INSPIRATION IS THE driving force behind any great work and Brian Reaume is brimming with it. Growing up in rural Michigan set the stage for Brian’s love of art and his passion for bringing new life into the structures bedeviled with decay strewn about the rural countryside. It is particularly in the change of light as the day evolves from morning to midday to night that affects how the barns speak to him. This daily transformation, along with the ongoing degradation of these structures time imposes, moved him into expressing their presence in the abstract.
Brian explains, “I give these structures a continuation of their stories; they have to speak to me, but once they do, their story is continued on in my art.”
Brian started painting early in his life. His first canvases were old wooden doors and other objects one would find on any country farm. His passion is expressed through these salvaged pieces. His art is the new life he breathes into them.
It was not a part of Brian’s original plan to come to Columbus. As with many other artists, he had the dream of making it big in New York City. Before moving to the Big Apple, Brian was asked by his brother to stay with him in Columbus for a year. In turn, Brian found a new home and new sources for inspiration that kept his creativity flowing.
Brian’s first show was an unexpected opportunity. One day while Brian was at the original Union location, a buddy of his (who was a manager) got a call from an artist scheduled for a show in two weeks’ time. The artist cancelled, leaving Union without an artist for the upcoming show. Brian offered to take his place. It was a challenge, but he pulled it off; his work featured wooden doors painted in abstract art. The show was a hit and the reception of his art was a needed positive reinforcement for him to pursue art further in Columbus.
Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in August 2005. When Brian heard the extent of the damage caused by the storm he immediately went to Louisiana to try to help with the cleanup efforts.
He called all of the organizations who were there for the recovery efforts to offer his help. He was turned away by all the major organizations until a small Baptist church accepted his help in Tylertown. He stayed for two weeks and worked in the kitchen, feeding the hungry and sometimes displaced people who were there. Brian’s passion for the idea of shelter and the necessity of it was deepened by his post Katrina experiences.
Brian very purposely uses the term shelter, rather than house or home. Brian shares, “We need shelter. The idea of necessity has changed and become a status symbol. The idea of these shelters, I am kind of working off the necessity of it...The point that you start guarding your shelter is when it becomes a home. These shelters are at the end of their road. I give them a last voice, a final purpose.”
Brian’s life is full of passion and it shows in how he lives, how he expresses himself and how he loves his family. Brian has a five year-old son who he has raised with his son’s two mothers. Brian’s son is one of his main inspirations and has even been the source of some of his ideas for his art. His current exhibit, entitled collusion, is at the Cultural Arts Center until April 10th. As a part of this show he built miniature shelters. Brian’s son asked what they are for and his response was, “They hold people’s memories.” The question inspired the design of the miniature shelters to include slots for people to put their own memories into the tiny structures, allowing their purpose to be so expressed.
Brian’s inspiration is evident in his life and his work. Not only does he push the limits of art in our city, but he is an incredible addition to our community. If you have time before the 10th, be sure to check out his work at the Cultural Arts Center downtown to witness his talent first-hand.