David L. Bradley's "Vox Pupuli/Memento Mori" at Eye Lounge

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You'll see some famous faces if you visit Eye Lounge on Friday, September 16. You could even tell Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio off to his face, and not worry about retribution.

That's because Arpaio's head -- along with those of Sarah Palin, John McCain, Tiger Woods, Kim Kardashian, and Wolf Blitzer -- is sculpted from clay and sitting on a pedestal in artist David L. Bradley's Vox Pupuli/Memento Mori exhibit.

The exhibit explores the idea of celebrity, specifically, the public's fascination with famous figures. "Why do we do this? Why do we put these people on a pedestal?" Bradley asks. "We tend to admire people who present aspects of our own character that we admire. Others represent something to revile, because of what we revile in ourselves."

Bradley's clay sculptures are caricatures, and each contains both exaggerated features and tiny details that say something about each celebrity.

The Kim Kardashian bust has monstrously huge lips and breasts (and four layers of eyelashes), and she's holding up a sparkling white mirror to her face (the mirror matches her gown perfectly).

The John McCain sculpture is clutching a wad of money in his right hand. Wolf Blitzer's holding a piece of paper. Arpaio's facial expression looks (not surprisingly) surly and confused. Each sculpture has a full head of synthetic hair.

Vox Pupuli/Memento Mori is Bradley's first exhibit at Eye Lounge, and he's been working on the sculptures since May. Bradley, who also teaches drawing and ceramics at Paradise Valley Community College, says this show is a big departure from his usual work. He's done pottery for years, but always with the traditional tools: clay, glaze, and a kiln.

This time, he's incorporated things like acrylic paint, colored sand, and wigs.

"There are no limits. It's okay to use other materials besides kilns and glazes," he says. "I really wanted to take advantage of commonly available materials."

Bradley's original concept for the show was general figures to represent the topic of celebrity. But he decided in June that the figures needed to be of real people.

"These people are so well-known and fit the concept of someone who becomes well-known for an activity or an incident...but then the fame becomes its own thing, and they become like somebody else," Bradley says. "They expect to be treated differently. It's a whole separate class in our culture."

"A way to frame the show is to make a connection between these people and gods," Bradley continues. "Every culture has gods that represent the positive and negative."

Kim Kardashian is Circe, Greek siren and minor goddess of magic. Sarah Palin represents Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt. John McCain is Ares, Greek god of war, while Tiger Woods is Hermes, god of speed and sport. Wolf Blitzer is The Oracle, Bradley says, because "he's the bearer of bad news."

And Arpaio? He's Hades, of course. "God of the underworld, who delights in the torment of souls for eternity," Bradley says.

Vox Pupuli/Memento Mori opens at 6 p.m. Friday, September 16, and continues through October 15 at Eye Lounge, 419 E. Roosevelt Street. Call 602-430-1490 or visit www.eyelounge.com for more information.

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