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Artist Nina Bradford debuts Heaven, Oregon art show

Display spans artist mediums; on display at Spiral Gallery


by: ESTACADA NEWS ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Artist Nine Bradford stands in front of her 'Friendship Quilt' collage.  Nina Bradford was so inspired by her 2011 visit to the Oak Grove Powerhouse and Three Lynx Community as a part of the Estacada Area Arts Commission’s “Estacada on the Clackamas: the Powerhouse Project” that she created an entire world of art from the experience.

Her "Heaven, Oregon" art show, which opened Friday, April 5 at the Spiral Gallery, spanned across a variety of mediums; from large collapsible paintings, collage in a traditional quilting pattern, to a nest of characters she imagined may have populated the Three Lynx community in times gone by.

Bradford was struck by the quiet, timeless energy she felt from the Oak Grove Powerhouse and Three Lynx. “You can almost feel these spirits or ghosts walking around," she said. "They were so quiet and at peace with the world. This place, to me, is what I think of as heaven."

In depicting water, Bradford drew influence from Monet. Her striking “Electric River,” which covers nearly an entire wall of the Spiral Gallery, is a robustly painted rendition of the water pouring from the dam and is the artist’s favorite piece.

“This was when it really got fun,” Bradford said. “Electric River” is painted in acrylic over nine smaller canvases. Because of limited space in her small studio, Bradford has had to come up with creative ways of making large pieces that may be stored easily.

by: ESTACADA NEWS ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Steven and Martha Amick enjoy First Friday at the Spiral Gallery in Estacada.This can be seen in “Friendship Quilt, Tall Tales of Heaven,” where the frames of the large collage are hinged together.

Bradford, who has been collaging and collecting antique paper since the early 1970s, arranged vintage Americana papers in the traditional Friendship Quilt pattern.

The collage includes wedding photos from the early 20th century, antique greeting cards, a Lucky Strike label, sheet music, vintage sewing patterns, and pages from old spelling and coloring books.

For Bradford, “Friendship Quilt” is an exploration of how an isolated community would have had to create its own culture.

Bradford’s "Heaven, Oregon" show is impressively diverse. Bradford’s first piece in the series, “Mac Oakie, the Spirit of Oak Grove Dam,” is an “illustration of the dam” in which Bradford gives the mechanical structure some masculine human aspects.

“Heaven on Earth” is a painted birdhouse, and the show also includes a nest (by Barbara’s Flowers) containing a host of characters that Bradford depicted through watercolor, ink, colored pencil, chalk, or an iPad drawing application.

by: ESTACADA NEWS ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Bradfords Heaven, Oregon show includes this painted birdhouse, Heaven on Wood, Quiet Time, painted from the perspective of looking out the window of one of the Three Lynx houses.“These are a few characters that lived in my stories of Heaven,” reads the card next to the piece.

“When I see Nina’s work, I am amazed out how she goes to new and creative places. Every show is different,” said retired Oregonian arts and culture reporter Steven Amick.

Bradford is a member of the Spiral Art Gallery co-op, and in fact, hung the first show for the original First Friday art opening in 2002.

Bradford helped Spiral Gallery founder Jami Berry plan the space and design a lighting scheme when the gallery first opened.

“She’s been here since the beginning,” said Berry of Bradford.

Guests at the First Friday event were treated to wine and snacks by artists of the co-op and enjoyed milling about observing Bradford’s show and other featured artwork in the gallery.

There was a jam session in the Mossy Rock’s back room and the Oregon Massage and Lymphedema Clinic hosted a chocolate party as part of the First Friday festivities as well.

Bradford recently returned from New York City, where she and her husband, production designer Laurence Bennett, attended the premiere of his latest movie, "The Company You Keep," starring Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci and Sam Elliott. In addition to making art, Bradford teaches yoga at the Flora Community Room of the Estacada Public Library. Her "Heaven, Earth" show will be featured at the Spiral Gallery throughout April.




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