Artist Bio

Photo of the artist on a rainy spring day

Juliana Brandon Artist Bio

The daughter of an actor and a poet, Juliana Brandon is an artist of many disciplines. Determined to become a children’s book illustrator as a child, she discovered that she could sing opera at age 14 and changed focus toward the musical arts. Nonetheless, she followed the original dream of becoming a visual artist and obtained a BA in Art History at The University of Washington in 2000. In 2002 she took music and voice lessons at Shoreline Community College, culminating in a study abroad program with Austrian American Mozart Academy in 2004.

The artist in lily costume

That same year she poured all her energy into her new operatic clown persona, growing a rabid and very faithful fan base for her surrealist opera cabaret troupe called Operadisiac. Brandon’s experiences directing Operadisiac grew into a shadow puppet opera company called Paper Puppet Opera in 2015, which during this pandemic time is a solo project where Brandon creates the puppets and sets, then manipulates them while singing at the same time. In the past Paper Puppet Opera was known for their emotionally stirring rendition of Franz Schubert’s Winterreise as well as for comedic presentations of forgotten classical operas.

As a soprano Brandon has been a frequent soloist with Seattle Bach Choir as well as making guest appearances with various projects around the Seattle area as “the human theremin,” and even a trip to Germany with the Frank Zappa tribute band Z.E.R.O. to perform at Zappanale in 2016. Brandon has been a featured vocalist on all of Z.E.R.O.’s albums to date.

 

The artist as author

Brandon is also a writer of poetry and prose. She has two self-published books: 30 Love Letters (2015)a collection of love poems; and Winter From Above (2017)a strange book of theoretical encounters with Schubert’s ghost meant to accompany the puppet rendition of Winterreise. Brandon is currently working on an expanded version of this novel which may grow into a book series.

Brandon was one of the artists chosen to paint an astronaut statue for The Museum of Flight’s Astronauts on the Town fundraiser in 2015. Her contribution was entitled Basstronaut which also led to her creating a body of drawings depicting fish in space. Around this time Brandon began experimenting with her signature technique of using pastel medium to draw on decorative papers and doilies, and after a long hiatus she started drawing again.

Birds have been one of Brandon’s favorite subjects to draw for the past few years, and it is her hope that she can use her talent to raise money for brain cancer research as well as for myriad other causes that need funding and attention in today’s world.

 

The artist dreaming

Artist Statement

Meditation, dreams, and a mystical sense of imagination have been driving forces behind Brandon’s inspiration across artistic mediums. She grew up in a household where talking about past life memories and angelic encounters were commonplace, but Brandon claims to possess a strong sense of logic and civic duty, describing herself as “practical woo.” Her mother, Sherry Brandon, was a poet and visual artist greatly influenced by all things spiritual and alchemical, and this rubbed off on her daughter. Juliana Brandon loves exploring her unconscious and the more shadowy parts of her soul, which is one reason she felt so drawn to shadow puppets. Brandon’s artistic vision is poetic across disciplines, employing metaphor in everything from serious to whimsical.

The artist waves into a broken mirror in Vienna

Key artistic influences include Kay Nielsen, Aubrey Beardsley, Joseph Cornell, Hieronymus Bosch, Erté, François Boucher, Beatrix Potter, Tibetan Buddhist paintings, medieval illuminated manuscripts and bestiaries, alchemical engravings, and much more. Brandon’s art frequently combines the mystical with Rococo elegance and a medieval sense of the absurd. Decorative papers, especially damask wallpaper and 19th century marbled book papers, are favorite backgrounds used to depict an escape from the bourgeois world through the portal of the imagination. The art of paper cutting has just recently jumped from shadow puppetry to the realm of Brandon’s two dimensional artwork. Musical synesthesia plays a key role in Brandon’s inspiration as well.

Spotlight is the driving word behind Brandon’s work and purpose. A spotlight illuminates her puppets, blinds her while singing, pinpoints areas of the mind that need work, delineates an artistic focal point for a time, highlights a forgotten artist, and of course a spotlight shines upon an artistic subject and an area of activism from month to month. Brandon hopes that her work resonates with you and provides you with your own spotlight when you need it. It is her duty to spread hope and share concrete actions for making this a better world for everyone.