Written by Leah Garchik for SF Chronicle:
Five years ago, East Bay artist Donald Bradford was driving his truck across the Bay Bridge, delivering a bunch of his paintings to be shown in an exhibition at the Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco, when a strong wind blew four of them into the bay. The paintings focused on love, marriage and Proposition 8.
Bradford’s latest show, “Prayer Paintings,” opened at the same gallery on Wednesday, June 13. Two weeks ago, he received an email from Carey Bell, a stranger living in Kansas. Several months after the painting, “Wedding Gown,” had gone for a swim, Carey found it floating near the shore of Alameda.
He’d been working as a subcontractor for a Navy project at the Alameda Naval Base, wrote Carey, inspecting an area on the north side of the base to make sure that radiation had not escaped a controlled zone. The shoreline there “was fortified by rocks,” he emailed, and it was low tide when he saw “a painting that was resting on the rocks but being rocked by the waves. ... It was cluttered with seaweed and sand along the frame. I pulled it out and set it in the sun to dry.”
He tried to locate Bradford at the time but was unsuccessful. So he took the work off the stretcher bars, rolled it up and stored it in a locker in Kansas. Five years went by, and then Bell made another stab at finding the painter. This time he was successful.
“It seems amazing,” emails Bradford, “that this has happened just as my new work is about to be transported for my next show at the gallery. This time in a rented enclosed van.”