Art in Bloom Gallery holds an opening reception for a new exhibit this Friday, December 7, 6:00pm-8:00pm. The exhibit, titled Colors of Expression, features paintings of abstract artist Bradley Carter. One of his pieces, "What it Feels Like," is being raffled to raise money for the Betty H. Cameron Women's & Children's Hospital.
Listen to our discussion with Bradley and gallery owner Amy Grant above, and find our extended conversation below. See some of Bradley's work here. Raffle tickets ($1) can be purchased at the gallery or online. Art in Bloom Gallery is 210 Princess St. in downtown Wilmington.
Bradley: I'm Bradley Carter, the artist that will be at Art and Bloom Gallery
Amy: I'm Amy Grant, the owner of Art and Bloom Gallery, who has the good luck to work with these original artists and their work.
Gina: And they have the delight to be able to work with you.
Bradley: We do, and we are very fortunate, so is Wilmington, to have Amy here.
Gina: I know. I'd like to talk about Bradley's art, about your art, Bradley. And I'm going to talk a little bit with Amy about your stuff, even though you're here and it's maybe rude, but we're going to talk about you for a second. Amy, it's hard for artists to really describe what they do, I think, or what they're trying to do. So what do you see in Bradley's art? What do you see, Amy?
Amy: As an abstract expressionist artist, I see what's in the eye of the beholder. So when I look at these abstract pieces, it's just a wonderful adventure to see what I see. And the three series that he's presenting at Art and Bloom Gallery—silhouettes, beautiful resin pieces, and more abstract—every time I look at them I see something different. So I see originality and experimentation, which are two of my favorite things about art.
Gina: Yeah. There's a piece here that I have been looking at, and I've seen your work here, as well.
Bradley: Yes ma'am.
Gina: Which I love. I love it. And whenever I talk about abstract art, it's like you see things in it sometimes or you see things that you can't quite—you see the ineffable, the things you can't express. So there's pieces called "This Too Shall Pass," and I don't know what it is about that piece...
Bradley: The triptych?
Gina: Yes. The triptych "This Too Shall Pass," when I look at it, I feel something coming out of my chest. You know what I mean? Like pulling me forward. Something intense.
Bradley: I mean with the abstract expressionist style, it's a lot about the artist and being in the act of painting and experiencing the paint. So working on the triptych was a little bit bigger for me, but it got a little bit more involved and got a little bit more in-depth personally to get into it. And I mean the title, "This Too Shall Pass," it's my wife's favorite saying and it's kind of what she talks about. Life's difficult and these moments come and go but they are going to pass. So that's kinda where this piece was born out of and it's just that in-depth movement into the painting and the reds and the golds. But then you have that lyrical and dance movement that helps you flow through it with those lines. The white and black. And hopefully, like you said, it does pull you in, but it does give you that opening feeling that you're growing or blossoming. It has an outstretched feel.
Gina: It does. There's a feeling of movement. And I feel like it's like a [sighs.] There's some intensity there, though. I think it's the quality of that red.
Bradley: And that goes into your color theory and stuff where, what does red really mean, and the passion of it. And I mean in your golds and then your blues, they're very—your blue is gonna be a lot more subtle and calming. But then you add that passionate red right on top of it. So there's a lot of give and take there with that. So it's that deep sigh, like you're saying—you're comfortable, but it's still powerful.
Gina: And did you decide, "I want to paint ‘This Too Shall Pass,’" and then you painted it? Or did you paint it and then you were like, that's what this is?
Bradley: There are no titles before. And it doesn't matter if it's the abstracts or the silhouettes or the floral impression series. As it's done, you experience the painting and then the title kind of comes to you and that's what it is. And then it just evolves. And the work takes a long time, so there is a relationship you build with it and it does get a dialogue going, and then that's where the titles kind of come out of, are born out of.
Gina: Okay, this one really—well I love the colors! I feel energy coming from all of them. There's energy.
Bradley: I love color theory. So a lot of my stuff is based off of the abstract expressionist style, but also color theory and color field. And it's just understanding the historic-ness of a color, or its symbolism, or its natural associations. And it's gonna be different for all of us versus say, myself or Amy. We're going to have completely different feels towards the blue. I mean, you have your historic connections to blue, but then also our personal interaction with blue. If you were born in North Carolina, you just love that sky, but if you're somewhere else, it's just... I'm not sure if I'm explaining it right, but we have different connections to certain colors personally, besides the historical symbolism and all those things.
Gina: Even culturally.
Bradley: Yes. Oh yes.
Gina: I understand that there are certain people in certain cultures that can't see certain colors, or at least not the way that we see them. (And vice-versa.)
Bradley: It comes down to, I guess, culture and symbolism of the color. They take a lot of that into consideration when making the flags and all the other things too, what it means to them. Color's just fantastic. I mean, I have books and books on color and I can sit there and go through this because it's so many different meanings and so personal to understand what color means to you, like the painting behind you. I mean it has the blues again and then it has a little bit of the purples which gives you that royal feel. And in the greens, it's energy and vitality and rebirth, and it's just understanding what those colors mean historically or symbolism. It helps especially with abstract because you have no subject, so how do you create a composition? And you're doing it through the form and the color and all that stuff to make it work as one whole piece. And color is a big part of that to connect.
Gina: When you're painting, what is your environment like?
Bradley: My studio. I mean, it's quiet, there's probably music going. I usually have some of my favorite artists playing or if it's just classical, even movie scores. Some of those are fantastic. There's so much up and down in those movie scores. They're very powerful sometimes, because they're trying to fit a whole story into that one song. So that's fun when you're painting also.
Gina: And of course music is abstract.
Bradley: Oh yes. It can be. Yeah. It doesn't have to be as literal as just the words coming out and painting the picture though. So you take away the words, that music can go anywhere. Just like the painting.
