The artist and pilot celebrates the opening of his gallery on August 25 in Malibu
By Emmanuel Luissi
Special for the Malibu Times
Malibu will host a new gallery. Filmmaker, photographer and pilot Dirk Braun presents a combination of aviation, travel photography, original neon art and a collection of unique antiques from around the world.
Friends and fans joined the artist in celebrating the opening of his gallery on August 25. Guests were invited to visit the gallery and enjoy a wide selection of food and drink.
Braun said he wanted his gallery to be an extension of himself and his art and said Malibu was the perfect place for that.
“I’m so happy to be in Malibu, it’s wonderful,” Braun said. “Malibu is a place that embodies my interests in surfing, flying and film and I love this space on Malibu Road. I’m so excited to have all kinds of people come in and check out this work.
The gallery builds on Braun’s artistic endeavors following the world premiere of Braun’s debut film, “Flying Boat,” in 2021. The 77-minute documentary premiered at the EAA AirVenture Fly-In and Convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the largest aviation festival in the world.
The documentary focuses on an aircraft called the Grumman Albatross, an amphibious seaplane first manufactured in the late 1940s, and the pilots and mechanics who restored, piloted and maintained the remaining “flying boats”.
Braun said the plane has been an inspiration to him since a friend introduced him to college.
“It’s the most versatile aircraft ever,” Braun said. “It speaks of fantasy and adventure like no other aircraft. It’s a beautiful relic of a long-lost era that inspired me a lot.
He said that interest led him to begin researching the plane as well as start meeting people from the tight-knit community that restored and serviced those few remaining planes.
He began filming his film in 2016, a project that would take five years. During this time, Braun shot the film, took pictures and became a pilot.
The gallery houses a collection of Braun’s landscape and cityscape photographs, taken both on land and in the air, which were taken during the production of “Flying Boat”. The collection of antiques and art that complement Braun’s work has been collected and curated by Braun to reflect his travels and interests around the world.
Braun was joined by collaborators who helped bring his work to Malibu to share with the public.
Adam Devkota, a consultant for BowHaus Inc., the art production company that helped bring Braun’s work to the gallery, said Braun’s work is amazing.
“His [Braun’s work] really convincing. I think it’s unusual,” Devkota said. “It’s different from anything shown here like Santa Monica, Palisades. I don’t know anyone who has done such work, especially in terms of scale or quality.
He said Braun’s work represents an aesthetic of the ocean and travel, and that water is important to him. He said Braun was building a niche for himself that was a perfect fit for Malibu.
“It’s a gem of a place,” Devkota said. “This is one of the last places with parking in a beautiful hidden location in Malibu. Easy to get to, low stress, and brings a relaxed artsy vibe to Malibu.”
Melissa Wisenbaker, gallery owner and publicist for the Dirk Braun Gallery, said her work was inspiring. She said the gallery had a relaxed and inviting atmosphere and knew Braun would be happy to meet members of the community and share his art and experiences with them.
“I think the gallery is amazing; I think that’s exactly what Malibu needs,” she said. “I think it will bring a youthful and fun energy. Everything about aviation, adventure and travel. I think a lot of people will be able to relate to that and it will excite them.
Among the guests at Braun’s opening night was Thomas Wesley Pentz, also known as American DJ Diplo, a friend of Braun’s and a fan of his work.
He said Braun’s work should be seen and appreciated by Malibu residents.
“I’m a big fan of what Dirk does. We surf together, he’s a cool and great guy. I love what he does,” Pentz said. “Discover the gallery man; it’s actually the coolest thing about it, you know. It’s cool to have a gallery here that shows a local artist.
Braun also announced that the gallery will serve as a sales office for the G111T, the latest iteration of the Albatros. The gallery will partner with Australian company Amphibian Aerospace Industries, which brings the Albatros back to life with turbine engines and modern technology.
According to the company’s website, the base model G111T will feature new Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67F engines offering significantly improved performance, fuel economy and reliability. The website also states that the G111T will have different variants of the aircraft to serve different purposes. Variants include a Combi Passenger/Combo, Aeromedevac, Aeromedical and Search and Rescue.
The modern aircraft will be manufactured in Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, Australia.
AAI President Khoa Hoang said the aircraft is of great practical benefit to mankind.
“We look forward to delivering the first G111T-Albatros – manufactured in the Northern Territory,” Hoang said.
Braun is thrilled to be part of the Albatros’ future.
“This is big news in the aviation world, and this is the sales office for this aircraft,” Braun said.
To see Braun’s work, visit dirkbraungallery.com.