Martha Jane Bradford, 71, of Pumpkin Cove Road in New Harbor, Maine, died Wednesday, March 21 after a long illness and complications from a fatal infection. Her husband was at her side at the Central Maine Medical Center.
Friends and colleagues in both the real art world and in the cyber art scene of virtual reality would know that Martha would never accept the customary biographical chronicle by way of memorial. As she often remarked, "if you want facts about me, use Google or my website (www.marthavista.com). Her preference was always a retelling of the principles reflected in her drawings, paintings, fine art prints and virtual immersive art. These are her words, collated from exhibition catalogs, gallery talks and notes to her collectors:
"I love the ocean. And finally I live in Maine on the edge of Muscongus Bay, a place I have loved since I first came at age 2. Good kayaking put-ins abound, but even more importantly I am now living year round in the scenery that has inspired most of my art."
"I started drawing and painting watercolors before I started school. My parents didn’t think art was a good career choice, so I was an English major in college. After college, I went into the editorial side of publishing. Living briefly in New York, I stumbled across art galleries on weekends and had the revelation of my life. All artists weren’t dead!"
"By 1980 I had a studio at the Boston Center for the Arts. During Artweek that year, Meredyth Moses of Clark Gallery stopped by. She held up a 22 x 30” black-and-white landscape and said if I would do five large-scale drawings like it, she would give me a show and would sell every piece. I did, and she did. I was with Clark Gallery for the next 30 years. In 1985 I won a Massachusetts Artist Fellowship. We placed work in museum, corporate, and private collections all over the country."
"What characterizes me as an artist? First of all, I would have to say that I love exploring media. I have done, chronologically, graphite, watercolor, acrylic, ink, linoleum cut, silkscreen, lithography, charcoal, oil, acrylic again, pastel, both rubbed and impasto, and etching, both zinc and solarplate. The look of the land, the sea, and the sky have always been my consistent interest. The subjects of my landscapes are ordinary scenes transformed by light in a way that suggests a spiritual narrative. My photorealistic style aims to recreate the details of my experiences of this numinous quality of the phenomenal world in order to share the experiences as completely as possible with the viewer. Maine has always been a major source of subject matter, but I also have found material in the Boston area's waterways and when traveling, especially in California and Arizona."
"In 1992 I found the medium of my life. My husband bought a program called Fractal Design Painter. At first I used it just to prototype ideas for paintings, but after I got a Wacom tablet and stylus, I began to really draw with it. It took me till 1998 to gain enough command to produce my first signed and editioned digital drawing, and this has been my main medium ever since."
"Without the digital image-making capacity, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the last 12 years of also being a relatively well-known virtual artist, Alizarin Goldflake. First in Second Life and now also on another virtual platform called InWorldz, I make immersive art installations, kinetic art, and virtual copies of my real-life 2-D art. A sister avatar, Pixels Sideways, characterized these as an easily recognizable, unique style that often used a monochromatic color scheme, animated textures and whimsical integrated animations to create ethereal immersive installations."
"Talk about a long, strange trip."
Martha's parents, Mary Jane (Claflin) Bradford and Robert W. Bradford of North Whitefield, Maine, predeceased her.
She is survived by her husband, Alfred M. Ajami of New Harbor, Maine; two brothers, R. Verne Bradford and his wife Martha P. Bradford of Winchester, Massachusetts, and John W. Bradford and his partner Laurette A. Crane of Warwick, Massachusetts; two Cairn terriers, Winston and Churchill; and her avatar, Alizarin Goldflake, who now resides in the electrosphere.
A commemorative celebration is planned for later this summer, when the gardens seen from her studio are in full bloom. Arrangements are under the direction and care of the Strong-Hancock Funeral Home, 612 Main Street, Damariscotta, ME 04543. Condolences, and messages for Martha's family, may be expressed by visiting: www.StrongHancock.com. In lieu of flowers or memorial candles, donations may be made in Martha’s name to the Open Medicine Foundation
A parting thought. The two minute video loop shown below covers many of Martha’s real and virtual world art motifs, including signature gardenscapes and florals inspired by the Boston MFA’s Japanese Garden, Tenshin-en, The Garden of the Heart of Heaven. “Requiem for Fukushima Daiichi” from 2011 would now certainly serve as her own best farewell.