A! Magazine for the Arts

Brett Marcus Cook

Brett Marcus Cook

Brett Marcus Cook joins "Cherry Bounce' exhibit

October 26, 2016

Brett Marcus Cook is primarily a comics artist. His style is illustrative and emphasizes dynamic line work and bright colors. He tends toward the surreal and draws "a lot of giant monsters, so scale is an important element of what I do," he says.

Cook wasn't in the initial round of artists involved with "Cherry Bounce," an exhibit at William King Museum of Art, Abingdon, Virginia. An artist who was supposed to create artwork based on materials from the George H.W. Bush campaign dropped out a few days before the show.

Eric Drummond Smith, curator of the show, was thinking about a replacement artist when he walked into Callie Hietala's office at the William King Museum of Art, Abingdon, Va. There he saw a piece of Cook's artwork hanging on a wall and inspiration struck.

He called Cook and asked him if he would join the show. "I didn't have a lot of time to do my piece," Cook says. "I reacted in a very immediate, visceral way and painted quickly, trying to capture what I thought was the aggressive energy of the Bush campaign itself."

Cook's inspiration was the Bush vs. Dukakis campaign of 1988, the year Cook was born.

"To me this was one of the first elections where TV ads got truly aggressive, the start of the spectacles we've been witnessing these past few elections, this year's especially. I was drawn to the ideas of Appalachian artists reacting specifically to the presidential elections themselves, not necessarily the actions taken in office."

His piece is mixed media, primarily gouache paint, watercolors and charcoal line work. "America Can't Afford That Risk," depicts George H.W. Bush, his face red, looming over the mountains and looking down on a burning tank.

"I think art can play a big role in politics. There's definitely something powerful there. I just don't think it's utilized much here in the U.S., outside of things like Shepard Fairey's portrait of President Obama, (a stylized stencil portrait of Obama in solid red, beige and light and dark blue, with the word "progress," "hope" or "change" below), which seemed to make a big impact. In other countries, political cartoonists have been jailed or suffered even worse consequences for their work. Memes (humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied often with slight variations and spread rapidly by Internet users) seem to be quite a driving force in this year's election, but that's something else altogether."

Cook was born in Bristol, Virginia, and studied graphic design at East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee. He has been writing, illustrating and self-publishing comics since graduation.

This is his second appearance at William King Museum of Art. In 2014, the museum hosted a show for his graphic novel, "Other Sleep."

You can see Cook's work at www.animatedtrigger.com.

What makes a Cherry Bounce?