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Native son hard-wired to perform photorealistic art

Photo by Clay Schuldt Artist Bradley Donner stands next to one his larger paintings in his gallery exhibit at The Grand.

NEW ULM — A new art exhibit is coming to The Grand featuring the works of Bradley Donner.

The opening reception for the exhibit is 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19.

The New Ulm native grew up in the Minnesota River Valley, so his artwork reflects nature from the region.

“I’ve always had a love and appreciation for the natural world around me,” Donner said.

Donner said he has been creating art since he was old enough to hold a pencil but did not become serious about it until 2009. He now produces multiple paintings in a year.

His art started out as a combination of photography and painting. Now he is strictly a painter, although much of his work takes on a photorealistic design.

All of his paintings are based on photographs, some taken by Donner himself. He strives to have accuracy in his work. Several of the paintings look like photos at first glance.

“I am trying to get away from photorealism and try to get more abstract, but I can’t do it,” Donner said. “It must be something about how my brain is wired.”

He said his most abstract work is a painting of bison. Due to the size of the canvas, he was forced to use larger brushes giving a larger-than-life perspective.

Most of Donner’s paintings are wildlife drawings, but others depicted Native Americans. Donner said he received a grant from Prairie Lakes to complete the works. These paintings are based on archival images of Native Americans, some older black-and-white photographs Donner painted in color.

One of the paintings was based on a stock photo of an older brother teaching the younger brother. After he completed the painting, a woman in South Dakota recognized the two men as her brothers. Donner allows this woman to name the painting. She chose “A Brother’s Wisdom.”

This is Donner’s first full gallery exhibit at the Grand. One of his works previously hung in the gallery at a juried art show, but this is the first full exhibit in his hometown.

Donner’s Exhibit will be on display from Aug. 19 through Sept. 16.

The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Photo by Clay Schuldt "Comanche Fire" was inspired by Donner’s visit to Texas and learning of the Comanche people.

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