FLYER Q&A: Art in broad daylight: New exhibit features work of Brian Abel

Brian Abel

Brian Abel has been a force of nature in Fayetteville for as long as I can remember. When I moved here long ago, I heard about his many bands and one-off sound projects before I met him in person.

As an artist, musician and person – he casts a long shadow on Fayetteville’s DIY culture. Not only a staple in past underground communities, Brian is currently making things happen in broad daylight.

He has a showing of his vivid and wonderful paintings all month in Sequoyah Hall at Mount Sequoyah Center. An artist’s reception for Brian is scheduled from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 16, and it’s highly recommended!

The show was curated by Dea Self as part of her work with AMMPlify, a local group that connects emerging artists, talent managers, and performers with mentors in related fields.

You can also catch Brian’s new band Pyrocratic all over Arkansas in the coming months.

I talked with Brian about his paintings and some other things.

Paintings by Brian Abel:

What: Artist’s reception
When: 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16
Where: Sequoyah Hall at Mount Sequoyah Center
Link: Facebook event
More: Paintings on display through February 2024 from 2-5 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays

How would you describe your paintings to a stranger?

Dense colorful ecosystems that are alien, yet somewhat familiar.

Is there a specific image or painting that caused you to want to paint?

Not a single image, but more of a build up of distinct styles over time. As a child in the 70’s, I was exposed to the psychedelic ad work of Peter Max, and a children’s book with trippy illustrations by Reynold Ruffins.

During the 80’s, skateboard graphics were very exciting to me due to the bold colors they used. Now I’m most excited about current artists such as Lucas Beaufort and Matthew Palladino.

What’s the story behind the colorful and tubular world in your paintings?

It’s a natural world of only the most garish species.

Who inspires you to create?

I get inspired by most anyone doing something they love.

What films, music or books have influenced your recent work?

I think you could draw a pretty straight line from the landscapes from the French/Czech film “Fantastic Planet” to my current work. Bardo Pond, Dungen and the Bevis Frond for sonic inspiration.

You have a show this month at Sequoyah Hall in Mount Sequoyah Center. How did that come together? How do you determine what makes the show and what doesn’t?

Dea Self! Dea is one of my favorite local artists. She curated a successful show at The Arsaga’s Depot (R.I.P.) of my work in 2018. Since then she has become a champion for local artists, so when the opportunity came up to show at Mount Sequoyah it was a no brainer.

Courtesy/Brian Abel

What’s your advice to someone who wants to become a painter?

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get started. Try several different mediums to find out what you enjoy the most. Don’t be afraid to make a mess. You have to actually DO the thing though. Put pen to paper or stylus to tablet or brush to canvas…but do it.

Besides your paintings, you’re also a longtime staple in the Fayetteville music scene. What are you working on musically? Any shows coming up?

I’m currently singing and playing guitar in Pyrocratic, alongside Evan Garner and Nigel York. We’re at Whitewater Tavern in Little Rock on Feb. 24. You can check out our Fayettetunes performance on the FPTV Channel on YouTube.

Where are your favorite places in Fayetteville?

Dickson Street Bookshop and Little Bread Co. And any place with more trees than people.

What are your plans for 2024?

Continue making art, keep writing and performing songs. Can’t stop, Won’t stop.

Courtesy/Brian Abel