My definition of Art? ‘Art is when the physical is transformed into the spiritual’ I work hard to have my Art make a positive difference in the quality of the lives it touches.”
W Bradley Elsberry is an Artist and Designer who for the past 13 years has been exhibiting his work in Laguna Beach CA. Most people know his work from the Festival of Arts out front of the Pageant of the masters every summer. Prior to showing his fine Art he designed costumes and sets for dozens of productions around Southern California. Being a singer and dancer in his youth, he sometimes appears on the boards as well. While working as an interior designer he filled many nightclubs, restaurants and homes with his artistry. Often these included large murals and sculptures of his own creation. This spring while preparing for the Festival of Arts he was also hired to paint for the Pageant of the Masters, His first day to be on site painting their recreations of great Art was the day California shut down. It is expected the Pageant and it’s corresponding 87-year-old Art Festival will not go on for the first time since WW2.
His definition of Art? “Art is when the physical is transformed into the spiritual” he works to have his Art make a positive difference in the quality of the lives it touches.
His largest public work is the Irvine Transportation Center’s fifty-foot-wide Irvine, Voyages and transitions historical mural in the Irvine Transportation center.
T2C: How are you dealing with home containment in California?
W Bradley Elsberry: Living out in the provinces, as I consider my Irvine housing tract in Orange County CA to be, has many advantages during home confinement. I do have two housemates that share my home with me, and we have plenty of space. For now, it is just us, and our dogs, and the many different birds that visit or nest here. These include wild parrots that show up to eat my lovely, but tasty? Magnolia Blossoms.
T2C: What would you say is the difference of being in self lockdown between NY and California?
W Bradley Elsberry: I have a pool, with water still too cold for me in April. We have been getting exercise by re-landscaping parts of the property. Adding new gardens while cutting down on lawn size allows me to be creative and be out in nature planting flowers and blooming shrubs. It seems an act of faith to get the bulbs, or small young plants, in the soil while looking to a future when they are big and beautiful. And counting on the good times when we can share them with family and friends. In New York you don’t have this luxury.
The gardening is also a comforting distraction from the outside world and the other creative endeavors I was working on that have ground to a standstill. It is also avoidance behavior that keeps me from some projects I tell myself I will never find time to do. Deep cleaning, old unfinished Artworks, doing my own taxes, in fact any kind of paperwork. Although the garage/workspace did get a thorough cleaning and reorganizing. When this all is over and we are back to our busy full lives how many of us will think, “Oh, I should have gotten that done back when I had all that time on my hands”
T2C: What have you been able to accomplish in this time?
W Bradley Elsberry: Finding motivation to accomplish difficult tasks in these stress filled times does not come easy for me. It is far easier to escape into too much good food and good TV. I can re-watch favorite musicals, or binge historical dramas and sci-fi otherworldly experiences.
T2C: What has this time stopped you from accomplishing?
W Bradley Elsberry: My first full time job working as team member with the artists creating the Pageant of the Masters was canceled the day it started. That was the first time in 10 years I had agreed to work for some one else instead of on my own. And I needed that income.
T2C: What kind of emotions does this time bringing out of you?
W Bradley Elsberry: There was one moment when I realized how buried and compartmentalized my emotional reactions to the pandemic are was this… Just watching Stephen Schwartz opening the Sondheim Birthday tribute this week, playing music on his piano at home, that Sondheim wrote for Follies had me full on crying with tears all the way down to my shirt collar. Really why? “Looking for people out strolling on Sunday” or remembering that “No one is alone” hit exactly the right notes now.
T2C: If you were to equate this time to a song or song cycle what would it be?
W Bradley Elsberry: Many showtunes, I listen to musical theater almost to the execution of other music, to lift my mood and fill me with motivation. I remember to say “Yes” thanks to Kander and Ebb, and Liza. “We Dance” to Secret Garden” and I can find myself “Feeling Good” and then big picture it all when I get into “The Circle of Life” and on and on while this “World goes Round”.
The one song that I can relate this whole sad mess to, is “The World Goes Round” I learned it from Liza but lately I listen to Tami Tappan Damiano belting it out on her Hot Notes album. That whole album works for me during this time.
T2C: What message would you like to give the world right now?
W Bradley Elsberry: Ask yourself if your actions are of any benefit to others. Love one another, be kind and be gentle with yourself and those you are “almost” coming in contact with.
T2C: What is the first thing you will do when we are no longer self quarantined?
W Bradley Elsberry: The first act of returning to normal life for me will be visiting friends and family and giving them all big hugs. And I am most of all I think, looking forward to a world where I know thousands of people will be crowding together in theatres around the world, spending too much money no doubt, but filled with the anticipation of watching, and the literal need to experience, living musical Art! And I will be one of them.
T2C: What are the things that are getting you through this time?
W Bradley Elsberry: There is an old story I love that reminds us “in every curse there is a blessing” I look for beauty and love, and I find them in the world around me and in the people that are choosing to be part of the solution, not the problem.
T2C: What haven’t we asked you that you would like to say?
W Bradley Elsberry: I have been trying something new and unique with my artwork. My contoured images are not only different from my traditional paintings, but are unlike anything I have seen from another artist. Find a unique vision of your own to share with the world. Also look at mine by going to the Contoured Images of W Bradley Elsberry on Facebook.