Sculpture

Mosaic Murals

Artist's Biography

In Memoriam

Born: Philadelphia, PA 1949–Passed On: January 25, 2019

Joe lived and worked in his studio in Olde Kensington and his life was defined by his lifelong journey as an artist. This journey included using many different mediums: drawing, clay, wood, mosaics, and collage. It enabled him to explore personal, spiritual, and social themes that he felt privileged to express through art. His art lives in many diverse locations around the world, such as a church in El Salvador, a Buddhist retreat in Vietnam, churches, synagogues, Al-Aqsa Islamic Society, community centers, and the Septa Church Street El Stop, to highlight a few. He has been honored to be awarded recognition for his work over the past four decades, including: The Miki Young ArtWell Leader Award (2018), the Vocational Service Leadership Award from the Rotary Club of Philadelphia (2010), a Huntington Arts Council grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (2009), a Works on Paper award from Arcadia University, the Adolph Dioda Memorial Award for Sculpture from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (1995), and many others. Joe believed that art beautifies everything we experience, and art had that same effect on his entire life.

Through his teaching with ArtWell, Perkins Center for the Arts, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Rutgers University, Camden County College and The Clay Studio Joe has worked with students of all ages helping them to realize their own inner artist, inspiring them to open their hearts to joy. Joe also used his art to call attention to social injustice. He created a series of sculptures of Central American refugees who were being given safe haven through the Philadelphia Sanctuary Movement in the 1980s. Joe invited refugees to his studio, listened to their stories and created sculptures of these men and women filled with emotion and the poignancy of their struggles and strength. One of those sculptures is currently installed in Haddonfield NJ.

Most recently Joe completed a mosaic portrait of Dwayne Erik Greene a victim of gun violence as part of Souls Shot, a Philadelphia organization that links fine artists with families of victims of gun violence in order to bring attention to and memorialize the lives lost and the families that are permanently altered due to gun violence.

Joe was pure light. An honest, intelligent, gentle, loving, joyous, curious, caring magnificent human being. People always remarked about the warmth of Joe’s smile and that’s because that beautiful smile conveyed the essence of his soul. People were drawn to his kindness, compassion, and great sense of humor, and he lives on in the hearts of so many because he was just a stand up guy. In addition to being a fantastic artist, loving husband, father and friend, Joe was a lifelong Phillies fan and during baseball season you could always find Joe working in his studio with his Phillies hat on and the game playing over the radio.

Joe is survived by his wife Caren Lee Brenman, son Leo Brenman and a loving community of friends.

Artist's Statement

There is a language in sculpture created by hands, heart and head. I look for the poetry in sculptural forms. My work is done in series, which allows for endless variations. In addition to being a sculptor, I create mosaic murals for public and private spaces. Murals are an extension of my desire to have art become a transformative force outside the realm of galleries and museums.

Selected Exhibitions

Solo

2008
Jacob’s Story, Camden County Community College, Blackwood, NJ

Group

2010
Inaugural Exhibition, PAFA Alumni Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Windows and Mirrors, American Friends Service Committee
Traveling Exhibition

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?, Annenberg Center, Wynnewood, PA

2009
Urban Organic, Projects Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Perkins Art Center, Collingswood, NJ

PAFA Fellowship, Artists House Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2008
Yesterday and Today, Sande Webster Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Transcendence, Mural Arts & The Nathan Cummings Foundation, New York, NY

Light and Space, Cira Center, Philadelphia, PA

2007
Mastery In Clay, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA

2006
Social Conscious, Cheltenham Arts Center, Cheltenham, PA

Selected Grants

2009
The Paper Trail, Ceramic, Mosaic Mural, National Endowment For The Arts Grant, Huntingdon, PA

2003
Huntingdon Past & Present Mural, Mid Atlantic Grant, Huntingdon, PA

1998
Nature’s Garden, Mosaic Mural, Mid-Atlantic Grant, Camden Post Office, Camden, NJ

Selected Commissions

2009
New Life, Marble Sculpture, Phu Tho Province, Vietnam

2007
Church Stop Reflection, SEPTA Art In Transit, Philadelphia, PA

Selected Public Art Projects

2010
The Seasons, Mosaic, Germantown Jewish Center, Philadelphia, PA

2009
The Gold Birds, Mosaic and Paint Mural, Alexander Wilson School, Philadelphia, PA

Pathways, Mosaic Mural, Brookfield Academy, Cherry Hill, NJ

The Four Seasons, Mosaic Mural, Taunton Forge School, Medford, NJ

Wishing Tree, Collage Mural, St. Anthony Of Padua, Camden, NJ

2008
World Textures, Paint and Mosaic Mural, Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia, PA

2007
Ethiopian Garden, Paint and Mosaic Mural, Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia, PA

2006
Mosaic and Clay Murals, Bar Ferdinand, Philadelphia, PA

2005
MasterPeace, Sculpture Relief and Mosaic Mural, Einstein Hospital, Philadelphia, PA

2004
Doorways To Peace, Multimedia Mural, Al Aqsa Mosque, Philadelphia, PA

2003
Family Gathering, Sculpture, 35th & Wallace, Philadelphia, PA

2002
Behold How Beautiful, Sculpture Relief, Mishkan Shalom, Philadelphia, PA

The Stations of the Cross, Sculpture Relief, Las Anonas Church, El Salvador

2001
Paz Para Vieques, Mosaic Mural, Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia, PA

Education

1972 - 1978
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA