Don’t mean to stereotype, but he reminds one of an artist.
He was dressed in workout pants and a plaid shirt and seemed slightly distracted, as if he was only half listening or he was one of those people who think about so many things at once that they always seem spacey but are actually just a genius.
Come to find out, he was just short on sleep and had a lot happening in terms of finishing the installation of his exhibition so that it would be ready to open.
“Metal in Motion: A collection of works by Mark Scrapdaddy Bradford” is only the second solo exhibit of his career, but even before it is open, it seems to be his favorite.
“My dream was to have a setting like this,” he said of the Beeville display.
He is using both the outside yard that surrounds the Beeville Art Museum and all the rooms inside to display his eclectic collection of metal sculptures, art cars and motorized pieces.
Overzealous about his latest exhibition, Bradford even made some brand-new pieces that were just being finished as the loading trucks showed up last week.
“Most of this stuff is new, and I wanted to bring my best stuff,” he said, looking around the room in the museum. “I knew I had a lot of space to fill too.”
Bradford walks from room to room during the interview, looking at how his pieces were unpacked and displayed.
He seems impressed as he enters each room and stops to tell stories about how some of his favorite pieces came to be.
He hasn’t seen the pieces since they were packed on the truck in Houston a few days ago and with some of them being newly finished, he looks at them like he has never seen them before.
“A lot of my art represents living things, and I am like the father – or daddy – of each creature I make,” Bradford said.
Hence the name “Scrapdaddy”.
Not only does Bradford feel like a daddy to his pieces, he also names them and gives many of them eyes, making them even more lifelike.
Looking closely at some of sculptures, a heart or two can even be found in what could be considered the chest region of the pieces.
Bradford, who has been working as an artist for 25 years, literally uses scrap metal to make his creations.
The Houston native makes multiple trips a week to a local scrap yard.
“It’s only on the top of the pile for a few hours or a few days at best,” he said.
The material the sculptures are made out of can be anything; it all depends on what he finds at the scrap yard.
Great finds include thousands of metal spoons from an airline that was disposing of its silverware, copper roofing that was blown off during a storm and sheets of stainless steel.
The materials can sometimes dominate his creative process. For example, the spoon find led to two distinctive art car projects.
The first car used the bowl part of the spoons as scales on one of his creatures. For the second project, he welded the handles of the spoons together like a fan and then the fans were welded onto a frame to make scales for yet another creation.
He points to pictures on the wall of the two art cars he has just described.
The amount of time it takes to build one of his creatures varies greatly.
“Some pieces take 1,000 hours, and some pieces take just a couple of days,” he said. “You have to work with what you’ve got.”
Bradford took some classes on sculpture at Houston Community College, but much of his skill was self taught, including learning how hydraulic systems worked so he could make his creatures come to life even more with the introduction of movement.
Bradford said he works on multiple projects simultaneously, so if he gets stuff he can move onto something else, but he still has great appreciation for a deadline.
One of Bradford’s most prized pieces is “Mr. Green,” an art car that won the grand trophy at the 2012 Houston Art Car Parade.
“Mr. Green” is now in Beeville. He was brought to North Adams Street on the back of a flatbed truck, but when it came to getting the piece onto the grounds of the museum, a crane was needed. A nervous Bradford paced and yelled directions to the crane operation.
There was a moment when the piece was hanging suspended in the air and being swung over the fence when everyone was holding their breath.
Once the piece was set in the grass, relief could almost be heard coming from people. Bradford quickly got a ladder and mounted his piece, beginning to assemble it again.
The piece, now assembled, will come to life when Bradford does a live demonstration of Mr. Green’s abilities during the exhibit’s opening reception on Jan. 26 from noon until 2 p.m.
His work will be on display Jan. 26 through May 3 at the Beeville Art Museum.
Christina Rowland is the regional editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 119, or at regional@mySouTex.com.