The Comeback Kids: Brett Whitacre

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 9:13 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Brett Whitacre has a passion for art but not just any art, big art. He’s back in the Stateline to show off his skills but now has an extra meaning to all of his work as each piece makes Rockford a little bit brighter.

His passion for art is something he’s had for most of his life as it was initially just a hobby. For a time, music was his priority and he went on several tours with his band across many portions of the world. Brett says, “In 2001, I left for the city of Chicago to play more music and I joined every band I could find so I was playing all of the time.”

The Belvidere native was the drummer for the band Legendary Shack Shakers from 2005 to 2016 with his Instagram bio saying “I’ve played more drums than necessary.” It was during those years and the tours that helped realign his passions. “I’ve always been a drummer but at the same time a doodler, always artistic and just drawing things to pass the time. Bringing things home from the alley. Analog TV sets, I used to paint on those all of the time. Turn junk into something nice and put some nice colors, some nice design,” Brett adds.

He says his vibrant art with a hint of whimsy will always showcase bright and positive colors. But he admits his art is very personal. He adds, “I’m a color blind artist so my colors are muted. You’ll see a lot of bright colors in my art because that’s what looks good to me.”

In recent years, he wanted to go bigger with his art. Now, he considers himself to be a full-time muralist in a city he says supports in a big way. “I’ve been given some great opportunities the City of Rockford, the City of Loves Park to do large-scale murals,” Brett says, “Where before coming here, I was going mostly toward Chicago to do these. Any outsiders coming through, it’s going to look like a lot of positivity.”

He also hopes to spread the message that you don’t need a big city to be successful in the art world. He’s living, breathing proof of just that praising the available and affordable art space around the region. He says, “Rockford has lots of old warehouse buildings, which you can get into and have a nice raw space with a lot of room to think with high ceilings for an affordable price. That was different from Chicago big time, I’d be on a back porch in Chicago.”

Brett has murals across the Stateline including several in downtown Rockford and a few Beef-a-Roo locations. His studio is in downtown Rockford where he makes and sells smaller art year-round.

You can check out his Instagram here.

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