By Bascove
New York, NY, USA

After 16 years as a successful textile designer in New York City’s famed Midtown design district, Jane Braddock moved to Nashville, TN, to become a full-time abstract painter. Her remarkable acuity with texture, color and pattern were transformed into paint and canvas and the mixed media assemblages of powerful encaustics. But one of Braddock’s great passions – traveling the world, especially the countries of Asia – has proven to be the most integral to her work. Her interpretation of Eastern philosophies became the basis for the large-scale paintings; the Shakti- and Text Series which became her signature works, now in both private and public collections throughout the country.

Through the years of traveling she kept small notebooks, collecting and arranging found scraps of fabrics, leaves, string, paper and other materials that caught her eye during the day, becoming a diary of those explorations. This fall a selection of these notebook pages will be seen in an exhibition at the Nashville Public Library. After 30 years of painting exhibitions Braddock will be exhibiting an entirely new body of work – her collages – for the first time.

BASCOVE: When did you develop an interest in the arts?

JANE BRADDOCK: As a child I was fascinated by the sensate beauty of the material world. Tiny shells in tide pools – technicolor gasoline floating in puddles – wind and salt air bumping along through the woods on my bike –I don’t recall that there was anything in particular that I did, but I always knew my path was visual. I remember selling my first piece of art in 4th or 5th grade. It was crayon and India ink, a shell – kind of expressionistic and bold drawing, with an emphasis on the patterning of the surface. I never cared much about the accuracy of representation. And later when I was in art school, I realized I didn’t really respond much to Western art. I was always more attracted to ethnic or Asian expressions. For instance, perspective, I don’t care about seducing a person into a convincingly real space, I love the perspective of Japanese woodblocks – especially ones in which the viewer floats above the space looking down and basically through walls in an impossible but captivating way – more like a voyeur. Or African art, which suggests realms of experience that reach deeply into my imagination.


BASCOVE: Was there support from your family? Were there museums, books, films that inspired you? 

JANE BRADDOCK: Not particularly, I was one of those kids who didn’t fit with the rest of the family. In fact, when I was 13, I was given the choice to go away to school and I went for it. I had a great art teacher for three years there who was a very gifted watercolor artist. He used to make us do watercolors every so often before we could do something else. Though I never stayed with the medium, I took away some painting strategies and later, in my professional design career, worked in gouache. At the end of three years I had won the art award and was headed to Syracuse B.F.A. program early admission.

BASCOVE: What drew you into the world of textiles. What were your influences? Did you know anyone who made a life in that world?

JANE BRADDOCK: In those days (1964-68), Art school was much more traditional and structured. The first couple of years we all took many of the same classes: basic design, figure drawing, painting, ceramics, color and light, aesthetics, art history, etc., then specialization began. My parents encouraged me to pursue something that would have a practical application, as in “job,” in other words, not painting. I had an excellent textile design teacher and from the beginning I was attracted to repeat patters and color. The patterns were easy for me to see and imagine. I was comfortable with compressing and extending design elements to fit exactly into dimensions necessary for various printing techniques. I liked the idea of home furnishing more than fashion. In apparel, there is a scale limit, somewhat dictated by the size of a body. Though patterns may be small in home furnishing, they may also be very large. Also, in home furnishing, which includes wallpaper as well as fabric, the designs may be seen whole and completely flat – not cut into smaller pieces for dress construction. Design flaws cannot be hidden. Wallpaper, like a large painting, has an environmental aspect, which is the good news and the bad news. Also, in home furnishing the pattern is often printed in multiple colorways. This means painting the design in different color combinations and retaining the value relationships between the colors, which are often essential to printing order. You hope with any design to cover enough color bases that someone will love, and find useful, at least one combination. I was every bit the colorist as the designer.

liberated while living (from the Sanskrit Jivamukti)
acrylic on canvas (2012)                    

BASCOVE: For several years you worked at Brunschwig & Fils, one of New York City’s top fabric houses. How did that come about? Did you enjoy the work?

