Bradford J. Williams
Sculptor Bradford J. Williams was raised in Eastern Colorado, a place bearing only a geographical relationship to the congested cities of modern American West. Williams’ childhood reality was images of flat, empty plains, howling cold winters, vivid sunsets flickering on distant peaks and the kind of sharp, clean air that sometimes hurts going down. Early experiences of cattle drives, county fairs, endless vistas, the small intimate gestures that bind a hardy people together, those are the foundation of Brad’s love for the cowboy and his way of life.
It was in Eastern Colorado that Brad found his medium: sculpture. Early in his career he worked in clay, the slick “gumbo” type so prevalent on the range. Little did Williams know that the small, rough images he fashioned out of prairie dirt as a child would provide the inspiration for a distinguished career as a bronze artist!
After serving in the military, Brad moved to Montana, where he pursued a variety of jobs including logging, ranch hand, horse-breaker, and saddle-maker. Like the cowboys from a distant time, Brad didn’t just visit the ‘great outdoors’ of his imagination, he occupied it, savoring the simplicity and quiet rhythms of a way of life that for most of us is long gone, yet resonates.
It has been said that a place isn’t a place until an artist defines it for us. The place that Brad Williams defines takes its cues from the life he reveres, “The fabric of ‘the Cowboy way’ has woven into it a number of philosophies such as, you take care of your livestock before you take care of yourself; your word is your bond; and a belief that brotherly love is not just something you read somewhere, but the act of reaching our to your neighbor. Through each sculpture I want people to feel what I feel about this way of life.”
Brad Williams’ sculptures are symbols of our need to believe that another world exists beyond that of our experience-a world that is more rich and true, a world where hard work, trust, decency, and strength without excuse aren’t just rumors, but fact. Two cowboys shaking hands over a fence, a faithful horse nibbling posies that a bashful young cowhand is about to present to his girl-Brad’s artwork is a tonic for the soul.
Remarkably, Brad is a self-taught artist. “ Each attempt at a bronzed sculpture brought me closer to that reality of a successful, self-sufficient artist. I remember many long nights of sculpting after working all day at something else. It is my sincerest wish that I could communicate through my sculpture the passion that I feel for the cowboy and the cowboy way of life. I want to leave a legacy for generations to come, one that exemplifies all the good things that this way of life has to offer.”