Celebrating songs through art
What: "For the Goddamn Love of Classic Country" reception
Where: The Racket, 1220 N. State St.
WHEN: 6pm-11:30pm Fri., May 3
Wednesday, May 1, 2019
If forced to decide, Bradley James Lockhart would choose to spend an evening out on the town with Waylon Jennings rather than Willie Nelson.
“I’ve got nothing but love for Willie, but that’s because he has always taken it pretty easy,” the graphic designer, animator and musician says. “Not Waylon, he lived fast and hard.”
The topic of the two music icons—one dead, one living—is related to Lockhart’s art exhibit opening Fri., May 3 at at the Racket Bar and Pinball Lounge. “For the Goddamn Love of Classic Country” will feature a series of embroidered patches, stickers, enamel pins and hats incorporating song titles inspired by some of country music’s greatest stars, including Dolly Parton (“Jolene”), Tammy Wynette (“Stand By Your Man), Blaze Foley (“If I Could Only Fly”), Townes Van Zandt (“I’ll Be Here in the Morning”), Gene Autrey (“Back in the Saddle Again”), and more. The designs will be also on display in the exhibit as large wooden signs created with the help of two local skateboard companies, Aeon Skates and Blue Collar Skateboards.
“I really wanted to do right by these songs,” Lockhart says, noting he was originally inspired to create the logos by not being able to find a Townes Van Zandt patch for a jacket. The ones he came across were underwhelming, so he started sketching out a few ideas that were more true to the song’s imagery and style. He applied the process to a number of other country classic faves, and a creative collection came together (see them all at http://www.countrymusicpatches.com).
“I wanted to celebrate the world of the song, not just the singer or songwriter,” Lockhart says of the simple-yet-effective designs. That’s why—and for legal reasons—I don’t use any of the artists’ names or faces. The lyrics are the hero.”
While the event introducing “For the Goddamn Love of Classic County” is an adults-only affair, much of what Lockhart designs at LARIAT Creative is inclusive of all ages, including the ubiquitous Bellingham flag. First raised in March of 2016 after Lockhart won an unofficial contest hosted by the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, the green, white and blue flag incorporating elements of Bellingham Bay, the Coast Salish people, Whatcom Falls, and the four original towns of the city has since been officially adopted by the City of Bellingham.
In the two years since the flag was raised, Lockhart says he has been living a nomadic existence, sleeping on leaky boats and in spare bedrooms between Bellingham and Seattle and spending plenty of late nights in his office and band practice studio. When he’s in town and sees the flag being displayed by local businesses or in the windows of people’s homes or dorm rooms, he’s stoked.
“When I see a sticker on a car or a flag on a porch there’s a natural little connection made between me and that person without them even knowing it,” he says.
Although in the near future Lockhart hopes to hunker down in Bellingham for the long haul, wherever he lands it’s a given that he’ll continue to feed his creative impulses, whether it’s via country music designs, flags, poster art, custom illustrations or sharing his worldviews with students—something he did at a recent SPA talk at St. Paul’s Academy.
When asked what advice he gives to kids about following their artistic dreams, Lockhart says he tells them to make what they want to exist.
“Listen to your teachers, follow assignments, and take the time to learn technique,” he adds. “But as soon as you are home on your own time, make exactly what you want to make. Play the kind of music you want to hear. Draw the kind of cartoons you want to watch. Design the kind of flags you want to wave. Be the patches you want to see in the world. Make what you want to make, and others will be drawn to it.”
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