Unmerited Mercy

“Grace, my friends, demands nothing from us but that we shall await it with confidence and acknowledge it in gratitude.”

(General Loewenhielm / Isak Dinesen, Babette’s Feast)

When my 6-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, I felt such darkness. When my step-father unexpectedly died in 2003, I was devastated. When my family fell apart, I was shattered. Without art’s delivery of grace at these moments, I doubt I could have survived it all.

As part of the launch of Bruun Studios’ digital platform on June 24, we are introducing a new program of online exhibitions, starting with Grace.

In the coming days, we will send out a proper announcement for the exhibition, but want to share a bit now.

Grace is the first of what we expect to be an ongoing program of online exhibitions, each featuring works from others along with art by me. Grace, for example, features a written introduction from art historian and art critic Kathy O’Dell, and works by six participants (Daniel Anastasiocirce dunnellHermine FordPhylicia GheeAlonzo LaMont, and Alexy Santos).

All the art offers stories of grace.

I encourage you to visit Grace once it opens—or better yet, join us on June 24 when we unveil our new Bruun Studios digital platform, sharing in a moment of grace together.


John Schratwieser

This month’s Cameo introduces John Schratwieser, co-host along with Zoë Charlton for the June 24 launch of Bruun Studios’ new digital platform.

John Schratwieser is no ordinary arts administrator.

After 30 years in the business, he has become an expert at amplifying the social and economic impact of the arts wherever he lands. Whether it’s to build increased funding for the arts, imbue artists and creators with a sense of belonging, or create new spaces to serve as community hubs, John’s vision and charisma bring others along with him: he gets it done.

While serving as the Executive Director for Maryland Citizens for the Arts, John led a public arts funding advocacy effort resulting in a doubling of state funding for the arts to $24 million by the time he left in FY 2018.

After seven years of a grueling statewide focus, John was ready for something else, and his adopted home of Chestertown in Kent County (Maryland’s smallest and most rural county) beckoned.

When longtime director Leslie Prince Raimond announced her retirement from the Kent County Arts Council (now Kent Cultural Alliance), John applied for the job, beginning his tenure in July 2017.

He got right to work.

“I had big shoes to fill,” he says. “Building on Leslie’s legacy and with the support of the board, we immediately moved to purchase the historic Mansfield/Eliasson House in downtown Chestertown.”

Spurred on by John’s ambitious vision, the group aimed to raise $2.2 million to revamp the historic building into a cultural center, with a focus on a brand-new visiting artist residency program. With $1.4 million secured and the outside of the building complete, the team is working on raising the final funding to complete the interior so the center can open to the public in July 2022.

In a small town, raising that kind of money is no small thing, yet John and the Kent Cultural Alliance are almost there. His organizational skills, passion, and strong leadership have all made it possible.

John has always been able to see a community’s potential, and to inspire community buy-in so that those around him can see it too.

“Kent County is an inspired and inspiring place for artists to both live and create. This rural landscape on North America’s largest estuary (the Chesapeake Bay) provides a constant muse for artists of all disciplines,” he says.

And thanks to John’s extraordinary energy and vision, that landscape will soon be even better.

Grace Delivered

Dad, Peter Bruun, 1996, 30″x30″, oil on linen

Dad is one of five works by me included in Grace, the inaugural online exhibition for my new digital platform to go live on June 24.

Here is how its story begins:

“She was six years old and something was very wrong.

“On a family ski trip in the winter of 1995, Peter’s daughter Lis was constantly thirsty and had to pee all the time. A worried call to the family pediatrician and immediate urine test delivered a dreaded diagnosis: Lis had developed Type I diabetes, a lifelong and potentially fatal disease.”

I share what happens next—a story of family crisis; of art and grace—in the exhibition.

My art has always been grounded by my personal life; I can imagine it no other way. Art-making for me has been a kind of survival, a way to wrest meaning and hope from even the most despairing circumstances.

Being an artist is an article of faith, with painting an act of faith—art as a prayer asked and answered all at once.

Dad exemplifies that.


June 2021

Coming Soon:
Little Patuxent Review

The summer issue of Little Patuxent Review—a journal of literature and the arts—features an interview with and art by Peter. You can register to attend the free online kick-off event on Wednesday, June 16, at 7:30 PM by going here.

Thanks to Nancy Patz

Even online exhibitions cost money. Happily, we have the Nancy Patz Reading Fund to thank for sponsorship of GraceNancy (so full of grace herself) is a longtime supporter of Bruun Studios, and we are ever so grateful to her.