‘They will feel his energy and spirit’: New exhibition shines light on the late painter and LBUSD teacher Rod Briggs

By day, Rod Briggs was a Long Beach-based schoolteacher. By night, he was a painter.

“Rod Briggs: Retrospective” is a new art exhibition honoring the career of the prolific Long Beach artist, known for his photorealist paintings detailing scenes of the city. The show was made possible by the Long Beach Creative Group with support from the Port of Long Beach via a Community Scholarship Grant.

The exhibition, which will be available for scheduled weekend showings Jan. 16 through Feb. 6, will take guests back through some 40 years of the artist’s compositions staged in the very studio where the artist worked. An online virtual gallery is also available.

“I think it is really important that people see my father’s work,” Rod Briggs’s son, Cameron, said in a statement. “In my opinion, I don’t think there are too many artists who could equal his skill and precision and, at the same time, convey the depth of emotion and feeling. If people can come into this space and see his work, they will feel his energy and spirit.”

“Rod Briggs: A Retrospective” features 17 paintings, many of which chronicle a period of the city through the mid to late 20th century and early 21st century.

The 1986 painting “Early Sunday Services” by Rod Briggs.

“He would get buildings half torn down, in the process of their destruction,” Michael Stearns, who ran the prominent local fine art gallery, Gallery 33, said in a statement. “He captured the period when Long Beach was changing from ‘Old Sleepy Navy Town’ to what it is now.”

Born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1927, Briggs taught at several schools within the Long Beach Unified School District for decades and dedicated his nights and weekends to working in his studio, honing the fine art of oil painting. Briggs also explored abstract expressionism, watercolor landscapes, sculpture and various other media until his death in 2017.

Titled “At 60” this is a self-portrait of Rod Briggs. Image courtesy Long Beach Creative Group.

Briggs’s work has been shown in galleries across the US and includes a collection residing permanently at the Long Beach Museum of Art and The Long Beach Creative Group. The LBCG gallery, located at 2221 East Broadway, was formerly Briggs’s studio until his son, Cameron, invited the Long Beach Creative Group to transform the 1800-square-foot space into a gallery in 2019.

As a tribute to the artist, several of his pieces and art supplies, including paint brushes, paint tubes and colorful work surfaces were on display. However, this will be the first exhibition dedicated entirely to the artist.

“Rod Briggs: Retrospective” will be available for in-person viewing at 2221 East Broadway from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays beginning Jan. 16 through Feb. 6, 2021. To make an appointment, call 562-400-5166 and leave a message with your name and phone number. You can view the virtual gallery, here.

The 1984 “Closing Time” painting by Rod Briggs. Image Courtesy Long Beach Creative Group.

 

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Cheantay Jensen is reporter and award-winning videographer who covers music, art, food and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post. And sometimes breaking news, you know, just to keep things interesting.
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