At first glance at the cover art this week, you may notice right off that the portraits of legendary country musician Willie Nelson doesn't have the typical images you might regularly see: weed, guitars, American flag bandanas. Instead, this portrait—created by Bend artist Brandon Walsh—tells a little different story, one more personal and inspired by his life.
Walsh was born and raised in Idaho, with his father inspiring his love for the beloved country icon. The other inspiration for the painting: his wife Yoonmee who hails from Seoul, South Korea. When Walsh and his wife married, the theme of their wedding was, fittingly, "East meets West" and that inspiration has continued in Walsh's work, combing both his love for his Americana roots and his love of his wife and her roots in Seoul.
His process is unique: completely covering his canvas decoupage style with old Time and Life magazine images and vintage rodeo programs, as well as various handmade Korean papers, including old propaganda posters his mother-in-law will collect and send him from Seoul. Once the background is complete, Walsh paints his subject on top, never knowing what images from he background will show up when the painting is completed. "Its like a happy accident," Walsh says of the process.
It is not surprising to see Walsh inspired by iconic images. Before he and his wife opened their EMW Fusion food truck here in Bend, both he and Yoonmee worked as graphic designers, with Walsh spending the bulk of his career at Nike creating graphic design pieces for apparel. When visiting their popular food truck at On Tap, you will notice this love for iconography in their approach. You will also notice that this labor of love saturates into all they do whether it is food, apparel or art—the transparent expression of love creates a new balance of harmony that one can truly find themselves understanding.
Currently, Walsh is working on the final image in his series of Highwaymen portraits. Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie are already complete, and Kris Kristofferson in the works. You can find the prints for sale on his website emwfusion.com.