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Michael Bridges: The Crunch, The Twang, The Brushstroke

Michael Fraser Bridges, the besotted bread maker at Modica Market in Seaside, was born in Northport, Alabama, “I remember drawing as a social skill,” says Bridges, “I would sit down with one of my friends in kindergarten and we would create things on paper together.” Scuba divers with samurai swords dueling on an erupting volcano filled the pages from the world of his imaginings. Bridges found that drawing was always something that made him happy, “more so than playing outside or watching TV or reading books, drawing became my default activity. I would draw all day at school, I would draw at home, on the weekends, in between the lines, outside of the lines and pretty much anywhere my pencil could reach.”

Bridges would go on to take his first art lessons from Alon Wingard, whom he would later work with at Adams Antiques, refinishing vintage European furniture and restoring paintings. “We sat down in a courtyard and drew imaginary scorpions.” Wingard introduced Bridges to the concept and practice of light and shadow, which at the time were foreign concepts to him. “A lot of my work is sculptural, even if it is a drawing. I treat drawings as a surface for two physical objects to interact on- a pen and paper. I don’t want you to look at a painting or drawing or sculpture and suspend your disbelief. I want it to show you what it is, to show you that it is a flat object, to show you lines, and paint whatever is on or under it. Humor is important to me in this aspect. I make little jokes to myself on canvas, crossing lines, dotting lines, painting over the wrong part, lines coming out of places they shouldn’t be, borders that don’t matter etc.” Bridges learned and grew from other masters in art, “To this day, Bill Wattterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, is one of the most important artists that I draw inspiration from.”

Painting isn’t Michael Bridges’ only forte, he is also an accomplished breadmaker, and woodworker. Bridges has found an additional path to fulfillment as the bread maker at Modica Market. In college, he worked in the wood and metal shop helping students with their welding and blacksmithing projects. “During this time, one of my childhood friends was re-diagnosed with cancer and died very quickly. His mother sent an email out the morning he passed, which was very beautifully written and seemed to be important because she was accepting this great loss while truly admiring the person who was gone. I immediately began working on a piece for him. I took two very large sheets of steel and hand hammered the entire letter his mother wrote into the surface of the sheets of steel. I laid them on the floor in the gallery, and next to them I placed a loaf of bread that I baked for him.”

 

For the duration of the show, the loaf stayed on the ground until it almost completely rotted away. Bridges explains that the loaf of bread was his final gift to his friend in a way.  “It is one of the first times that I remember baking bread and it was important to me for three reasons:”

  1. Giving a piece of bread is an offering of companionship and love.
  2. There is a parallel between the break being consumed by rot, and the way that his friend passed away.
  3. The symbolism as the body of Christ in the Christian tradition

To complete his artistic repertoire, Bridges is a classically trained violinist. “When I was a kid, I hated the structure of classical training and I began to play bluegrass as I got older, which is still very structured, but as a musician it allowed me a lot more freedom.” From there he discovered older country and the blues, which became his passion for the recent chapters of his musical life. He is an avid record collector, and, living next to Central Square Records keeps his collection growing. “Honestly, I really just love playing music. It lets me use my hands to create different things. I have to use my hands, I’m a very tactile learner. I like to think that I’m always learning and I try to learn as much as I can.” Bridges loves  listening to music nearly as much as he enjoys playing it, “I think about the textures that music has in the same way I think about the surface of a painting, or wood burning, or the crust of a bread – the crunch, the twang, the brush stroke.” Says the painter, musician, breadmaker, “Also, I love Bob Ross.”

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