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‘Through the Years’ with Mark Braun

Some of the illustrations feature old-fashioned habits in unlikely places.

NEW ULM — A collection of illustrations by New Ulm native Mark Braun is coming to The Grand Center for Arts and Culture.

The exhibit called “Through the Years” is a collection of Braun’s works from the 1970s and the present.

Braun graduated from Cathedral High School in 1971 and from Mankato State University in 1975 with a degree in fine arts and advertising art.

Alongside his career in advertising art, Braun has been an avid illustrator. This gallery show features a combination of older illustrations and new illustrations made specifically for this show.

Braun estimated half of the sketches are new with the other from around 1975. Braun said many of his older sketches were sold or given away, but as the owners of these illustrations age, the drawings have been returned to him, rather than be resold at garage sales.

Mark Braun bases his illustrations off photograph, many of them of famous people and personalities.

Some of his illustrations are still kept by the owners but were loaned back to Braun for this show.

His original illustrations were framed in rough cedar because it was cheaper. For this exhibit, Braun chose to frame even the new illustrations in cedar, as a fun throw-back approach. The only clue to which sketches are old or new is the date in the corner.

All of the illustrations were done in pencil. Braun said his background was in strategic art and his works were easiest to complete with a pencil. Some of his illustrations may look familiar because they were based on old photographs.

“I would find old photographs and draw them, maybe flesh them out,” he said. “Very little is done from my memory.”

Braun said his early drawings were completed in three or four hours. His modern drawings were completed over several weeks.

Music is a common motif in Braun’s illustrations. A variety of instruments can been seen in his drawings. Braun often plays guitar with this grandson in a group called “Old Man and the Kid.”

A circle motif can be found in most of his works. The illustration is centered in a circle with the subject slightly coming out of the circle. Most of his subjects are people.

Braun has a talent for creating detailed drawings of faces. There are a few animal drawings that Braun considered some of his more challenging illustrations. The animal drawings are examples of him testing his abilities.

Another common motif is music. Braun is a music enthusiast and often plays with his grandson Kaleb Braun-Schultz. Many of the illustrations feature famous musicians and instruments.

The exhibit will also feature some examples of his commercial art. In the 1980s, Braun did some graphic work for Schell’s Brewery. Some of these ads are now considered vintage.

The gallery exhibit official opens 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, and is by reservation. Those interested in attending Friday can make reservations at (507) 359-9222.

Braun is typically drawn to drawing human faces, but said he will occasionally stretch his talent by drawing animals.

The Grand will also host a public music performance from Braun and his grandson Kaleb on the back deck, Friday. The two have played at the Grand before under the name “Old Guy and the Kid”. Braun said their music appeals to a wide range of people and includes many covers from the 1960s. His grandson Kaleb is 21-years-old and does bring modern influences into the performance.

The “Through the Years” exhibit will be open to the public during regular hours from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Friday.

Braun created several new works specifically for the gallery show at The Grand. He made sure to include an illustration of Wanda Gag as she is the most famous illustrator to come from New Ulm.

Braun is gifted at sketching faces. He typically creates his work from a photo, but uses the pencil to fully flesh out the portrait.

Braun worked as a commercial artist. In the 1980s he produced some artwork for Schell’s Brewery that was used for labeling and advertisements.

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