This exhibition celebrates David Bradley’s 2007 painting O’Keeffe After Whistler by framing it with the artwork by Georgia O’Keeffe to demonstrate his specific and nuanced understanding of O’Keeffe’s life and work. Since early in his career, O’Keeffe has made frequent appearances in his paintings. Bradley often visualizes O’Keeffe in front of her easel, alone in her studio or within the storied landscapes of her artwork. But she is also represented in many of his genre paintings, always as the iconic figure dressed in black, usually wearing her signature OK pin created for her by Alexander Calder. Bradley often honors O’Keeffe by placing her at the front of group portraits that bring together characters from art history and popular culture who consort with recognizable locals. Just as often Bradley pairs her in unlikely situations with other artists such as her husband and modernist photographer Alfred Stieglitz (American Gothic: O’Keeffe and Stieglitz Meet Tonto and the Lone Ranger, 2000) or Navajo painter R.C. Gorman (Abiquiu Afternoon, 1984). After more than 30 years, Bradley no longer remembers how many times he has pictured her in his artwork.
David Bradley is an Anishinaabe artist, a registered citizen of the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. However, he has been a resident of Santa Fe since he came to study at the Institute of American Indian Art in 1977. He is a participant observer in the art community of his chosen home. Though he is also a sculptor and abstract painter, he is most famous for narrative paintings that reveal his knowledge of the ancient and the new within the very commercialized tourist center of Santa Fe. Bradley is a master story teller in the tradition of the Ashinaabe trickster Naanabozho; guided by his astute powers of observation and a keen sense of irony he creates vividly detailed paintings of delight and wonder.
This exhibition coincides with Indian Country: The Art of David Bradley, a retrospective at Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, curated by Valerie K. Verzuh. If you look closely, you will find O’Keeffe in four of paintings on view.