All of the events in Brent Toomey's life have led him to this.
Artist Brent Toomey uses the word "serendipity" a lot to describe his 52-year-old life.
When he first moved to Ormond Beach from Louisville, Toomey used to sit on a bench inside the Fountain Square Shopping Village and look up at a particular office space on the second floor. He didn't know what he wanted to do with it, but he said that's where he wanted to be.
Now, 30 years later, he's opened an art gallery in that same exact space. The Monreve Gallery of Fine Art officially opens on March 3, with an opening reception from 6-8 p.m. Monreve is french for "my dream" and means a lot to Toomey.
“Even the bad mistakes, the bad decisions and the good decisions has led me personally to this point, you know what I mean?" Toomey said. "I want people to realize that they can do anything they set their minds to."
One of the first memories he has of falling in love with art happened when he was seven-years-old. He hooked up a small fan to a battery and began pouring droplets of paint onto the moving fan, fascinated with how the colors swirled and splattered all around him.
His art is still centered around colors today. Toomey is a John Coltrane lover constantly splattered in paint from head to toe. His fingertips are stained whatever color he last worked on, and he absolutely loves it. His house is also covered in paint, from doorknobs to the walls.
He's an abstract expressionist who always paints with the canvas laid down on the ground, inspired by artists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Because of all the people that have lent him a hand during his life, he wants to do the same to others. Toomey hopes to help other artists, who maybe need a little boost in confidence, show their art.
“You can be an artist. You are an artist. We are all artists, are we not?”
Brent Toomey, Ormond Beach artist
It's what Frame of Mind did for him a few years ago.
The Kentucky native fell in love with the "world's most famous beach" as a springbreaker and decided he wanted to live here. So he left his restaurant job in Louisville and moved down to Ormond Beach, where he began working selling suntan oil and at Billy's Tavern. This town is where he met his lifelong partner, Lynnette Albertson, whom he lovingly calls his wife.
Toomey gets goosebumps thinking about her. He said there is no doubt he would never have gotten anywhere without her.
“She’s my lady," Toomey said. "She’s my lady, my girl.”
Together, they have raised their 16-year-old daughter Penny Lane. Toomey called her phenomenal, and not just because she's his daughter. He said he has raised her to value having passion and creativity for something, no matter the subject — that's something he believes strongly in.
“You can be an artist," Toomey said. "You are an artist. We are all artists, are we not?”
Toomey paints a lot of sunrises and sunsets. There's a serendipitous story behind that too.
He was a young slightly hungover man on a greyhound bus and an older man offers him a drink. Toomey turns him down, and instead of walking away the man offers him a piece of advice that has stuck with Toomey ever since.
The man tells Toomey that there are two things he could count on.
“The sun rises and the sun sets," Toomey said. "If it doesn’t, we’re in for a lot of trouble. He goes, 'tomorrow will be a new day.'”
Toomey said opening up his art gallery isn't about him or his work. While this is his dream, he wants to be able to reach those artists that are just getting started. Eventually, he wants to host classes for people wanting to learn how to express the art within them.
For Toomey, it's all come full circle.
“It’s serendipity," Toomey said. "We were meant to be here.”