Donnamaria Bruton and Georgia O'Keefe: Art as Puzzle in Newport

Beth Neville, Artscope, September 1, 2022
Donnamaria Bruton's large scale paintings present us with more obscure and difficult puzzles, sort of a New York Times super-complex crossword. How I wish Bruton were alive to help guide us through the density of the symbols in her paintings and her intended "true" meanings. She died in 2012 at age 58.
 
Let us examine Bruton's "Personalities are Portable," 1995, acrylic/collage, an example of her "hide and seek" personal puzzles. Hints are explained in the printed label that tells me she included a "chair, comb, fish and umbrella." I begin my visual search and see the umbrella pointed like a violent spear toward the bedstead. Its handle is a vicious f ish-hook shape painted in black, the color of "death." Is that the fish on a plate in the top corner? I see the spoon and fork, but the serrated knife I spot much later in my visual search. Now, what about those two daggers with round eyes embedded in them? This is the strongest, most violent symbol in the painting. I see them protruding from a "hat, or a head?"
 
But another viewer, a friend who is a professional psychologist, insists it is a "chair." Yes, she is right, the didactic label says it is a "chair." But I still see the "monster head with fangs and glaring eyes." The milky, wishy-washy collaged background provides a slate board for Bruton's hand-drawn sketchy symbols, but there is one distracting rectangle of vegetable-green off to the left, the only vivid patch of color. Can this be a "window" looking out of her bedroom?
 
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