JANE BRADDOCK: I only had two full-time designer/colorist jobs before, at the age of 29, I cut loose to freelance full-time. My last job was at Brunschwig & Fils in New York. Originally a very expensive French house, during the war, [WWll] it was relocated to NY. Colonel Brunschwig, in spite of his war wounds, was an elegant patrician Frenchman who ran the warehouse which included our French imports. His American wife, Zelina, ran the showroom where the art studio was located. The two spaces were about 15 blocks apart but they had a near incendiary relationship. We called her Zarina Zelina – of course behind her back only. She was fierce. She would send you home if she didn’t like your outfit. However during those years I had great opportunities to work at several museums painting fresh or contemporary versions of mostly 18th C designs. I sat alone at the baronial dining table at the Carnegie mansion before it was later opened as Cooper Hewitt Museum, I worked at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum when Diana Vreeland was there, I later worked with Marella Agnelli on her first textile collection, etc. Anyway, I met great people and handled extraordinary original works of art which would not be permitted in today’s more curatorially conscious world. I also worked some at the mills. Because we were a small, expensive house, we did limited runs and therefore did mostly screen-printing. My job there was color correcting and final approval for what would be the next season’s line. I loved the process of production – the racket – the smells – the long tables blossoming into pattern.

BASCOVE: How was the decision made to move to Nashville? That’s a big change both of work and environment.

JANE BRADDOCK: Artist John Baeder, who is both my ex-husband and a dear friend, and I met in New York City and New York City was beginning to feel too long at the fair for us both. He had a friend in Nashville who we came to visit for a weekend. Crazy as it was we just spontaneously decided to move there. John was showing at OK Harris, the renowned New York City gallery, so he really could paint anywhere – and by this time, though I was still designing and coloring, I was tired of commercial textiles and ambivalent about staying in the field. Over the next two-three years, I transitioned into Japanese paste resist, creating one of a kind kimonos, and from there into painting. My first paintings were inspired by a book John had on 30’s Armstrong linoleum patterns. I would blow up the images, change them up a bit, shoot them with new color, and paint them in long vertical strips on canvas. I also painted looser more expressionistic pieces and assembled all these in varying widths together onto stretcher bars. So my first canvases were basically collages of vertical patterns – and the content was design and color – the continuum throughout my work.


BASCOVE: Had you always loved traveling? At what point did you start devoting more time to these journeys?

JANE BRADDOCK: Yes. My first big trip was in 1971. My father had died the year before and my mother wanted to be away at the actual anniversary of his death. She asked me if I wanted to accompany her to East Africa (Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania). The trip to this day remains one of the most spectacular of my life. Glorious huge landscapes, epic migrations across the Serengeti and Cessnas over the Kenyan highlands flown by retired RAF bad boy pilots. One of “our” planes had a large pin-up girl painted on it’s nose. My mother and I traveled a bit more together too…England, India, Nepal, France and Egypt…but from that first trip, I found a way to continue traveling with or without help or companions. There are still many places on my bucket list and there are some places I return to, such as India. I am going there next February for the fourth time, but I will be stopping for several days in Dubai on the way over, and then a couple of weeks in Sri Lanka, before returning, this time, to southern India. Depending on finances, I am hoping to be able to step up to a trip a year and be away a month each time. As I am getting older, I am aware that a time will come when I may not be able to withstand the rigors of travel – the air part alone is daunting – (and I can’t afford business class!) – so I want to do the long and distant trips while I can. Otherwise I am totally happy to stay home.


BASCOVE: You have said you were deeply affected by the spiritual life you found in India, Nepal and Tibet. What did this bring to you? How have you integrated these precepts of spirituality into your work?

JANE BRADDOCK: I am not interested personally in making work that is descriptive of outer reality. The work I do now comes from an internal place and its success is how faithfully I can create the space visually from which it comes. Over the years this has become more intuitive and I enjoy surrendering to that process instead of trying to figure it out. Even this resistance to the linear is more Eastern. In my trips to Asia in particular, what has stayed with me is less the philosophical or ideological underpinnings of religion, though I am interested and have read quite a bit about them, but more about the feeling. Feeling not in the emotional sense, but more like the textural quality of a space, almost like a certain zone…the dark glow of a temple with the smell of burning yak butter, a blinding swirling muddy monsoon, candles at a night market flashing on cheap colored beads, the scent of diesel and spices. I like work that is meditative, that is quiet, that is a kind of refuge, or at least that is the kind of work I want to make and the kind of work I want to live with.


