Watercolor Society of Oregon’s April show in Yachats includes work of 103-year-old Waldport artist

John Bradley, who took up painting 33 years ago when he was 70, is among about 150 members participating in the annual show and convention beginning April 5.

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John Bradley's watercolor "Painted Hills" earned him a spot in the finals for the Watercolor Society of Oregon's show in Yachats in April. The 103-year-old artist started painting when he was 70. Photo by: Cheryl Romano
John Bradley’s watercolor “Painted Hills” earned him a spot in the finals for the Watercolor Society of Oregon’s upcoming show in Yachats. Photo by: Cheryl Romano

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Watercolor Society of Oregon’s April show in Yachats includes work by 103-year-old artist” was published originally on March 28, 2024, by YachatsNews.com, an ArtsWatch Community Partner. ArtsWatch is republishing the piece with permission.

When an important art group stages its annual convention and exhibit in Yachats next week, it will feature the work of a notable artist from Waldport.

John Bradley is notable not just because his work Painted Hills made the final cut for the event, but because he’s been painting for 33 of his 103 years. Yes, he started at age 70 to express his inner artist, just because “I always wanted to.”

Having honed his style through classes and “a lot of workshops,” Bradley has the distinction of making the final cut several times in the Watercolor Society of Oregon’s annual show and convention.

This year’s juried event, titled 2024 Spring Experimental Exhibition, is bringing 80 works from artists across Oregon to Yachats April 5-11, filling the multipurpose room at the Commons. The opening reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, April 5, is open to all and includes light appetizers and a cash bar provided by Beach Daisy Wine.

The exhibit will hang in the Commons and be available for public viewing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 8-11. All the paintings will be for sale.

The exhibit coincides with the Watercolor Society’s annual three-day spring convention in Yachats, April 5-7. About 150 society members will gather for classes, meals, meetings, and awards, all of which will take place in the Commons and the Pavilion behind it.

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“I’m looking forward to it,” Bradley said of the show. Asked if he has any advice for other would-be or beginner artists, he offered, “The first year is the hardest, but stick with it.”

Bradley prefers the medium of watercolors to oils because “it doesn’t smell, and it’s easier to clean up.”

Born in Hawaii, he lived in France with his parents until the age of 7. After returning to the U.S., the family ultimately settled in Berkeley, Calif.  Bradley served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and it was through the Navy that he attended dental school.

Dentistry was his field until about 40 years ago, when he and his wife moved to Eugene, then Tidewater, and finally to Waldport. After his wife entered hospice care five years ago, Bradley’s son, Scott, moved in with him.

Today, Bradley’s work is displayed in many galleries in the area, and he has received numerous awards from the Watercolor Society of Oregon.

Bradley has belonged to the watercolor society for about 20 years. Formed in 1966, the group has a member list of some 500 artists and is considered one of the premier art societies of its kind in the country.

“We are not exclusively for watercolor artists, as we embrace acrylic painters and water-based mixed-media artists,” said the organization’s president, Mary Holt of Depoe Bay. “The Experimental Exhibit every spring is a great opportunity to see that diversity in action.”

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This year’s guest juror is Keiko Tanabe from San Diego. Considered a master of watercolor art, she has completed many workshops and live demonstrations around the world.

For more information about the event or the watercolor society, contact convention director Mary Jo Vranizan at 503-708-2100, or email maryjoyoga@gmail.com

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Cheryl Romano is a Yachats freelance reporter who contributes regularly to YachatsNews.com. She can be reached at Wordsell@gmail.com

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