The Orion

Artist couple paints in harmony

Veronica Hodur

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The Artists: Justin and Caleb. Photo credit: Shayla Ramos

In a town like Chico, art is everywhere and connections are always being formed. In this case, two Chico State alumni make a dynamic duo in their pieces and their marriage.

Looking at their artwork, Justin Cooper and Carob Bradlyn don’t seem to be connected.

Cooper uses oil paint and watercolor, and paints robotic figures in natural settings, while Bradlyn uses paint pens, resin and ceramics to recreate famous architecture and geometric patterns.

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One of Cooper's pieces. Photo credit: Shayla Ramos

Cooper’s artwork is influenced heavily by science fiction and technology. He imagines the future steps of evolution and how these new beings will interact with their surroundings.

“They’re creating,” Cooper said. “These things are going through their own discovery process like we did as children.”

Cooper was a business major at another school before starting at Chico State as an art major, and then changed his major to applied computer graphics which was a special major at the time.

His love of technology now incorporates itself into the artwork he creates now. He also works as a network analyst at the Chico school district.

Bradlyn’s work centers on people of influence and architecture.

She has tributes to people who inspire her, such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Renaissance artist Artemisi Gentileschi. All of her work is centered on her core values of peace, love and harmony, and much of her work has been donated to benefit non-profit charities, Bradley said.

She now also works at the new ceramic store All Fired Up.

Her work features worldwide architectural icons and bold colors to draw the eye, and nods to M. C. Escher’s tradition of optical illusion.

“I think science is an art. There needs to be that creative mind,” Bradlyn said. “I think scientists and artists both think outside the box and aren’t constrained by society norms.”

Cooper met Bradlyn when his sister finally got him to move to Chico. They dated for seven years before finally getting married in Las Vegas, turning the events into a performance art piece for a school field trip.

“People were studying Duchamp, and the whole Dada movement,” Bradlyn said. “To go, you had to do a performance art piece while you were there, so we dressed in crazy costumes and we got married and invited all of these art students.”

Since their marriage 14 years ago, they now have two children and their own studio Cooper built in their yard.

Though they are both devoted to the arts, their family comes first. Cooper uses Norman Rockwell as an example of how they like to balance their artwork with their family life.

“The guy spent most of his time in the studio, he was a machine,” Cooper said. “Absolutely phenomenal artist and a cultural icon. But there’s a price he paid. He had a houseful of kids who said ‘Our dad was never there, he was always in the studio.’ That’s not something that gets ignored. For me, art has to be honest. If I sacrificed my relationships for it I would feel like it would be a bad idea.”

Their family recently went through a difficult time with one of their children, which is why most of their pieces are older. However, now that the crisis has been solved they’re ready to begin creating again and getting back into the community.

“We’re getting back to the lab again,” Cooper said.

Their work, though different in approach and style, both reflect the same cultural ideals: the possibilities of tomorrow, the gentleness of discovery and the merging of the sciences and art into a brighter future.

Both Justin Cooper and Carob Bradlyn have Facebook pages and Weebly accounts where they sell phone skins and bags with their artwork featured. Their work is often featured in the Chico Art Center and their studio will be open for the ChiVAA ARTAbout on February 14th from 4 pm to 7pm.

Veronica Hodur can be reached at [email protected] or @VeronicaHodur on Twitter.

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Artist couple paints in harmony