The rainclouds looming over SprATX last Saturday cleared away just in time to welcome an exciting evening filled with stunning creativity, dazzling culture and savory craft cocktails. The event was New Amsterdam Spirits‘ own “It’s your Town“, which highlights seven of the most influential cities across the country by collaborating with one hand-picked local artist in each city to create an original collection that captures the essence of the town and concocting one locally-inspired specialty craft cocktail to go along.
Here in Austin, the artist was local street phenomenon Bradford Maxfield, of Estudio Bradlio, and the drink was the Austin-inspired “Green Belt”, a salty-sweet refreshing New Amsterdam Vodka mix with Juiceland punch and topo chico in a chili powder-rimmed cup. The Green Belt was cool, unique and undeniably hipster, the perfect accompaniment to the unveiling of Brad Maxfield and New Amsterdam Vodka’s one-of-a-kind artistic collaboration: “The Spirit of Austin”.
Manifested in seven original art pieces, “The Spirit of Austin” offers a unique insight into the city through the artistic lens of artist Brad Maxfield. The collection, created in three months, embodies the heart and soul of the city itself, drawing inspiration from places like South Congress street, Moontower Saloon and Ladybird Lake.
Brad’s El Paso roots and colorful experiences in Austin are exquisitely portrayed in the seven vibrant, three-dimensional pieces on display at SprATX. Fusing classic Americana and folk art with Brad’s own post-modernist, graphic style, the Austin-inspired collection is visually intriguing, multi-textural and full of fascinating facets and angles, just like our beloved city.
The piece de resistance is a stunning wall mural outside SprATX that reads “Create your Austin” and was created by Bradford Maxfield in five days with the help of local artists Christin Atkinson, Kristin Freeman, Benny Beyer and Cameron Zionts. The mural mixes elements of traditional Hispanic culture and Tala Vera design with graffiti and outsider art to reflect the multi-cultural melting pot that is Austin.
Since Brad was chosen to represent Austin in the “It’s your Town” campaign, he wanted to showcase the unique cultural elements of the city that set it apart from the rest. His first flash of inspiration came in the form of his “Welcome to South Congress” piece, an homage to the car culture in Austin, which he credits as being the creative catalyst for the whole project. “I love car culture and the Lonestar Roundup weekend is one of my favorites in Austin”.
Using real materials from Croix’s metal shop to create a stunning rat rod-theme, “Welcome to South Congress” is a retro metal art piece that is reminiscent of downtown’s iconic Continental Club and represents the heart of Brad’s collection. “I really loved how serendipitously it all came together… I think that in the end of it all, I was really happy about that most of all.”
The rest of the “Spirit of Austin” collection uses similarly unconventional mediums and methods to create a dizzyingly mesmerizing multi-dimensional display of color and lines that highlight all that is weird and great in our town.
“Aesthetically, I always want to give a positive message when it comes to public works. I want to make sure that people leave my work feeling happy and uplifted.”
Looking around at the vibrancy and life in each of the seven pieces in “The Spirit of Austin,” it’s easy to see that Brad has a true passion for what he does. As a self-taught, self-made artist, Brad believes people are born with various inherent abilities that allow them to express their individuality in their own way.
“I wanted to be an artist so I became one. It was a lot of work. the word ARTIST – means a kajillion things; I don’t think that I can ever find the end of that rabbit hole but its something that I’m willing to explore for the rest of my life.”
In Brad’s case, he uses his keen eye for shapes and colors to create visually appealing works of art that reflect his unique point of view. His main teachers throughout his artistic journey have been his colleagues and mentors as well as his own life experiences. After going to school for design at UT and working in advertising for ten years, Brad decided to pursue his artistic passion full time and has now been a freelance artist for almost 2 years. “After working with everyone, I can say that I have many families and that I’m so glad that I garnered all of the knowledge that I did.”
Brad loves to experiment with different techniques and mediums to explore the depths of his creativity and convey his positive message in a way that has never been seen before. His artistic style reflects both the beauty and complexity of human nature. Some of his favorite artists and biggest influences over the years have been classic artists like HR Geiger, Salvador Dali and Charles and Ray Eames as well as architect Frank Gehry and modern artists Shepard Fairey, Usugrow, Mike Giant and Jeremy Fish. Brad also enjoys collaborating with other local artists and sharing ideas to round out his artistic experiences. Some of his favorite locals: Briks and the Blue Dozen Collective, Mike Johnston (truth), Lucas Aoki and Jason Eatherly. For Brad, learning and practicing new artistic techniques has been a matter of trial and error, but he loves the freedom to be able to create anything he can imagine and “bring to life whatever ideas I see fire in.”
“I would like to explore my dark side. I think that I am a nice person, mainly living in light but I’ve surfed that line pretty hard my whole life.”
Now that Brad has finally finished the “Spirit of Austin” collection, he hopes to delve further into his creative psyche and use his art to “explore the other side”. Expect to see something a little darker from the artist, something a little more “death, drugs and rock n roll” as he takes his work to the next level. He has also recently been recruited to paint a children’s hospital at a mystery location TBA. You can catch Brad’s “Spirit of Austin” collection up at SprATX through September, and the larger than life Austin mural outside the gallery will remain up until the end of the year.