ArtFeaturesShowcaseSlideshowSpotlight

Brooke Wiebe to make festival debut at Fort Worth’s Main St. Arts Festival

By Jaidyn HaysApril 1, 2024No Comments

Brooke Wiebe to make festival debut at Fort Worth’s Main St. Arts Festival

By Rachael Lindley
Photos by Robert Mallison

Local painter explores the concept of mortality in cacti collection

It won’t be an easy first appearance, but Brooke Wiebe, 34, will make her festival debut at the Main St. Arts Festival, April 18-21. The Fort Worth artist, wife and mother of two will showcase a collection of about 15 pieces.

Wiebe’s acrylic paintings focus on her stylized, modern view of cacti and stunning southwestern landscapes, but the meaning behind these pieces is much deeper.

“This collection is about the dichotomy of nature, of life and death,” Wiebe said. “It’s about humanity and processing loss. It’s an exploration of grief and new life.”

Wiebe has experienced the unexpected loss of loved ones in the past few years. In her pain and grief, she turned to painting.

In keeping with the theme of appreciating nature and life cycles, Wiebe uses upcycled canvases.

Through her exploration of cacti, artist Brooke Wiebe has taken more of an interest in deserts, Native American culture and the afterlife.

“It’s my way of being more sustainable,” she said. “I feel like our society makes things and throws them away at such a rapid pace. This way my artwork is more environmentally friendly and doesn’t contribute to such waste.”

“I can’t remember a time I wasn’t making art,” Wiebe said. She began painting at an early age and has distinct memories of her father guiding and encouraging her. “I had family, friends and teachers telling me that my work was good, so I figured I had found my ‘thing.’”

Wiebe attended Texas Tech University and received her bachelor’s degree in painting. While attending Texas Tech, she spent some time abroad at the University of the Arts London, where she was exposed to people whose art ranged from directing theatrical productions to fashion design and printmaking.

“My time in London was a transformative experience for me because I began to realize that what I created was important, and I could do it for a living,” Wiebe said.

After years of working in a corporate job in Houston and her artwork taking a backseat, Wiebe eventually moved to Canada to be with her now-husband, and she began to create again, albeit with a bit of a creative block. That all changed when Wiebe became pregnant with her first child.

“It was as if the floodgates opened,” Wiebe said. “I was painting constantly.”

It was then that Wiebe suddenly lost two family members in rapid succession. Her bereavement led her to begin painting her current collection. This burst of creativity continued even more throughout her second pregnancy.

“The experience of losing my loved ones cracked me open,” Wiebe said. “All of these paintings came pouring out of me. It was all very organic.”

Her work during this time reflects where she was mentally.

“When I take a step back and look at my paintings from that time, the energy is incredibly somber,” Wiebe said. “You can see that in my expressionism and the colors I chose. The backgrounds of my paintings tend to be very dark during this period. Even though these cacti are in the dark they’re still growing. I took all these feelings and put them on a canvas.”

This is apparent in her painting “Ghost of You.” Wiebe points out she sees a lot of similarities between cacti and people.

“Cactus, like people, are resilient and can withstand harsh environments. They can survive things. I think I was subconsciously realizing that I could go through difficult situations and survive as well,” Wiebe said.

Through her time painting and exploring cacti, she has taken even more of an interest in deserts, Native American culture and even the afterlife.

Artist Brooke Wiebe studied painting at Texas Tech and attended art school in London.

One painting, “Crossing Over,” deals with themes of the actual death process. Wiebe began researching near-death experiences or NDEs, and noticed an overwhelming consistency of what people felt as they were dying — or when they thought they were dying. NDE survivors explain a sense of calm reassurance and report seeing beautifully vibrant colors.

As she began to heal, her artwork began to reflect these feelings as well. In these paintings, her use of color is telling. In “New Perspective,” Wiebe paints a beautiful desert horizon with lush vegetation and sunset tones.

Wiebe stays busy with her husband and two children, but she still makes time to hone her craft in her at-home studio.
“It’s my little retreat,” Wiebe laughed.

Though she is not currently represented, she said she is open to it. She makes most of her sales in person. Wiebe is currently working on a collection of abstract paintings.

“A year ago I was wondering how I could be involved (in Main St.), and this year, here I am preparing a complete collection,” Wiebe said. “As someone who grew up in Fort Worth, I am so excited to be a part of the Main St. Arts Festival.”