In June, ACT Gallery will feature a “Smorgasbord of Art” by Brian Christensen, abstracts by Sally Clarke and a group exhibit by ACT Member Artists.
Born in Chicago, Brian Christensen was raised in the farmlands of northern Illinois. He had his first exposure to art at age four when his older cousin showed him how to highlight with a white crayon in his Huckleberry Hound coloring book. But Brian’s art career was nearly derailed when doctors discovered that Brian’s eyesight was deteriorating rapidly and prognosticated that he would likely be blind by his twenties.
Brian plodded along with thick glasses for the next decade without hope or ambition. Not much was known in the medical community of his rare and peculiar eye maladies. By age eighteen, there were no glasses that would allow Brian to see clearly. Diagnosed with Keratoconus, a thickening of the cornea due to the buildup of scar tissue, his vision without glasses was 20/1400 and 20/2100.
He was fitted and refitted repeatedly with ill-fitting gas permeable contact lenses, enduring unimaginable pain at the slightest speck of dust and extreme photosensitivity. Brian’s eyesight moved to another little known chart with readings of -8 rt. and -12 lt. Now a Fort Myers resident, he underwent a cornea transplant in his left eye in 1991. The procedure prevented his cornea from rupturing and destroying his eyeball but did not improve his vision.
In 2012, Brian was in such excruciating pain in his right eye that he could only wear his lenses for short durations a couple of times a week. The short times he could wear lenses he would paint. In the midst of executing his My Cheeky Muse painting, he was faced with what he called “having a going blind sale. Then his eye doctor fitted him with a SCLERAL lens (Google it) and ever since he sees great and has not experienced an iota of pain.
While he does appreciate the works of iconic artists such as Pollack, Dali, Picasso and various album cover artists of his youth, he credits his lifelong struggle to see without pain as his greatest artistic influence. Brian’s style is bold, colorful, thick and imaginative. He loves to experiment with materials, tools, and dealing with time constraints. He attempts works that provoke emotion, thought or even a chuckle.
Although Brian is largely self-taught, local sculptor Don Wilkins and renowned pastel portrait artist Greg Biolchini took Brian under their wing shortly after he moved to Fort Myers in 1988. Since being laid off from his job as a civil engineer, Brian’s career as a professional artist has flourished. He earned a first place ribbon soon after joining the art scene. He also joined the Alliance of the Arts. During the past three years, Brian has earned numerous awards of varying degrees at local art exhibitions including a second place at BIG ARTS for his first attempt at sculpture, in which he works with found objects as his eyes cannot cope with welding or any type of dust.
Brian’s future endeavors include continuing with his “Red Guitar” series, and pursuing a new series of large works that depict the juxtaposition of odd objects in outer space, a pallet knife bamboo series, building more “found objects” sculptures and plein air speed painting.
Brian signs his works with his middle name, Bent. Brian’s work is owned and enjoyed by many local patrons and travelers from many states, Canada and various European nations.
ACT Gallery will host a workshop on the use of the pallet knife in June. Sign up at the gallery.
Arts for ACT Gallery & Boutique is located at 2265 First Street, in the century-old Arcade Building in which Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and their families and friends once watched early motion pictures. For more information, please telephone 239-337-5050 or visit www.artsforactgallery.com.