A diverse and enthusiastic crowd of Austinites gathered at the Dedrick-Hamilton House on Sept. 17 to celebrate local artist Brian Joseph with the opening of a new retrospective art exhibit, “Bringing You Delightful Entertaining Experiences” (BYDEE). Affectionately known as “The Bydee Man,” Joseph has been sharing his brilliantly colored works of art designed to celebrate peace and multiculturalism for three decades.
Thirty years ago, Joseph was a City of Austin employee who had never taken a single art lesson. Unhappy with the direction of his life, he picked up a paintbrush and drew a man leaning in front of a sea shell. Three days later, serendipity found him exhibiting that and other pieces at an art show at Palmer Auditorium, and he has been painting ever since.
The Bydee people are in their own utopia and look out, wondering why we are so disturbed.
The shell in his first painting was in tribute to his beloved home, Trinidad, where shells abound. As he evolved, Joseph realized the image was representative of himself “coming out of my shell” and entering a new level of living. The Bydee people represented in the majority of his later work “are in their own world, a sort of utopia. They look out at us and wonder why we are so disturbed.”
Joseph and his Bydee community strive to promote peace, love and happiness. He pointed out that the Bydee people have no faces because of the human tendency to emphasize looks. “You don’t have to be good looking to be happy,” Joseph says.
The exhibit, “Retrospective of Brian Joseph’s Art,” is sponsored by the Greater Austin Black Commerce. It is an opportunity for patrons and friends to acknowledge the gift Joseph’s collection has been to the Austin community. Attendees were treated to soulful musical performances, including Cecil Francis on steel drums.
Long-time Austin residents Dale and Trina Robertson were in attendance and recall the Bydee Man’s work at a Clarksville Festival early in Joseph’s artistic career. Trina noted that since then, “Bydee’s work has been integrated into practically every local social movement I’ve seen.” This aligns with Joseph’s desire to become even more active in civic and social progress, using his art to make a positive difference.