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Obsessed With Sharks

Brian Buckles
artist Brian Buckles

Brian Buckles is passionate about art, marine life, and ocean conservation. The 36-year-old Bettendorf native blends those loves in a new exhibit open at Beréskin Gallery and Art Academy, in Bettendorf.

Buckles will be at an opening reception for “Art for the Sea,” from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Friday August 7. Masks are required, and social distancing will be practiced. The show – featuring 11 original oil paintings and four graphite sketches -- runs through August 27.

Buckles, a graduate of Bettendorf High School who earned a degree in graphic design from Iowa State University, is excited to bring is art to his hometown, at the gallery owned by Pat Bereskin, one of his art teachers.

“Our paths have crossed over the years and I have a ton of respect for her and what she’s done in the community, to further the arts in the community. I’m super thankful and fortunate to have this opportunity with her. So very grateful."

"It’s inspiring to see her dedication to the community, and furthering the arts, particularly in the next generation, which she’s been doing for years and years and years.”

He fell in love with the ocean for the first time as a preschooler during one of many family vacations in southern California, and became obsessed with sharks and drawing. In grade school, he would find a way to creatively work a shark into every art project.

“When I was really young, I always loved the ocean, we were always around it on vacations, but for some reason, sharks in particular just really captivated me.”

As a young student, Buckles saw a video about the illegal fishing trade and a practice called shark finning, where fins are stripped from sharks and their bodies thrown back in the water, where they die or are eaten by predators.

A certified diver, he’s observed Caribbean reef sharks up close during an excursion in the Bahamas. For the past three years, Buckles has done design work for a nonprofit organization called Sharks4Kids, which offers free educational materials worldwide.

“In reality, the great white shark is not like the movie ‘Jaws.” I’m trying to put my art to work I guess, and use it more than wall decoration, but use it to change perceptions and let people see these animals.”

As a predator, sharks serve an important role to maintain balance in the ecosystem, mainly controlling the seal population. Buckles uses his vivid art to raise awareness.

"That’s the power of the arts. It allows and can take us to places we maybe can’t always go. I want to make sure people do see the beauty of what’s around us. We have an important role to play in being good stewards of things that are around us.”

“When I look around me, the entire world is a canvas and you see its beauty and every creature has a role to play. For me, for some reason, marine life and in particular sharks have been the thing that naturally meant something to me, I guess. I’ve just kind of made it my mission to use whatever gifts or talents I have, to share both that beauty, but also to share that story – that sometimes I don’t think is told loud enough.”

Buckles worked 14 years for the TAG advertising agency in Davenport, and recently moved with his wife and three kids to Waterloo, Iowa, where he does advertising and marketing for a dental practice.

To see his work, visit brianbucklesartwork.com.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.