Gina: Amy, did you want to comment anymore about Bradley's work?
Amy: I appreciate the link to history and at the same time, the ability to see things in the moment. So the triptych, the three panels together—I think of other three panels I've seen in my life and loved, and when I look at that one and I get up in the gallery and really look at it in person, the feeling is very intense. And the experience of installing the art and being there and looking at everything in person is extraordinary.
Gina: Yeah. I recently went to New York and I saw some Chagall and I saw some Van Gogh. I saw some Van Gogh I didn't know existed, which surprised me, but seeing it in person--I took pictures of it so I could show the kids and my husband later, and the it was wait, you can't see it at all!
Bradley: They're a really different feel, you know, two-dimensional to actually feeling the art and being there.
Gina: You've got to be there with it. Amy, you and Bradley are partnering to donate the proceeds from an art raffle to New Hanover Regional Medical Center's Betty H. Cameron Women's & Children's Hospital. And so there are raffle tickets on sale, just a dollar a piece. And they're on sale now?
Amy: Yes they are. You can purchase via the web if you go to the Art and Bloom Gallery website, www.aibgallery.com. Or you're welcome to visit the gallery. We're open Tuesday through Saturday between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM at 210 Princess Street. The raffle prize that Brad has so generously donated is called "What It Feels Like." It's part of the floral impression series. And everyone who sees it says, “How did he do that?” Because it's dimensional and there's resin in it, gold leaf, all sorts of really interesting parts of that beautiful raffle prize.
Gina: And those florals, they are so darn cute.
Bradley: And that's what they're meant to be. There's not a whole lot of—versus the abstract where I want there to be a lot more history and meaning—the florals, they're fun, they're colorful, they're just supposed to make you happy and that's it.
Amy: It's bubbly, vibrant, dimensional.
Gina: And so whoever wins the raffle gets this piece of art.
Amy: Yes, and the gallery is matching the total amount raised. And one experience that Brad and I had, we were able to tour the Nunnelee Pediatric Specialty Clinic near Autumn Hall. The way that they've designed the clinic, they have original art everywhere to help with the healing process of the children who go there. So for example, there are windows on each door, and everywhere you look you see art. And the whole community has rallied around to donate art.
Gina: Wait, so are you going to have a piece in there?
Bradley: I hope so. It's gorgeous. And like Amy was saying, the design inside is like the inside of a ship, so they have portholes and they lowered the portholes so it's kid view. So when you look through you see outside. But a lot of artists through Wilmington have donated and it's more hands-on for the kids. It's not sterile. The colors are bright, it's vibrant, it's fun because they need a distraction. I mean, they're there for a reason that's probably not fun. So what can we do to help distract them from that? And art is a fantastic thing, and to me personally, art is a great way of expression. I wasn't the most outgoing child so a lot of my expressions came through art and music and stuff. So for these kids to be able to write down their experiences or paint their experiences, it's a big deal for them.
Amy: Another thing that impressed me about the pediatric specialty clinic for parents, family members, friends and the children, they make it as smooth as possible, so you can see who you need to see. And the teams of doctors talk with each other. So it's not only a wonderful concept to have this beautiful art all around them, but the way [ ? Nisha Alan ? ] and the team run the clinic, it's all about the children and the families. I've never seen anything quite like it in my experience, and I think it's only been in the new facility a couple of years now. So the way they designed the teams and the building is all connected to the way they place the art. It's all very thoughtful.
Gina: So you wanted to do something to support them.
Gina: Why did you want to support them, Amy?
Amy: Well, every time we have a featured artist in Art and Bloom Gallery, we sit down and we talk and we say, "Well, what are you passionate about? What is important to you in the community?" And so Brad introduced us to this pediatric specialty clinic and I'm just thrilled to be able to find out about it, to support it. And on our tour, we saw the children and their parents and their other family members there. And it's something extraordinary in our community. And I didn't even really know about it until Brad told me about it.
Gina: And Bradley, what ignited your passion about this location?
Bradley: I mean, you have your personal reasons, like with one of my children. But as a community, it's our responsibility to give back and support these different groups in our community because that community involvement—we need to support the community so it's there for us.
Gina: Did you have an experience at this place?
Bradley: Not at this place. We're originally from Richmond, Virginia, so we were with the children's hospital up there and the feeding clinics and things like that with one of our kids. And they're just fantastic. But this one, I mean, I'm a Wilmingtonian now, is that where we are? So it's important to support it, and I'm not sure how to describe how I feel about it, but it's just—it's our role and our duty as citizens of Wilmington to support it, because without that support it won't be here. And when you need it, that's when it kind of sucks if you don't have it here.
Gina: So it's our responsibility. You're saying that we won't have good things when we need it. It's not like you can do without it.
Bradley: Yes. It takes all of us, and once we understand that it takes all of us working together to support this community, then the community gets so much better, because then we have all the things that we need and it just works so much better. Sometimes we forget—because we get caught up in life, and we get caught up being, I guess, consumed with ourselves—we forget about everyone else around us. And you got to remember, because there's gonna be those times that you need that one person to lean on and if they're not there... So it's our turn to hopefully be there for them to lean on us. And if we can use this little platform to raise a couple of dollars, then that's what it is.
Gina: And raise awareness.
Gina: I mean that's the other thing, is that there's some dollars there, but it's also just raising awareness. I've never thought about this location before and now I'm thinking about it. Did you have a child who was sick?
Bradley: She wasn't sick. She just didn't like to eat. She's tiny and didn't want to eat, so then you're doing this stuff that a lot of the moms and dads out there know, like, here, eat this stick of butter, because it's full of calories. Or you're putting stuff in the bottle so they'll eat more and things like that. So you just learn by going into the feeding clinics and the children's hospitals that they really help.