Last weekend WHQR’s MC Erny Gallery opened their new art show “Moments of Our Past,” which showcases the works of two very different artists: Bradley Carter, an abstract-expressionist painter, and Jason Parker, a graffiti artist. Though the two never met before, WHQR’s pairing puts forth a modern display.
“The title for the show came by looking at our work and understanding the journey we are both on,” Carter tells. Carter—who received his BA in fine arts from Virginia Commonwealth University—says the matchup really allows viewers a glimpse into the history of each artist, more so how their nontraditional methods lead them to create.
“It’s very contemporary and unique,” Carter tells. “Visually, the color schemes and similarities in Jason’s graffiti writing and the black lyrical lines in mine help tie the work together. I think we are both extremely passionate and the power it holds in expressing moments of our lives.”
Carter’s foray into the world of art began at a very young age. He always felt the pull to visual arts, music, dance, and writing. Like many, he allowed the outlets to empower him from his normally shy nature.
“Art became more and more powerful for me through school,” he says. The artist works in acrylic mostly because of its easy manipulation. “I also use a paint skins process for more of my conceptual work, which is an interesting study and based more on theory of the understood in art,” Bradley tells.
He creates by building upon layers of paint, applied through scrapers to create texture. The color connections and lines help dictate harmony of movement across the surface. “It’s texture/scars, splashes of color, the elegance of the black lines that just float on the canvas,” he details. Standing up close and then far away will change perception. Carter wants that evolution to occur, more so for the viewer.
“The idea of just like you and me, there is more to this than what I first noticed on the surface,” he says. “There’s a history to it, a journey that, if you take the moment, will reveal itself, [then] the connections become so much more powerful. “
Carter’s passion for abstract strives on the idea that each person’s view on art is a personal experience. It’s less about what he’s emoting during its creation and more about what viewers impart from it. Carter compares the relationship between viewer and art to that of defining love—almost impossible.
“It is what it is, and unique to every individual because of their interpretation of the world, which is based on their experiences, emotions and beliefs,” he says. “You need to let who you are reflect upon the art and have your own personal experience. By me saying this is what I see, I’m robbing you of the experience to connect with the work.”
However, the artist is not mum on reflecting on inspiration. Whether triggered by moments of experiencing a first rain or the taste of orange soda during a summer vacation, he translates their power of feeling. “They’re personal moments that make us who we are as individuals,” Carter notes. It takes Carter back to when he first watched his grandmother paint during childhood. Revealing himself as “one of those kids that would put the thermometer on the light bulb to pretend [to be] sick,” he spent countless days watching her paint birds. “She was much more of an impressionist painter,” Carter tells. “It opened my eyes to what can be captured or told through art.”
Today his journey has brought him to full-time artist status. He left his job last year to embark on a journey he’s been painting for the last 20.
“My challenges in art are just like any other artist,” he says. “There are so many talented people in this world but, because of life and the challenges it presents, we must put on hold or forego the possibility of creating in order to provide for family. I think for every Picasso or Pollock, there were 100 more that never had the opportunity to show what they could have been. It is because of this I am so grateful for every opportunity that has come, and every time a piece of my work is purchased, it is a humbling experience.”
Just recently, he saw his work screened on TV for ABC’s locally filmed “Secrets and Lies.” While the commission and exposure was fulfilling, the recognition he saw from his peers last year, as part of the 15th annual Landfall Art Show, remains more important. He won in the abstract category. As well, he was featured internationally in a publication out of Istanbul, Turkey. He has hung art in group shows at Cameron Art Museum (State of Art/Art of the State) and Art in the Arboretum, as well as in Figments Gallery, Eclipse at Blue Moon Gallery and Every Good Thing Artisan Gallery. The current show at MC Erny Gallery will feature 95 percent of work he has never shown.
“We have about 60 paintings between Jason and I,” he explains. “A couple of my favorite pieces in the show are ‘Something Told Me It Was Over’ and ‘If You Would Just Let Them.’ Both were finished within a week of installing the show.”
“Moments of Our Past” will hang at MC Erny through May 8, with a closing reception on Friday, April 24, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“My goals are simple: I just want to create. It’s what I must do. It’s how I interact with the world. This is my process for experiencing the world, digesting the world, and then letting go of the world. If I can have an impact on someone, make them smile then I will take it.”
Moments of Our Past
WHQR’s MC Erny Gallery
254 N. Front Street
Through May 8; Mon-Fri, 10am – 4pm
Closing reception April 24