How do we honor the meaning of friendship and the potential loss of that relationship?
This is the question Melanie M. Brannan, a Dallas-based artist and educator, grappled with as she prepared a vulnerable yet joyful series of paintings on display at the Charles W. Eisemann Center.
The “Celebration of Friendship” series includes more than 20 paintings chronicling Brannon’s friendship with Maryann Wegloski, the Eisemann Art Gallery’s coordinator, who has nodular melanoma.
“I hope you will feel my gratitude in these paintings reflecting things Maryann loves, things we laugh about together, and our shared experiences,” said Brannan. Brannan continued on to say her friendship with Wegloski has made her a better person, a better artist, and a better friend.
Brannan is donating 50% of the proceeds from the show after commission to the AIM at Melanoma Foundation (AIM). AIM is the largest non-profit international organization focused on increasing support for melanoma research, promoting prevention and education among the general public and medical professionals.
From whimsical to emotionally raw, each painting details cherished moments in Brennan’s and Wegloski’s friendship. One painting recounts a request Wegloski made as the women returned from a doctor’s appointment: Could they make a quick stop for a sandwich? Wegloski was craving a McDonald’s fish sandwich but was embarrassed to bring it up. Both women laughed as they realized their mutual passion for an old McDonald’s favorite. In “Nothing Beats Kindness,” Brennan pays homage to the Carlie Mackesy’s illustrated book, “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse.” According to Brannan, Wegloski gave her with a copy of this book in honor of their friendship.
“The book is about friendships,” Brannan said. She was moved to tears when she repeated a favorite sentence from the horse in the book: “Sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent.”
“I can’t see [Maryann] now because she’s in the hospital,” Brannan said of their once-weekly adventures.
“Every day, I go into my studio and paint for Maryann. It just helps me.”
“A Celebration of Friendship” will be on display in the mezzanine gallery through April. Due to COVID restrictions, the entire show will also be available for viewing and purchase on www.urbanartistmarket.com starting March 1.