a working light bulb amidst a thick wavy mass of color fractured with lines, and “Comment,” subtle colors vertically dripping on one side, and horizontal on the other with the addition of headlines clipped from the Wall Street Journal.
He also paints on furniture and has been turning doors into unique wine bottle holders.
“In my job, I am an agent of order. In art, I get to be chaotic. There are no directions or instructions; there is no deadline, no definition. I get to do what I do, when I want to do it, however I want to do it,” Genther said, “Being an artist certainly has changed me. I think I’m more patient with people, less patient with the status quo, more open-minded, more open to trying new things and new approaches. I’m less confined, and I’m going to keep trying new things and moving forward.”
Genther has shown sparingly, most recently at the Onion in downtown Spokane during the Visual Arts Tour. While he will most likely show his work to the public again, his motivation is more about freedom.
“I am an artist because it allows me the freedom to be in my own world,” he said. “When things in my life are a bit difficult to figure out, getting away to paint somehow puts it into perspective, things make sense again.”