BASCOVE: Texture and pattern are reoccurring elements in your various explorations. Another is typography. In each body of work it is utilized in a different way. The block stencil lettering on the large canvases is almost impersonal in feeling, diametrically opposed in to the handwritten scripts or torn pages of the collages or encaustics.

JANE BRADDOCK: Letterforms can be so beautiful they can steal the show. I use only one font in my paintings. I looked for something that was direct, serviceable and without real distinction. When I found it, I was surprised and delighted to discover it was called Phantom. The reason I wanted the letters so plain was for them to step forward as yet another layer of patterning and only secondarily be perceived as text.

The collages began as small visual notes of each day’s experiences while traveling. I travel light so I had quite a few restrictions I created for myself such as –
5" X 7” sketch book paper only, torn edge to left, scissors, glue, found objects of the day, the only drawing allowed is a found drawing. These were relatively quick and spontaneous as I was on the move. I love the aesthetics of written language and I was lucky to be in places with exotic scripts like Sanskrit, Hindi, Mandarin and Arabic, to name a few. I used the printed matter mostly without reference to its meaning – in fact, often I didn’t have a clue as to its meaning! I loved the idiosyncratic and exotic feel of the letterforms themselves.

The first trip I made these on was to Tibet. When I returned home I continued making these small collages but I allowed myself more freedom. The two biggest expansions were – I could mix materials, not just from different days, but from different locales – and I included sewing. The sewing is more time consuming so I would not do it while traveling, but I love the look of it and the process and using the thread as line – is almost drawing – but not quite.

BASCOVE: The collages seem to be a very personal response to what you have found on your travels, both immediate and spontaneous. When you allowed me to view some of those pages last year I was struck by the intimacy that can only come with viewing works of that size, as you have said, like reading a book.

JANE BRADDOCK: Yes, scale is so important to everything! My paintings are large because they are essentially color field expressions and you need to be able to walk into them, to walk into their auric field. The collages are like postcards or a picture book, something you look at. Even though both experiences are solitary – the large painting is more physical and visceral – the collages are more heady. They engage the brain more, triggering diverse associations. Also, the paintings as fields are basically without composition, they could go on forever. The collages are composed, very much designed within a small periphery. One is expansive, the other more like a secret.

#538 - encaustic

BASCOVE: You are one of the artists chosen to collaborate with master bookbinder and book artist Britt Stadig for a September exhibition at the Nashville Public Library. This is the first time you’ll be exhibiting your collages, work that you previously felt was too personal to show publicly. How did this come about? What helped you feel comfortable presenting some of these works?

JANE BRADDOCK: Part of the reason I never showed them publicly is that I never showed them much even privately. I considered them a kind of diary and didn’t think people would be interested. However, when his book project came up, though I was immediately attracted to doing something kind of way out, by that I mean outside “normal” book parameters, I flashed on the collages and thought how perfect they would be for this show. People who know me know I love books; I have tons of them. I love to read, I love to look at them, I love them as objects and I love their covers. Before I met you, I used to buy books based on your covers. They were not only beautiful, but I associated them with only wonderful books. It was my visual vetting process!

So, somehow I wanted my project to remain in the traditional book framework. Because some of the collages are dense with material and detail and therefore intense, I knew I would need to simplify what was shown. Britt and I talked about including some blank relief pages, but I felt so sad leaving so many examples out that I decided instead to arrange pages by color palette and alternate complex with simple imagery. The book is 20 pages long, but it will be double-sided. At first I was going to sandwich the pages between thin acrylic. This somewhat removed the viewer from the tactile experience, not that you will be able to touch them, but there is a visual tactility that was squashed and pushed the viewer one step back in terms of intimacy. Britt thought of floating them instead in Mylar sleeves. She showed me a couple of ways we might attach the sleeves together and though I liked more bold, obvious rivet-like attachments, we settled on translucent hinges, which further simplified the presentation and I agree will better showcase the work. We are lucky to have Scott Thom, who is Head Preparator at The Frist Museum doing exhibition for the show. Though my piece will have a box constructed for it by Britt, I am hoping the piece will be partially accordioned; open on a shelf in front of a mirror so the backside will be at least partially visible too.

