A Passion for Stone: The Sculptures of Bradford Graves at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art

SDMA curator Brian Wallace and guest writer Laura Welikson are available for interviews.  Call 845-257-3872

New Paltz, NY – The intriguing sculptures of Bradford Graves show a deep reverence for materials, resolving in a spiritual connection with the earth. Bradford Graves: Selected Works is now on exhibit through June 14 at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art located on the campus of the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Working with the generous cooperation of the artist’s estate, the museum has organized a selective exhibition of Graves’ large- and medium-scale sculptural works and several sets of his works on paper. 

During his lifetime, Kerhonkson, NY and New York City-based artist Bradford Graves produced numerous works of sculpture, both outdoor and indoor, along with drawings, illustrations, prints, and photographs.  Committed to a deep exploration of ancient cultures while expressing a powerful connection to nature and his immediate surroundings, Graves produced a body of work that combined modernist geometries, a sophisticated visual humor, and complex references to myth, the land, and the body.

Graves’ This Mirror Can Crack Stone series – large limestone works; smaller bronzes; an early clay study – meld ancient awareness and acute psychological subtleties.  The iconography of his Loud in the Blood works mingle the ethereal and abstract with a physical, biological reality. The series attests to Graves’ ability to sustain deep contradictions in his work: the limestone sculptures and drawings refer, simultaneously, to anthropomorphized beasts and to magnified views of the human circulatory system.  The other sculptural works in the exhibition are explorations of the properties of stone, metal, and other materials, they are coded self-portraits overlaid with set of references of great importance to the artist, and they are clever yet thoughtful studies of movement and form.

The drawings in the exhibition show the range of Graves’ interests and approaches.  Drawings and sketches of birds from early in his career are, variously, cheery, ominous, geometric, cartoon-like, and out-and-out political.  All of Graves’ works show a fundamental interest in synthesizing opposing elements while taking great care to maintain the fine distinctions between them.

Bradford Graves was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1980.  He had numerous exhibitions in museums, galleries, and sculpture parks in, among other locations, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Rutgers, Princeton, Woodstock and New York City as well as Scotland, Haiti, and Yugoslavia.  He was well known in the region and beyond as an energetic collaborator with creative people active in the field of ethnomusicology, archaeology, experimental jazz and sound art, poetry and spoken-word performance.

Related Events at the museum – free admission

Gallery Talk with writer Laura Welikson

Saturday, April 25 at 3:00 p.m.

Docent-Guided Tours of Bradford Graves: Selected Works

Sundays – April 5, 19, 26 from 2-3:00 p.m.

About the SDMA

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art is dedicated to collecting, researching, interpreting, and exhibiting works of art from diverse cultures.  The permanent collection spans a period of almost 4,000 years. Areas of specialization include 20th century paintings and works on paper, Asian and Pre-Columbian art and artifacts, metals and photographs. SDMA has a special commitment to collecting and exhibiting important works of art created by artists who have lived and worked in the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions.  The Museum is a major cultural resource in the Hudson Valley serving a broad-based constituency from both on and beyond the New Paltz campus.

Museum info

Hours:  Tuesday – Friday, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Saturday & Sunday, 1-5:00 p.m.

Admission is free




Wheelchair accessible