Matthew Brinston was going to be a rock star. He was signed to a Los Angeles-based record label. He’d spent years honing his guitar playing and songwriting hanging out with now-successful performers in his hometown of Dallas.
Painting was merely something he did to acquire credits toward a studio arts degree in college to go along with his marketing degree. He always knew he could paint, but it didn’t inspire him.
Lying dead on an operating table for seven minutes in 2013 at age 20 following a horrific motorcycle accident changed all that. Revived, but comatose for the next three days, Brinston was told to become an artist.
“When I was in the motorcycle accident, I had this encounter with the creator of the universe you could say,” Brinston, who suffers no lingering effects from the wreck, explains. “There were no words exchanged, it was mainly like a transaction of thoughts given to me – ‘you’re not supposed to be gone yet; you’re not coming with me’ – and, ‘you’ve got more to do.’”
That “more to do” is paint.
“It was a miraculous second chance at life that was given to me,” Brinston says. “I was told from a higher power that (painting) is what I’m supposed to be doing with my time on Earth and this is what I’m supposed to be doing to impact people’s lives.”
Painting as therapy to help recover from the accident played a big role in his falling in love with it, but music-to-painting was a transition he resisted.
“I never really thought about being a professional painter or anything of that sort, so it definitely upset me, and I didn’t really want to, but I knew I had to,” Brinston says. “So, I just put music behind me, and everyone that was with music, and put it all behind me, and started going down the path of what I’m doing now.”
His “obligation” to paint would eventually develop into a passion.
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys
Spending his entire life in Dallas before moving to New York City in the fall of 2019 suffused Brinston’s upbringing with cowboy and Western motifs. Horses, ranchers, cowboy hats, cowboy boots – his grandfather was a farmer – for Brinston, this wasn’t a faraway, bygone lifestyle only seen in the movies. He was surrounded by it.
A cowboy juxtaposition Brinston had long considered inspired a painting which would eventually spawn an important series.
“The landscape that a cowboy is known to be in is this beautiful blue sky, open pastures, these poetic settings, and then you have a human – a messed up individual who is kind of rough around the edges,” Brinston explains. “When you put them in these beautiful settings it’s kind of an oxymoronic situation, it always fascinated me.”
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, titled after the Willie Nelson song, was painted in 2017 on an Italian paper window cover. The artist was reflecting on memories of his Texas childhood he hoped to retain. Particularly a pair of red cowboy boots he remembers wearing everywhere. Those red cowboy boots are prominently depicted within each of the 100 original silkscreen works Brinston spun off the My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys painting.
The first silkscreen project of his career, Brinston’s cowboy prints were created amid the COVID-19 pandemic in September 2020. With the series selling out in three weeks, he created additional color variations, 10 of which were on display at Sour Mouse (110 Delancey St, New York, NY 10002) from October 7-14, 2021.
From Big D to the Big Apple
Brinston’s successful debut with silkscreen has emboldened the artist to continue experimenting with new formats.
“I’m further interested in the hands-free technique of making images now, figuring out what more mechanisms I can use to distill in my practice – art simply revolving around image making, not necessarily brush to canvas,” he says.
New York provides the perfect setting for that experimentation.
While Brinston still loves Dallas, for him to reach his potential as a painter, a move was necessary. He immediately responded to the energy, pace and “magic” of New York.
“It’s all in the air here,” Brinston says of New York. “When you go to Paris, you feel like you’re in love with everybody you see, here, you just feel your creative gears turning.”
One advantageous side effect of Brinston’s moving to the City only months prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns was his ability to focus on work. With restaurants, museums and nightlife shut down, the artist had no distractions.
“I’m completely intoxicated with the passion behind making these paintings and what I’m pursuing to do with the future,” Brinston says.
So, have his heroes always been cowboys?
“All my heroes have had that spirit about them,” he says.
Upcoming, Brinston is releasing a new series of works, his “Line Series,” that will be available for purchase at the end of 2021.