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Editorial

If These Walls Could Talk


Brad Cool's Healing Room



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12/01/2010 - If these walls could talk…" Brad Cool chuckled "Well it's probably better that they can't". Brad's wife Gail calls the room his man-cave. His buddies refer to it as the clubhouse. For Brad, it is his healing room.

The first thing I noticed when glancing through the doorway were a pair of gleaming motorcycles parked at one end. Entering the room, I was instinctively drawn to what I know must be Brad's chair. He graciously allowed me to sit there as we visited, and I studied the room from his usual perspective. The designer part of me delighted at the balance, rhythm and harmony of the interwoven collages throughout the space. Though filled with bright color and interesting details, the whole somehow conveys a sense of peace.

This is indeed the room Brad seeks out when in need of peace. For some time, Brad has been battling an illness that threatens to rob his memory. Light sometimes triggers his headaches and seizures, but silent empty darkness is an alien world to his multifaceted mind. Brad is a brilliant man in both the visual and verbal realms. A conversation with him sweeps along at warp-drive speed and his healing room is the visual and verbal equivalent of that whirlwind. Its individual components are reminders of the cherished moments in his life that he doesn't want to lose.

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Brad recently retired from teaching art at NCHS. As I looked at the individual photos within the wall collages, I saw 35 years of the wallet-sized senior portraits of his favorite students woven through the snapshots of his family and friends. Punctuating the design are both his artwork and that of others he admires. Concentrated closest to his chair are pictures of his beautiful wife Gail at every age from childhood up.

Brad's main inspiration for creating his room was the memory of an exhibit he'd seen in North Platte Nebraska. An old farmer named Emory Blagdon had spent 30 years crafting exquisitely detailed sculptures primarily from bits of bailing wire and foil. He'd filled an old shed on his farm with the sculptures and called it his healing machine. Blagdon was what is known as an outsider artist--- someone self-taught that works not to sell or exhibit, but simply to create. After Blagdon's death, pharmacist Dan Dryden bought the contents of the shed and eventually they were exhibited at museums around the world. Can art heal? Dryden described it as creating "an emotional psychological impact that can affect your outlook". For Brad, his healing room does just that.

Brad has asked that his previous art students please send pictures to add to his collage. Email to bcoolart@yahoo.com

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