'Dove Bradshaw: Zero Space, Zero Time, Infinite Heat' now open at Arte Vallarta Museo in Puerto Vallarta

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'Dove Bradshaw: Zero Space, Zero Time, Infinite Heat' now open at Arte Vallarta Museo in Puerto Vallarta
Bradshaw “activating” one of her Indeterminacy Stones, a gift to the museum, at the exhibition which opened, March 2, 2024. Photograph courtesy of Dr. Paul.Promadhattvedi.

PUERTO VALLARTA.- Arte VallARTa Museo presented American contemporary artist Dove Bradshaw’s first Mexican exhibition Zero Space, Zero Time, Infinite Heat on March 2, 2024. The exhibit spanned over fifty years of Bradshaw’s career beginning with her Plain Air series, first begun as a performance piece at Boston College in 1969. Influenced greatly by Marcel Duchamp and the Dada Movement, the artist allowed two mourning doves to fly freely about her apartment/studio with a bicycle wheel attached to the ceiling and a Zen archer’s target placed on the floor below it.

Allowing randomness and chance to create the piece, Bradshaw would go on to repeat this performance many times over the span of her career saving the eggs, often broken during these events, and casting them in gold and silver to create a moment forever captured in time.

Bradshaw’s venture into dada-like happenings took on a more “guerilla-like” turn in the 1970’s when, on seeing a beautifully housed/framed and folded firehose in a stairwell at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, she declared that it itself was a piece of art and labeled it as an (a)claimed object. By affixing it with a label exactly like those used at the MET and then photographing it, she produced postcards of the firehose, putting them in the MET’s gift shop where they were sold, making the museum complicit in its inclusion as a work in its collection. Whether anyone at the museum knew or did not know is debatable, but over time they began producing and selling the cards themselves and have since put a label on the firehose themselves as an (a)claimed piece of art by Bradshaw. The decades long process of this happening is aptly named Performance.

By the 1980’s Bradshaw was establishing herself in the art world and had become close friends with the musician John Cage who shared her passion with acts of randomness and chance, and eventually she and her late husband, the artist William Anastasi (1933-1923), took over as artistic directors of Cage’s partner’s, Merce Cunningham’s, Dance Company. As her artistic circle grew, so did her artistic creativity and during the 80’s she embarked on a series of paintings she called her Contingency Works. It is through these works she took up a challenge artist Robert Rauschenberg is said to have made offhandedly to John Cage that it was not possible to create a painting purely through chance. Her canvasses were prepared with materials that react with one another, like silver and liver of sulfur, and then often left outside to allow nature to finish them with a disinterested detachment and without her hand influencing their outcome. Some of these works could be massive and some could be quite small, but all were left up to randomness and chance in their creation. John Cage hung a series of these works behind his piano at one of his final concerts. Later in her career and spanning into the present, Bradshaw created a subsequent series of works called Guilty Marks that begins with the same process as her Contingency pieces, but acknowledges her “guilt” in lending her hand in their direction creating more vibrant, colorful, and textured work.

In the early 2000’s Bradshaw turned her attentions onto a series that involved triangular pieces hung on a wall but arranged with the throw of a die, another nod to her lifelong commitment of allowing randomness and chance to determine her work’s outcome. These Angles Works paintings would change and rotate every day with a new throw of the die creating a totally new presentation of themselves. Bradshaw would create a “score” not unlike a piece of sheet music that would write itself each day as the process evolved. The result would act, in her own words, “… as an ensemble or alone … these paintings [did] not only function as kinetic performances … as they “fly like kites” in their changing daily lineup, [but] once hung, they remain traditional, static art.”

The final part of the exhibit hearkens back to an earlier period in her career, but like much of her work, continues into the present. Bradshaw began working with the casings of bullets she’d collect at a local police station in NYC. The appearance of these used casings shot through human-like targets both horrified and inspired her to claim them and then rewrite their narrative giving birth to her Spent Bullet series. At first she would cast them in gold or silver, or simply leave them be, but transform them into beautiful pieces of jewelry and art to be worn on and enhance the body instead of ripping apart and destroying it. With the advent of better technology in the 21st century, she has been able to enlarge these spent bullet casings into sculptural sizes using 3D printers to create and redefine them as monuments of hope and beauty. Today, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has one of these spent bullet sculptures in his Washington DC office with a moniker that says, “Make Art, Not War.”

Bradshaw continues to show all over the world with exhibitions upcoming in Germany and New York City, and with representation now through Galeria Mascota in Mexico City and this exhibition at Arte VallArta Museo, which runs through May 5, 2024, she should continue to keep her work at the forefront of the international art scene.

Arte VallARTa Museo
Richard Di Via, Curator

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