Jennifer Brouse

“It is hard to explain – everything you cannot explain,
because if you could, you wouldn’t have to play it”
Joe Zawinul, 1932 – 2007

Jennifer BrouseI see and feel “jazz” as an invitation to describe the process of creative exploration and improvisation common to both visual art and music. I paint portraits because I am fascinated by the meeting of resemblance with mystery, and I paint musicians because I feel music.

At live performances, I experience difficulty concentrating on the complexity of sounds competing for my attention with the stunning visuals of instruments in the hands of skilled musicians. Music is painting with notes. The journey taken while listening to music is very much like the process of applying paint. At every turn, there are many possibilities. For me, painting and music inhabit the spaces between conscious intent and the unknown/accidental.

When Wayne Shorter visited Vancouver, he described the characteristic of elegance; the striving of an artist to create and perform in the context of life’s difficulties. That is what my paintings attempt to capture. They are images of musicians absorbed, working hard as artists, sometimes under the most arduous circumstances. Billie Holiday was an extraordinary musician, but she was relegated to using the service elevator and prevented from entering the clubs she sang in through the same door as her white band.

Miles spoke about trying to capture that dark mysterious backroads blues that hung in the summernight air…sounds from the sorrows of slavery. That is why Miles’ trumpet is so wrenching and forlorn. To Billie, to Miles, and all the other dignitaries of music, I give my humble thanks.


Born in Ottawa in 1970, Jennifer graduated in 1989 from an intensive visual arts program at Canterbury Arts Secondary. She studied studio art at Concordia University in Montreal for two years before moving to BC in 1991. She was awarded the prestigious Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grant for emerging figurative artists in 1995. Jennifer graduated with her BFA in Fine Arts, with a major in printmaking, from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2001.

Jennifer’s work can be viewed at Ouisi Bistro, Vancouver’s original New Orleans restaurant on South Granville Street. Her work is held in numerous private collections locally, nationally and internationally.


Joe Zawinul
Ouisi Bistro