Brooks Yeomans talks art

Gallery 86 show features mentally disabled artists
Nov 03, 2011
Photo by: Donated image Brooks Yeomans creates images, such as this painting of North Carolina's Emerald Isle, from his photographic memory. A reception for him, and other Signature Studio artists, will be held during this week's First Friday event at Gallery 86.

Brooks Yeomans, 54, is the kind of successful painter artists aspire to be. His colorful, multi-layered pieces come from his photographic memory and have been shown around the country and the world, and have garnered acclaim wherever they’ve traveled. Most recently, all of his pieces hanging in the current show at the Haywood County Arts Council’s Gallery 86, have already sold.

Like all the artists in the show, Yeomans also happens to be mentally disabled. He and his peers craft their work at the Signature Studio, an art space created by the Enola Group, a nonprofit based in Morganton. A reception for their unique art show will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, during first First Friday at the gallery, 86 N. Main St. in Waynesville. The show — which also features work from Harold Crowell, Sarah Britt, Jake Holmes, Laura McNellis and Beverley Ramm — will be up until Nov. 12.

With just a few days to go before the reception, Yeomans was excited to talk about his work, which has spanned nearly two decades.

When did you first realize you were an artist? “Started probably about in ‘92,1992. Somebody got me interested into it. I just got to where I really liked the texture about it and everything.”

Do you enjoy making art? “Yeah, I’m enjoying being an artist, and I’ve been doing it for a long time. And I’m never giving it up. Stick with it and don’t ever give up, Just stick with it … It gives me a lot of interest into it, and makes me feel good about myself, when I do it. I enjoy doing it. When I get done, I’m very happy that I’ve done a piece of artwork, what I’ve done.”

What do your pieces look like? "They look like a lot of people involved together. I like to do a lot of things where people are going places, (or) just sitting around the reception table. I just sketch them in and draw them in my own way and stuff like that."

What do you like painting the most? Reception shows and stuff like. Fashion shows, like festivals and stuff like that.

Why do you like painting everyday things? “'Cause I enjoy doing it and stuff like that. And sometimes I take a break from it and sometimes I don’t.”

How does it feel to know that so many people like your art? “Proud and enjoyable, and they take a lot of interest in my artwork.”

Does your art have a message? “I think it does. It’s compassion and stuff like that. It means a lot in my own way, and takes a lot of interest and passion.”

How do you feel when you’re painting? “I feel good, once I get creating into a piece of artwork, and stuff like that. It desires me to feeling a little bit better and good. I enjoy painting and when it comes around to doing it, I can express my feelings.”

How often do you paint? “Every once in a while, when I get around doing it. Sometimes I take a break, and sometimes when I break I do something else, and I do drawing or something else.”

Do you ever get nervous when you have to start on a blank page or canvas? “A little tense, a little nervous. But after a while, you get used to it, and you’re not tense, not nervous, and you go from there.”

Are you coming to Friday’s reception? “Yes, I sure will because I’m very excited, and it will be a great new experience, and I’m really thrilled about those 12 paintings I’ve sold. That lady (HCAC Executive Director Kay Miller), she’s really happy, and I’m very impressed about it too.”

What’s the most important thing in your life? “The most important thing in my life is trying to stay busy as much as I can and enjoy life and enjoy different things, like painting and doing hobbies and stuff like that.”

For more information on the Signature Studio show, www.haywoodarts.org or call 452-0593 or visit the Enola Group’s website, www.enolagroup.org. Gallery 86 is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

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