Isaac’s losses lead to new opportunities for area artist

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, March 27, 2013

When Hurricane Issac slammed onto the Gulf Coast last August, artist Brent Tew lost more than his home.

Years of sketches and paintings, as well as all of his art supplies, were ruined under three feet of water that invaded lower Livingston Parish, La. In the midst of loss, however, the 25-year-old artist managed to gain something valuable – a new perspective.

“After the storm, I decided I wanted to get my art out, stop keeping it to myself,” Tew recalls.

This new resolve led to Tew being recently notified that his work has been chosen for the book “Reflections, A Collection of Art,” scheduled for publication this summer. His acrylic painting “Pelican on a Post” and colored-pencil drawing “Louisiana Lighthouse” will both have full pages in the book, and they’ll list Brookhaven as the artist’s residence.

“My wife and I came here after the storm to be near my mother,” explains Tew. “We’ve stayed because we like the quiet. The people are nice.”

A slight young man with serious blue eyes, Tew has the expected accent of a hurricane evacuee, but unlike others who have fled Louisiana, he has an unexpected familiarity with Lincoln County. That’s because Tew actually graduated from Loyd Star High School in 2006.

It was in Louisiana, however, that he benefited from several years of art classes. Tew admits this was life-changing for a teenager with erythokeratoderma variabilis, a rare skin condition.

“People tend to judge me based on my condition, which they have no clue about. All my life I’ve been given ugly stares and bad remarks because of it. When I was younger I used art as an escape from my everyday life. It was my best friend, since I had very few of them.”

Then he was tested for, and asked to join, his school’s special program for gifted and talented students.

“I had a great teacher who encouraged me to try different mediums. Our class put pieces in exhibits at malls in New Orleans. We gave our some away to the Louisiana Children’s Hospital. Through those experiences I learned that I loved to show my art, because people stared at it and not at me.”

As an adult artist, Tew has a faithful patron in his wife, Juliette. “Brent is really talented. He’s tried other ways to use his skills, but I understand he likes to do pieces that are tangible, lasting,” she says. “He has my full support.”

Tew is currently working on a sunset scene in his personal studio on Jackson Liberty Drive. It’s a piece full of bright colors, as are most of his projects. And with the upcoming publication of his work lending credibility to his talent, Tew hopes the sunset, when finished, will be one the public wants to see and enjoy.

“It’s an amazing feeling knowing that (through the book) my art will be seen by a lot of people. It’s the start I’ve been shooting for.”