Saved by the Light

by Janice Christensen

The gallery shines like a little jewel from the side of the red brick building on Center and Bremen, just around the corner from Fuel Cafe. Saved by the Light Gallery is chock full of glowing, multi-colored art; sculptures made of found objects and fiber optics; television sets playing videos of old commercials and educational films you might remember from grade school. Couches perch near the ceiling (“Sit up here–you get a great perspective. And that one’s perfect for meditation!”). Mrs. Jones, the 13-month-old store-front feline, lounges in the Puma Orange crate, projecting kitty love to all her Riverwest neighbors. Your guide is Bradley. (“…but I’m going to be changing my name soon…to Aloha Twist…”) Some remember him from the old Saved by the Light Gallery in Prospect Mall. Bradley refers to the “Fantastic Voyage” of walking through this smaller, distilled version of the gallery. “It’s heavily flavored by Brian Wilson’s song, ‘In My Room,'” Bradley explains. “If he could, this would be the room where Brian would want to hang out.” Bradley’s enthusiasm shows as he talks about his project. “Healing through art is the mission of the gallery, and to rescue broken objects and breathe new life into them. Everything wants to grow…a spoon, a chair…they all have potential.” The little figures assembled from doll heads and dinosaur bodies, clothed in scraps of silk–everything seems imbued with spirit, glowing with inner light. Watermelon Man. The Lollipop Lady who invented Lemonade. Treefrog. The Big Kahuna. Who are these characters, and why are they so compelling? These are the characters from the major myth emerging from the creative cauldron that powers Saved by the Light. This is The Show, a multi-media happening called “The Fantastic Adventures Of.” It can be presented as a slide and multi-media show, a story-telling session using an oversized flip book, or a full-scale costumed rock opera. Hang on, the fun’s just beginning. The story line, Bradley says, goes like this. “It’s the story about a fool who lost both parents in the Great Dust Bowl and was raised by chickens. He transforms himself from a fool into a hero by inventing a strange new device called a Happy Thought Box. This tiny vessel holds all your dreams and imaginings.” This, like all Bradley’s art, is medicine for the troubled mind. “It’s therapy,” he says. “Sit down. Relax. Enjoy.” It’s especially for the kids. Bradley plans to be open every Tuesday evening in September from 5 to 9 p.m. On Tuesday, Sept. 10, there will be a “gallery walk through” and a showing of “The Fantastic Adventures Of” for neighborhood kids and parents. Kids are invited to view the games, dolls and toys on display in the gallery. After that, Bradley plans CD release parties every month on full moon nights throughout the fall, with free CDs from his home-made label, Dustbin Records. A presentation of “The Fantastic Adventures Of” is tentatively set for the evening of October 4. A “Happy Thought Box” is included with the $5 price of admission. “Saved By the Light is like a big Happy Thought Box,” Bradley explains. “The smaller version is the whole experience, squeezed into a three-inch tin.” Enjoy the happy Hawaiian ambiance of Saved By the Light at 2713 N. Bremen St. Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 8 – September 2002