June 12 – July 6, 2019
Reception June 14 [6-9 pm]

An exhibition of the brain, body, being and breath of Bradley J Books

The work of Bradley Books is genuinely distinctive.  His drive to create comes naturally and his prolific output morphs trauma to light with a clever wit.  His first solo exhibition acts as a memoir, while allowing the viewer open-book access to both his physical and mental states of being. His story starts with his exposure to toxins from a super fund site in utero, through an unimaginable struggle to Boulder County, where he has finally caught his breath.

The timeline of his journey is rendered directly to the wall and filled with photos, poems, lyrics, drawings, paintings, objects and documents; we can only attempt to digest his adversity. Early on, Bradley uses dark, earthy colors and thick bold lines, presumably guarded and filled with angst. As he grows, his marks become lighter, his colors brighter, his subjects softer. Here is where we see his incredible strength and drive. This progression culminates with four expressive and intricate watercolor drawings, carefully framed and presented museum style – symbolizing his ultimate accomplishment.

Providing greater context and depth to his story are references to the brain, the body, the being and the breath. Fundamental to all of us, yet elusive to harmonize. Here in this body of work Bradley focuses on each in a unique way.=

The brain (his brain) is portrayed with knitted I-cords of colorful yarn, zig-zagging across the ceiling, filled with his experiences, memories, visions, and emotions. I-cords connect thoughts to reality in the narrative of his life and ‘mood’ paintings hang, weightless, overhead becoming pockets of retreat.

A jagged silhouette of his body is Bradley’s most common mark, a trademark allowing him to exist within the reality of his creation (most often painting or knitting). In the exhibition, his body or silhouette, orbits on a central access point, rotating through ups and downs relentlessly.

For Bradley, the act of being (and his well being) always comes back to creating art. He feels guilty if he doesn’t create. Sketchbook drawing is his preferred form of amusement. On days when he physically feels unable to leave the house, he turns to simple, yet complex, black and white drawings, that flow from his mind with ease. They start as quick sketches capturing memories of a day. He sketches figures and shapes he sees on the sidewalk, or animals on a hike or his feelings of self longing. Every drawing becomes a meditation as he becomes lost in the sound of pen on paper and he relishes the accomplishment of ink on a page.

In a darkened alcove, he proudly welcomes us to experience his highly filtered breath. His inhale, through leaves of tobacco, helps him process the world around him and consciously decide to believe what he’s told or not. In a defiant act to all those who have told him he would get better if he just quit smoking, he exhales smugly and enjoys a socially acceptable suicide.

In Some Men Lie About Other Things, Bradley Books divulges his inner workings with carefully plotted references to his brain, body, being and breath.     

The exhibition divulges the chaos of his world, but moments of extreme clarity and power persevere. Some form of art or another has always pulled him out of the darkest moments, giving him the ability to believe in himself and giving him the drive to carry on. It was here at the Firehouse, 4.5 years ago that Bradley first saw himself as an artist. Now he is launching his first exhibition as a working artist, while teaching monthly classes through the Firehouse’s Art of Possibilities program he helped launch. Finally settled in Longmont, he is thriving, surrounded by a supportive and loving creative community, willing to accept him for who he is.