Preservation work comes in all shapes and sizes, Nashville artist Brandie Lee will tell you.
Supporters of Historic Macon Foundation who attended the recent Wine & Dine Lawn Party got to see one example of Lee’s artistry, and it involved a nearly 50-year-old “proofing press” that she used to make ink prints of classic cocktails. (Take a look at the accompanying photographs to get a better idea of her letterpress creations.)
Lee graduated from Macon’s Central High School and studied public service at what was then Macon State College before a series of moves that included a stint in Thailand teaching English. Now she lives in Music City, where her art work is drawing attention.
Nashville “seemed like a place that I could root down and do the art I wanted to do,” the 34-year-old said.
Lee grew up “sketching and painting some.” In time, her interests turned more and more to “the tactile experience of art.” In Nashville, she found Hatch Show Print, an iconic letterpress print and design shop whose motto is preservation through production.
“I’d heard about Hatch and I was fascinated by it,” she said.
In time she applied for a coveted six-week internship — and got one.
“Everything there is hand-touched,” she said. “It feels like true art to me. That’s where my interest in letterpress came from. That’s exactly where my interests were.”
For the cocktail glass creations, she drew a design on paper, then used that design to carve the actual raised image — backward — out of linoleum. She rolls oil-based ink onto the image with a brayer, or hand roller, locks down a piece of paper, then rolls the weighted press over the raised image to create the print.
There are three different drink prints — for a mint julep, an Old-Fashioned, and a French 75 -- that list all the drink’s ingredients within the outline of each particular drinking glass.
“It’s a very hands-on process,” she said. “I like getting to show people the letterpress (process). It takes you back to the roots. I really enjoy getting to work on things — the physicality of it. It’s the opposite of mass production.”
How did the idea come to her?
“Cocktails are a very social part of Nashville,” she said. “Cocktails are hand-crafted too,” just like her letterpress work. “You go to a bar and say, “I like this drink. I’d really like to remember how to make it. It’s a way to convey the essence of a drink and how to make it. It’s the idea of form and function,” she said. “When things go together well, I like it.”
She’s also turned her attention to watercolor work, including what she calls the Laugh-A-bit animal alphabet gallery. She gets back to Macon a couple times a year, where her parents, Curtis and Laura Lee, still live. For now, she’ll continue to explore ways to create works that are “visual and artistic, but also informative,” she said.
“I just like to bring truth and beauty and joy into the world — and levity too,” she said. “Authenticity and truth are so important to me.”
HMF is proud to support preservation in the many forms it can take. Lee’s cocktail creations and her unique approach to preservation through art were a feature of our Wine & Dine Lawn Party last month. Each guest was provided with a cocktail print, which are currently available to purchase at Travis Jean Emporium in Downtown Macon. This is just one more way we go beyond saving buildings to promote preservation in our everyday lives.
If you’d like to see other examples of Lee’s work or purchase any of her creations, go to:
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