The Long Beach Museum of Art Is Showcasing Brent Estabrook’s New Exhibition

LONG BEACH, CA – The playful and acclaimed artist, Brent Estabrook’s “Creature Comforts” exhibition is now showcased at the Long Beach Museum of Art, starting October 23 and going through February 12. An opening reception took place on October 22 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to celebrate Estabrook’s, 37, new exhibition, along with Tony Marsh’s “Brilliant Earth” ceramic sculpture collection.

“Creature Comforts” is Estabrook’s first museum show and highlights typical elements of his notable works such as child-like imagery as seen in paintings of piles of bright and multi-colored stuffed animals, along with new pieces. While he has a knack for producing clear images in his paintings, most of the time spent constructing his works involves finding the perfect colors.

“I tell people I spend 80% of the time mixing color and 20% of the time painting,” said Estabrook. “I’m a huge colorphile, if you will, so I love oil paint because there are so many beautiful colors.”

The exhibition also includes three sculptures. They are formed with oil clay, turned into molds and then transformed into bronze. Two depict his “Smile” teddy bear at four and a half feet and one foot. The other sculpture is titled “Unican,” a shiny unicorn with texture galore, another aspect Estabrook’s work is known for. 

Estabrook recalls being an “artsy kid” growing up and later he received his BFA, but decided to attend dental school. His artistic urge still carried on through his studies in dental school. When he graduated he had a decision to make–art or dentistry? The choice he made is quite clear.

He has what he calls a “sentimental story” 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 to the Long Beach Museum of Art. They decided to show his piece in a charity auction and it sold for way more money than he imagined any of his paintings could be sold for. This moment showed him he could have an artistic career which began in Long Beach and is back in the form of “Creature Comforts.”

He loves experimenting with different styles and still has a lot of skull paintings he was inspired to paint while in dental school. He noted that dental school makes students experts on the anatomy of the head and neck, so they send students home with a skull. It became his muse. 

Since then, his style has evolved, seen in his more recent works he calls “quilts.” 

For Estabrook, his artistic and personal progress are one in the same.

“Unlocking the feeling of love for me has made me just appreciate and be thankful and love everything I do more and more,” he said. 

Estabrook has adopted the new feeling of loving everything he does, something he infused his new exhibition with. His growth has been aided by his fiancée Tara, whom he refers to as his “secret weapon.” 

“I knew I was onto something when I could get a 3-year-old and a 90-year-old to pay attention, like to actually stop and look at my work,” he said. “When I saw that I knew I got the kind of child spirit in it and I could see it bring back the child spirit in a lot of adults that looked at it… They weren’t worried about all the emails they gotta check and all this and that and the stresses in life. You could tell they were in the moment and a lot of them will say that it reminded them of childhood, you know, some people just say it makes them happy.”

Estabrook is radiating positivity. He admires impressionist artists like Monet and Van Gogh because of the beauty and the active element of their work. Estabrook notes that Monet’s paintings didn’t contain any political message, but instead, just a pleasant view. 

“I hope my work is easy to understand,” said Estabrook. “I don’t want people to get confused or I want them to enjoy it how they want to enjoy it and if they want to enjoy it simply for the aesthetic beauty of it, fine by me.”

He hopes his bright and youthful work will ignite positivity in those who interact with his art and inspire people to begin creating themselves, especially children. Estabrook thinks that the psyches of kids are special because they haven’t been influenced by society. He resonates with the Picasso quote that states, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Above everything else, Estabrook just wants others to follow their dreams and listen to their passions like he has.

“It’s rare for me that I’m like really excited in a museum,” he said. “There’s great artwork out there, but there’s still a lot of, for lack of a better term, this, I feel like there’s a lot of boring art out there. And I want to create a show that when somebody goes that they go home and they go to their friend and they go, ‘Hey, you have to go check this out. Like, you gotta go see it in person.’ I hope families that go, go tell other family friends, like, ‘Hey, go there and make sure you take the kids.’ Cause I know kids are gonna love it. Kids are gonna go nuts in there, which I really like. I think of my niece and nephew… They’ve seen my work, but they’ve never been in my art studio down here and they’re gonna see it for the first time in the museum. Their heads are gonna explode. I can’t wait.”

Estabrook is excited for his “Creature Comforts” exhibition to be featured at the Long Beach Museum of Art. He is especially excited to have a space to truly showcase his large works and make it a real experience.

“Come in and be present and enjoy it,” he said. “I like that people take pictures of it, but I would suggest leaving your phone in the car.”

By Laila Freeman