The Long Beach Museum of Art presents the new exhibition of Brent Estabrook
LONG BEACH, Calif. — Playful and acclaimed artist Brent Estabrook’s “Creature Comforts” exhibit is now on view at the Long Beach Museum of Art, October 23 through February 12. An opening reception was held October 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. to celebrate the new exhibit by Estabrook, 37, as well as Tony Marsh’s ‘Brilliant Earth’ collection of ceramic sculptures.
“Creature Comforts” is Estabrook’s first museum exhibition and highlights elements typical of his notable works such as childlike imagery as seen in the paintings of stacks of brightly colored and multicolored stuffed animals, as well only new parts. Although he has a knack for producing clear images in his paintings, most of the time spent building his works is about finding the perfect colors.
“I tell people that I spend 80% of the time mixing colors and 20% of the time painting,” Estabrook said. “I’m a huge colorophile, if you will, so I love oil painting because there are so many beautiful colors.”
The exhibition also includes three sculptures. They are formed with oil clay, made into molds and then turned into bronze. Two represent his teddy bear “Smile” at four and a half feet and one foot. The other sculpture is titled “Unican”, a shiny unicorn with texture galore, another look Estabrook’s work is known for.
Estabrook remembers being an “artistic kid” growing up and later got his BFA, but decided to attend dental school. His artistic desire continued throughout his studies in dental school. When he graduated, he had a decision to make – art or dentistry? The choice he made is pretty clear.
He has what he calls a “sentimental history” with the Long Beach Museum of Art. In 2012, the museum gave him a chance. Estabrook recalls creating his first gallery-worthy piece which was shown at the Long Beach Museum of Art. They decided to show his piece in a charity auction and it sold for far more money than he imagined any of his paintings could sell for. This moment showed him that he could have an artistic career that started in Long Beach and is back in the form of “Creature Comforts”.
He loves experimenting with different styles and still has many paintings of skulls that he was inspired to paint during his dental studies. He noted that dental school makes students experts in head and neck anatomy, so they send students home with a skull. It became his muse.
Since then, his style has evolved, as evidenced by his more recent works which he calls “quilts”.
For Estabrook, his artistic and personal journey are one.
“Unlocking the feeling of love for me has made me appreciate and be grateful and love everything I do more and more,” he said.
Estabrook embraced the new feeling of loving everything he does, something he imbued with his new exposure. His growth has been aided by his fiancée Tara, whom he calls his “secret weapon”.
“I knew I was onto something when I could get the attention of a 3-year-old and a 90-year-old man, like stop and look at my work,” he said. “When I saw this, I knew I had the kind of childlike spirit and I could see it bringing back the childlike spirit in a lot of the adults who watched it. They weren’t worried about all the emails they had to check and all this and that and the stresses of life You could tell they were in the moment and many of them will say that it reminded them of childhood, you know, some people just say it makes them happy.
Estabrook radiates positivity. He admires impressionist artists like Monet and Van Gogh because of the beauty and active element of their work. Estabrook notes that Monet’s paintings contained no political message, but rather a pleasing view.
“I hope my work is easy to understand,” Estabrook said. “I don’t want people to be confused or I want them to enjoy it the way they want to enjoy it and if they want to enjoy it just for its aesthetic beauty, that’s fine with me.”
He hopes his bright, youthful work will spark positivity in those who interact with his art and inspire people to start creating themselves, especially children. Estabrook thinks the psyche of children is special because it has not been influenced by society. It resonates with Picasso’s quote that says, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Above all else, Estabrook just wants others to follow their dreams and listen to their passions like him.
“It’s rare for me to get really excited in a museum,” he said. “There’s great art out there, but there’s still a lot of it, for lack of a better term, that, I feel like there’s a lot of boring art out there And I want to create a show where when someone comes home and they go to their friend’s house and they say, ‘Hey, you gotta go see this.’ Like, you gotta go see it in person. I hope families who go there will say to other family friends, like, ‘Hey, go ahead and make sure you bring the kids.’ Because I know the kids are going to love it. The kids are going to go crazy in this, which I really love. I’m thinking of my niece and my nephew… They’ve seen my work, but they’ve never been in my art studio here and they’re going to see it for the first time at the museum. Their heads are going to explode. I can’t wait.
Estabrook is thrilled to have his “Creature Comforts” exhibit featured at the Long Beach Museum of Art. He is especially thrilled to have a space to really showcase his great works and make it a real experience.
“Come in and be present and enjoy it,” he said. “I like people taking pictures, but I would suggest leaving your phone in the car.”
By Laila Freeman