Artist Bradley Theodore brings his stripped-down, poignant pop art to the historic Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in West Palm Beach.
PORTRAIT BY CAPEHART
A quick glance at Bradley Theodore’s (bradleytheodore.com) vibrant multicolored paintings reveals something familiar. A recognizable figure, a scene you’ve seen before: Queen Elizabeth here, George Washington there, Jesus and his apostles at the Last Supper. Only there’s something new about them too. This time, they’re depicted in his signature style, conjuring the Mexican celebration Día de los Muertos honoring the dead—with pigmented skeletal structures in place of their usual facial features. Born in Turks and Caicos, raised in Miami and informed by the subcultures of the New York underground, Theodore reminds viewers, through each saturated stroke, not only of fame’s fleeting quality and false idol worship but also of our impermanence, to which no one is immune.
While the artist has enjoyed collaborations with the likes of Rolls-Royce, Moët & Chandon and Puma, to name a few, his latest endeavor brings him to West Palm Beach, as the artist-in-residence at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens (ansg.org) through the month of June, the gardens’ second residency to date. His exhibit, Bradley Theodore in the Garden of the Palms, features 25 pieces by the artist, including portraits of Palm Beach personalities he painted during his residency and, of course, sculpture.
Theodore depicted Iris Apfel and other Palm Beach personalities in the gardens. PORTRAIT BY CAPEHART
“Bradley’s work seemed fitting for the ANSG for a variety of reasons. For one thing, his childhood spent in the Turks and Caicos and Miami really spoke to the tropical feel of the gardens,” says Caroline Rafferty, an ANSG trustee and recent recipient of the Ann Norton Award for Philanthropy (presented to her upon the opening of Theodore’s exhibition). “Many of Bradley’s works are site specific, as were Ann Norton’s, and Bradley was immediately drawn to the gardens and Ann’s studio. You could see his creative wheels churning on his first visit.”
Rafferty chairs the Arts and Culture Committee of the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, which, together with the ANSG, created an interactive and immersive program for Title 1 elementary school students called Art, Music & Healthy Hearts. The education initiative invites students to explore the gardens, engage with visiting artists like Theodore as well as local musicians, and learn about healthy eating habits thanks to a partnership with the American Heart Association. Theodore’s residency is being sponsored by Artemest, the Italian artisan marketplace with which he’s collaborating on Murano glass creations for Milan Design Week.
ARTWORK PHOTOS BY GIANO CURRIE PHOTOGRAPHY
We asked Theodore about his collaboration with ANSG, the paintings and sculpture found on display there, and his messaging that humanizes icons worshiped by the masses. Here’s what he had to say.
Exploring Life and Mortality Through a Lens of Celebrity Culture
“While I was living in Paris, I really started to connect the past with the present when observing the architecture, museums and fashion scene. Considering the way royalty and people of stature lived in the past and present then gave me the idea to use the skull as a symbol that helps break the wall of vanity.”
Working With Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens
“I was first introduced to the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens through Nick Korniloff , of the Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary art show; the residency then came about as a result of a collaboration with designer Caroline Rafferty and Artemest, an incredible luxury design marketplace with whom I have a collaboration debuting this year at Salone del Mobile in Milan.”
“King Smiling in His Rose Garden.” ARTWORK PHOTOS BY GIANO CURRIE PHOTOGRAPHY
Bird’s-Eye View of the South Florida Art Scene
“I’ve found collectors in the area to be incredibly energized, and there’s no shortage of ambitious artists! I was thrilled to have my work be received the way it has been so far here since my clientele has traditionally been more Euro-centric.”
Sculpture as Canvas
“The ‘Two as One’ sculptures are a series I began developing a few years ago. They merge my skeletonized versions of Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld as an exploration of the duality between the male-female energy and the creative-curator dynamic. I decided to paint these large pieces for my exhibition with ANSG to infuse more energy into them and create a segue from the exhibition inside to the outdoor sculpture space. As part of my residency, I have also created an ongoing portrait series of Palm Beach personalities sitting inside the gardens, incorporating the many beautiful sculptures that are part of the permanent collection there into these so everything is connected.”