I don’t remember exactly when I met Brett, but I grew up in Lafayette, and I saw him around and knew he was an artist who worked with Robert Dafford, painting murals, back in the day. His wife Rachel and I are friends, so we were by default, friendly.
About a year or so ago, hanging out at Warehouse 535, we had the most fascinating conversation about his current work in the film industry based in Baton Rouge, and the impermanence of the art he created on the fly for movie backdrops and quick sceneries and sets. I was fascinated by his ability to create something and then dismantle it within days, or in less than 24 hours. And be able to walk away from his artistic creation without any attachment to it or despair over its destruction. But now the movie folks have largely decamped the state, and Brett is back in his studio, balancing the bill-paying decorative arts projects and having fun creating art that combines his passion for painting, his love of leather work, and his curiosity to push his boundaries.
Image courtesy of Lauren Blanda
How is Lafayette/Acadiana your home base?
I moved to Lafayette in 1999, from Kansas City where I attended the Kansas City Art Institute. The short version of my story is that I grew up moving around the country because my dad worked in hotel management. I was born in New Orleans along with most of my family. My parents both attended USL, and my brother had just graduated and was living in Lafayette. I’d been at an arts-only college for two years and I longed for exposure to other disciplines. This made Lafayette familiar enough for me to transfer here to pursue a dual degree in fine arts and physics. After a couple of years I dropped the physics and graduated from ULL with a BFA—I just wanted to be done with school at that point. Immediately after I graduated I met my wife Rachel. I rarely work here, but I wanted our daughter, Violet, to have a consistent home, so we live here and I travel for work.
Image courtesy of Brett Chigoy
What/who/where/why is your Acadiana muse?
I don’t know if I have a muse that is specific to Acadiana, but as far as muses go, my family is all that I need: my wife Rachel and our daughter Violet.
How do your cultural and physical environments influence your work?
I am heavily influenced by American pop culture; not in the traditional sense of using pop icons as influence, but more about the psychology that drives decision making in American culture. Because I grew up moving from place to place, I never got attached to cultural traditions specific to any region. Nonetheless, I’ve always been very aware of its importance. I use nature, specifically animals, to illustrate my thoughts on social behavior. I have an insatiable curiosity of how traditions and culture shape a community.
Image courtesy of Brett Chigoy
Five words (more or less) to describe Lafayette in relation to your work.
Although I don't work here enough for Lafayette to have much of a relationship to my work, mentoring with Robert Dafford for about ten years definitely roots me to both the Lafayette community and the larger world in which I work.
Describe a perfect day in the neighborhood. What do you do, where do you go, who are you with?
My perfect day in the neighborhood is spent in my studio on Garfield St. and eating lunch and dinner at home with my wife and daughter. Anytime I am working in the neighborhood is a perfect day.
Image courtesy of Brettt Chigoy
How do you feel Lafayette supports its artistic community?
We have a couple of great institutions in the Hilliard University Art Museum and the Acadiana Center for the Arts. I think Mary Beyt and Brian Guidry curate a great balance of modern and regional specific art at the AcA. I am never disappointed in a show there. Jai Faulk is also doing great things at Basin Arts. I hope we continue this strong upward trend of bringing arts commerce back to downtown Lafayette.
Lafayette could be summed up in a handful of “alternative seasons.” Rank these in order of preference from 1-5 (1 is tops): OR create your own!
Any time it isn't cold I am happy.
I am very fortunate in never having any doubt as to what I was going to be professionally. As long as I can earn a living using the skills and passion I’ve pursued my entire life, I will be happy. I work as a scenic artist on movie sets, a decorative painter for residences and businesses, and from time to time I get to play in my studio. My artistic/creative inspiration is having a challenge. There is so much ugly that we are bombarded with everyday. My daily challenge is to appreciate and cultivate beauty wherever I can find it.
You can view Brett’s work at The Warehouse 625 Garfield St. He and fellow artists have recently begun to open the common spaces of the warehouse as an art market during from 12-6:30 pm on the 2nd Saturday of every month before Art Walk. I wanted to give artists, myself included, a space to display and sell their work without the pressure that comes with a gallery show. It also gives collectors and decorators a monthly space to view a rotating display of fresh artwork from some of Lafayette’s talented crop of artists. All proceeds from each sale go to the artist and shows are curated by Chris Pavlik, Herb Roe, and Brett Chigoy.