TestTubeBaby’s (Brian Gross) grade 5 class staged his play about hell emptying as its inhabitants lapsed into kindness. At 10, his Mother Goose-themed radio play aired across the US on NPR.
Getting a guitar at 15, he wrote 100s of songs—mapping his youth amid the carnage of AIDS. After being LA’s first openly gay high school president, he lived in a car, hung around with Harry Hay and served on Jesse Jackson’s ‘88 presidential bid.
Celebrating 24 by hiding from his drug dealer boyfriend and smoking joint after opium-dipped joint, he was then accepted into CalArts and joined AA.
While embracing the 12-step view he was a lost soul only God could save, his acclaimed 1996 musical play, “If I Were Lost,” detailed how excesses in corporeality rescued him from excesses of intellectualism—and vice-verse.
The band he fronted, Apocrypho, was signed to ADSR Musicwerks, but his activities seemed increasingly inconsequential in AA’s fake-it-til-you-make-it solipsism: teaching art to LGBTQ+ & homeless youth, exhibiting in galleries, composing for dance, teaching university, authoring textbooks, immigrating to Indonesia, then Canada on account of DOMA.
He landed in Canada’s harm reduction field, facilitating a drug user group—organized around inclusion, not sobriety. His artistic life sprang back to life—dragging him back to complexity. He now develops programs that help systems share their power with those they serve—and continues charting his journey in art and music.
Brian has been trained in and works extensively with:
- outcome mapping,
- communities of practice,
- developmental evaluation,
- acceptance and commitment therapy,
- motivational interviewing, and
- trauma and resiliency-informed practice.
Brian’s work in the art and social justice and change spheres has gained significant and consistent press coverage, and has resulted in numerous US and Canadian awards, honours, grants and fellowships—locally, regionally, provincially and nationally.
Brian earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Critical Writing from California Institute of the Arts, and a Master of Counselling from City University of Seattle.
Brian lives and works on unceded Coast Salish territory in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.