July 28, 2013

Bob Keyes: Shared sense of humor helps artist get her Bowdoin show

Katherine Bradford has shown her paintings in prestigious places, but always hoped to exhibit in the art museum near her summer home.

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Katherine Bradford's “Ship in Blue Harbor”

Courtesy of the artist, Aucocisco Galleries and Edward Thorp Gallery

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Katherine Bradford has a summer home in Brunswick near the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

Additional Photos Below


WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Through Sept. 1.

WHERE: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 245 Maine St., Brunswick


INFO: 725-3275; bowdoin.edu/art-museum

"Harbor" may be the most painterly piece of the bunch, showing a large ocean liner from the perspective of just below the bow. The ship sits high on the water, towering above like a beast. In the foreground, in front of the vessel, is a series of what appear to be small white lights arranged in a grid, surfacing from below the blue.

Whatever they are, they are. I read them as phosphorescence, which night swimmers often encounter in the ocean. Regardless, the white lights set the ocean aglow and give Bradford's painting an otherworldly feel. It is a beautiful painting, rich in texture and deep in tone. It would look great in any museum.

Bradford has long been associated with the Maine art scene, and stands today as one of the state's most successful and revered contemporary painters. Some have argued that her creative lineage descends from the great Maine modernists Marsden Hartley and John Marin.

Bradford spends summers in Brunswick. The rest of the year she is in New York – Brooklyn, to be precise. This summer, she is busy preparing for a gallery show in New York in September.

And while she is not basking, she certainly is pleased with the attention the Bowdoin museum is giving her.

At the opening a few weeks ago, she was particularly happy that two of her four young grandchildren were able to attend. They had fun seeing their grandmother in her element, and perhaps wondered if the roles were reversed. Maybe it was they who were grown up, and it was Bradford acting with childlike glee.

As she reflected on her life and career, the painter allowed that her dreams are coming true. Some of them, anyway.

What else does she dream?

"I would like to be the kind of artist who can do excellent work and is still well-regarded by her children and friends," she said. "I don't want to be a monster artist."

Unless monsters are given to humor, she can count that as a dream come true as well.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:


Twitter: pphkeyes


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Additional Photos

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“Night Divers” by Katherine Bradford

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“Titanic Orange Sea”


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