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  • Writer's pictureMarybeth Bradbury

I Can Only Do Me


I live in a beachy little town on the North Carolina Coast. It's caught somewhere between sleepy rural backwater and summer-home tourist destination. The nearest (small) city is Wilmington, which is also centered around its seaside culture. As you might expect, many local artists use the environment as subject matter and the art shows and galleries are filled with paintings of oyster shells, marsh birds, seascapes, and the occasional mermaid. There's a lot of very skilled realism around town. It's what sells here. Everyone wants beach themed art for their beach houses.

I, as you may imagine, am a bit of an outlier here and have been hesitant to enter some of what I consider to be my more "out there" work in local shows. Last week, though, I submitted The Eye of Ra to prestigious annual show I had not yet participated in, thinking that I just have to put what I really love to do out there and stop going at this with the low-ball aim of simply not being rejected for being too strange for local tastes. This piece is one of my favorites. I'm proud of it and I think it shows my style quite well. She took me over a year to complete, with several reworks over many months until I finally felt like I got it right. Though she didn't find the right person to take her home yet, she did win an Honorable Mention ribbon. I am very pleased and proud and glad I followed my gut (and my husband's urging) to put myself out there without turning down the volume. It's a bonus to know that what I love to do can give others some pleasure along the way.

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Karen Rita Bradbury
Karen Rita Bradbury
Aug 09, 2022

Turn up the volume! Take up space! Let your freak flag fly! You are amazing, talented, and you work really hard. Those seagulls and mermaids are "meh." Your art is the real deal. Stay strong.

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Marybeth Bradbury
Marybeth Bradbury
Aug 09, 2022
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Thanks so much for cheering me on! You know I appreciate you! MB

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