February 21st, 2024

Art exhibit honors fun-loving man killed in mass shooting in Maine

By The Associated Press on February 11, 2024.

Peter Precourt levels a sign in the front window for the "There Goes My Hero: Chapter 1 Peyton Brewer-Ross" show Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024 at Art:Works on Main gallery in Winthrop, Maine. One of the 18 people killed in the deadliest mass shooting in Maine history is being remembered in art, including some of his own. An art exhibit this weekend paid tribute to Peyton Brewer-Ross, a Navy shipbuilder and father. (Joe Phelan/The Kennebec Journal via AP)

WINSLOW, Maine (AP) – Peyton Brewer-Ross was the life of the party, with wraparound sunglasses and an outlandish Randy “Macho Man” Savage Slim Jim jacket. He also was a Navy shipbuilder, the father of a 2-year-old girl, and engaged to be married.

Brewer-Ross, one of the 18 people killed in the deadliest mass shooting in Maine history, was remembered during a weekend art exhibit dubbed, “There Goes My Hero: Chapter One: Peyton Brewer-Ross.” The 40-year-old was playing cornhole with friends when he was gunned down on Oct. 25 in Lewiston. Another 13 people were injured.

His fiancée, Rachael Sloat, said she curated the art exhibit “to shed a little light on just how fun and eclectic a man he truly was, and most importantly the hero he was and will always be to our daughter Elle.”

“I want Peyton to be remembered for all that he was and not boxed into any particular category, most especially this recent tragedy. Some people will remember him from cornhole, some will remember him as a pipe fitter, some will remember him for his Slim Jim jacket. Peyton was all of those things and so much more,” she wrote.

Sloat was a student of art professor Peter Precourt at the University of Maine at Augusta, who owns the gallery, Art:Works on Main. Sloat inspired Brewer-Ross to take an art class at Southern Maine Community College.

She said she thought it’d be fun for people to see some of his paintings, and for others to join in. The artwork included a cornhole board decorated in Brewer-Ross’ honor and drawings depicting him in his homemade, tasseled jacket that paid tribute to the flamboyant professional wrestler “Macho Man,” who appeared in ads for Slim Jim, one of Brewer-Ross’ favorite snacks.

And Brewer-Ross’ own work was also on display: his painting of a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer signed with his initials “PBR”; self-portrait in sunglasses and a cowboy hat; and, in a nod to his own sense of humor, a man holding aloft a pair of men’s white underwear.

Precourt offered up his gallery because he felt he needed to do something after the tragedy, and he’s willing to continue the series to honor others. “I’m committed as long as people are interested in keeping this conversation going,” he said.

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