David L. Bradley's "Fabrications" at Eye Lounge

David L. Bradley's "Luck Ran Out" at eye lounge.
David L. Bradley's "Luck Ran Out" at eye lounge.
Courtesy of the artist

Like many Phoenix Suns fans, David L. Bradley was a wee bit heartbroken when Steve Nash blew town last month. After all, the eye lounge artist is a longtime fan of the former all-star point guard for the Suns, who signed with the dreaded Los Angeles Lakers in early July after spending eight seasons trying to bring an NBA title to the Valley.

While Nash's exodus from Arizona means Bradley won't get to watch his favorite basketball players compete in purple and orange any longer, the situation did help inspire the title of one of a Suns-related art pieces he created for "Fabricated," his current show at eye lounge.

The work, which features a self-portrait of himself that Bradley painted on an orange Suns tee shirt bearing Nash's former jersey number, is entitled "Luck Ran Out." While it wasn't his intention to make the piece, which was created in April, a tribute to Nash's departure, its come to represent one of the many themes behind the work.

"It seemed fitting, considering that 13 is an unlucky number and that he ran out of opportunities to win a championship here in Phoenix," Bradley says. "I painted it before he left, but now its taken on a new significance since then."

The painted tee shirt, which Bradley owned for years and is considered to be one of the favorite possessions, is one of eight pieces in the show utilizing pieces from his wardrobe and from the racks at a local Goodwill that were used as canvases for "Fabricated."

By David L. Bradley.
By David L. Bradley.

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According to Bradley, each piece (which was adorned with a combination of acrylic paint and chalk pastels) plays that old notion of how "clothes make the man."

"When we put on a garment, we make a decision about how it will be appropriate for a certain occasion, how it will represent ourselves. We dress one way when we're going to work and another way when we're going to a bar," Bradley says.

It also explores the idea that humans seem to create their own particular reality based on the garments they wear, he says.

To wit: An old tee shirt from Super Bowl XLII features a slew of cars racing to get to the event, which he says explores the "idea of a competition where when we're in traffic, we're in a race and trying to best the other drivers," almost like the chariot races of ancient Rome.

"The ideas I'm playing with is about how we construct our landscape according to how we feel or how we want to create an environment," Bradley says. "Like a shopping mall is this artificial environment created in the desert. In that way we're dressing up an environment to suit our vision of ourselves."  

"Untitled" by David L. Bradley.
"Untitled" by David L. Bradley.

For instance, he altered one of his snazzier dress shirts with images of the friends and family that are most important in his life and the people he'd want to dress up for.

Bradley believes that his latest works also dovetails with the two other current exhibitions at eye lounge. Chris Pruitt's "Don't Be Ugly" in the East Gallery features installation pieces made from sewing patterns and clothing. Meanwhile, Christina Mesiti's "Let's Walk Without Searching" also mixed-media paintings utilizing non-traditional canvases in the form of cardboard, old maps, souvenirs, and other ephemera.

Bradley's clothing-based exhibit came about after he and other eye lounge members got the opportunity to participate in an exchange with the Agripas 12 Gallery in Jerusalem this fall. He realized that since his work was about to be shipped to the other side of the globe, his chosen medium of ceramics was going to take up too much space (as well as possibly being to fragile to survive the trek).

"I had to come up with a different format, something that didn't take up much space. So I came with the idea of using clothes as a canvas. The theme of the exchange is the desert, so I was thinking of a way of covering up our bodies in the same way that architecture has a way of covering up the desert."

"Fabricated" is on display at eye lounge through September 6. A First Friday reception will take place tonight from 6-10 p.m. Admission is free.

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