BASCOVE: I understand that you gave Stadig a length of cerulean cloth to use as the outside fabric of the fold-out book, where had you found this material? What significance does it hold for you?

JANE BRADDOCK: Actually, a cobalt cotton sari with quite bright metallic gold thread. Not a great textile, a common one, like the work itself. I asked her to please use her own judgment on the “container,” but that I would like it patched. Not messy, but pieced together as if there were not enough, and what there was, was precious to someone.

Jane Braddock in her studio

BASCOVE: It will certainly be a most precious container! What projects will you be working on once you’ve completed this most sublime collaboration?

JANE BRADDOCK: My new website. It is a steep learning curve for me as I am cyber challenged. My web designer is trying to create something that I will be able to work myself. He has had a hard time explaining to me why I can’t get certain fonts lined up exactly in every format. Why an electronic page is not a book. Why not?

Otherwise, my painting. I returned from a trip to Southeast Asia in February and am doing a text piece now that reads: the supreme repository of the emerald buddha, which is one of the ancient names of Bangkok. So far it is mauve and gold.

BASCOVE: What would you like to do that you haven’t had the time or opportunity to explore?

JANE BRADDOCK: More works on paper. I stopped doing them quite a few years ago because of the cost of framing, but now there are so many other acceptable ways to show them. I love printing, I have quite a few rubber blocks I have cut and a collection of Indian wood blocks that can’t be used on stretched canvas and which I’d love to experiment more with. Also, collage may be incorporated with these, in a completely different scale model. Stay tuned.


The project at the Nashville Public Library that Jane spoke about is fascinating to me where the work of a number of artists is being transformed into book form with master book artist, Britt Stadig. I thought I would pursue this a little more by asking Britt Stadig about the exhibition.

BRITT STADIG: As a fine binder and artist, I wanted to do a project that would demonstrate “what else” book art could be. It also gave me the opportunity to work with and collaborate with a diverse, crazy talented, and amazing group of artists, the selfish part! There are three total projects/exhibits and the one Jane is in is my last/the third. 

BASCOVE: How did you decide to include Jane Braddock’s work? What made you think this would be an intriguing collaboration?

BRITT STADIG: Jane attended my first exhibit in 2014. I knew who she was, had heard about her and seen her work of course, but we had never met. Over the next couple of years, I attended some of Jane’s openings and we continued to get to know one another. Her mastery of color and compositional use of word and image seemed a perfect marriage for the project. I never know when the invitation is extended to an artist where it will take us; one of the many gifts the project offers.

I’m very excited to put her collages into the book form. The visually rich and small-scale collages hint at travel, timelines and diary keeping/recording an experience in a visual way. Their scale lends itself well to unifying the works into an artist book and an obvious visual narrative emerges. Our hope is that the individual pages provide the viewer with an intimate experience while concurrently demonstrating a larger body of work produced over time and how one collage relates to the next and how they come together as a whole. Suspending them in the Mylar sleeves also gives one the sense that the “memory” or experience has been arrested and archived in a weightless space much like a thought.


If you get a chance to visit Nashville, be sure not to miss this extraordinary exhibition, a joy for bibliophiles and art lovers alike.

20 Collaborations In Book Art III
September 8th – December 1st, 2018
Opening Reception September 8th, 2:00-5:00 pm
Nashville Public Library
615 Church St., Nashville, TN  37219

Jane Braddock’s work can be found in numerous private and public collections across the United States including Vanderbilt University, Tennessee State Museum, Nashville Convention Center, Nashville Music City Center, CNA Insurance (Chicago, IL) and Women Without Borders (San Diego, CA), among many others.

Jane Braddock   
Britt Stadig



Bascove is an artist and author. Her works of the bridges of New York City have been the subject of solo and group shows for over thirty years and are in numerous public and private collections.

All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.