“I have worked on all varieties of stones and responded to the differences each stone asked for in the way of treatment. But now I no longer work in all stones; I have chosen to express myself in limestone. Its natural gray color does not interfere with the forms. Often a pretty stone such as marble covers up bad forms because people don’t really look at the forms that respond to the veining of the crystals in the stone. Limestone, a rough, ragged stone, bears traces of the sea: sea animals are locked into and within the crystal structure. Limestone is American. The hills I was born in are made of this material, and it gives me pleasure to work in Texas limestone. It’s friendly, and it reminds me of my roots. Limestone has good tensile strength, allowing thin slab forms to be cut. It has the strength as well to withstand the noxious air of an urban city.”
Literary Nonfiction. Essay.
“Art galleries no longer show much carved stone sculpture which makes the show by Bradford Graves something of an anomaly. He wants it to say stone in the traditional sense, but he also tries to make it a vehicle for contemporary sculptural language. This results in work that looks a bit other worldly, as if it had dropped in from another planet....The sculptures look archaic, like archeological artifacts. On the other hand their abstraction is organic and totally contemporary which sets up a rather vigorous clash of sensations. ...Either way, it gets your attention.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Bradford Graves sustains the greatest amount of interest through his low-keyed and highly evocative works of profound originality....His work combines pallid, subtly textured rock with water that rests in a track-like indentation that runs down the length of limestone. The elements slowly fuse....In other works Graves evokes his haunting rhythms, stimulating quiet contemplation of his most unusual and visionary gems of sculpture.”
—Barbara Cavaliere, Arts Magazine
“The limestone carvings of Bradford Graves are a celebration of profound perplexity and mystery. They explain themselves neither quickly nor easily....Stimulating the exercise of imagination, the sculptures challenge to invent their own relevant meanings...these silent pieces of chiseled rock plumb the sublime. In their unique way they illuminate mystical depths...there is a growing coterie of admirers able to appreciate the majesty implicit in Graves’ language of form.”
—Burton Wasserman, Art Matters
Bradford Graves was born in Wheatland, Texas in 1939, and moved to New York City in 1958, where he studied at the School of Visual Arts, the American School of Visual Arts, and The New School, and worked as an assistant to the sculptor Alfred Van Loen, as well as for the NYC Parks Department and the Museum of Modern Art. He earned his BA and MA from Goddard College, and taught at Parsons School of Design and Fairleigh Dickinson University. Graves traveled extensively in Greece, Israel, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Spain, Iran, Afghanistan, Scotland, Senegal, Egypt, and Japan. In 1980, he was awarded an Artist's Fellowship in sculpture by the National Endowment for the Arts and created his Crossing the Plains sculpture for a rest area in Lincoln, Nebraska. and a Commission from the NYS Council on the Arts to create the first public sculpture on the NYS Thruway, at Schroon Lake. His work has been exhibited in both the United States and abroad. The Bradford Graves Sculpture Garden in Kerhonkson, NY is a major repository of his work. He played saxophone in a band called Vortex, which was voted One of the Best New Bands by CODA Magazine in 1982, and helped launch SOUNDSCAPE with his wife, Verna Gillis, and frequently collaborated with the poets John Taggart and Michael Heller. Bradford Graves died in New York City in 1998.
Verna Gillis was Brad's wife/partner for 34 years. After his death at the age of 58 she became his archivist. His work was what remained and gave her enormous solace.Together she and Brad traveled and recorded music which was released on Folkways Smithsonian Records. Verna had an active career as a music producer/manager. Since 2012 she has been writing and performing. Her one older woman's Tales From Geriassic Park - On the Verge of Extinction won Best Comedic Script at the United Solo Theatre Festival in 2014. Her niche is aging. And so is she!