The Art of One Man: Tad Bradley

Monday Feb. 1st, 2016

It was a typical day of work at the youth group home. I was busy running from room to room trying to wrangle half-a-dozen teenagers and get dinner on the table. While I was in the midst of all the usual chaos, I scurried into the back office only to barge in on my boss conducting an interview to fill the current vacant position.

This is the first time I would meet Tad Bradley. Initially, I remember being struck by his presence. In that moment, the daily pandemonium was occurring all around me but I could feel a calm energy in the room. His quiet strength and peaceful presence came as a breath of fresh air.

Before long Tad would become my co-parent at the group home and the majority of our time would be spent together raising a gaggle of teenagers. Inevitably, we came to know each other very well.

I soon would learn that Tad has worked as an educator at Montana State University for almost a decade. He has a master’s degree in architecture and spends his free time in his studio creating fused-glass art. He would tell me stories about the renowned glass schools he studied at around the world including Pilchuck in Seattle, Washington and Northlands Creative Glass School in Scotland.

His passion for glass was obvious but his choice of employment at a youth group home was not. I couldn’t wrap my mind around why someone with his intellect and professional experience would chose to be employed at a non-profit youth group home for $10.00/hour.  

To my astonishment, Tad’s passion for glass was mirrored only by his passion to give back. We all have a unique journey and his is no exception. Having grown up in New York, he, too, grew up in a youth group home. He softly states that the individuals at the group homes where he once lived changed his life and shaped him into the man he is today. His employment at this youth home was a result of his desire to pay it forward – to impart these teenagers with the same kindness that he once received.  

Tad is intimately familiar with the degree of fortitude and commitment required to transcend marked adversity and see each day as a new beginning. So few people make it their life’s mission to infuse goodness into the world around them. Tad gently and quietly shares his wisdom and experience with those less fortunate and thereby influences lives in a positive and productive way.

His example of giving back to others what he once received is why I submitted this article. Tad significantly impacted my life and the lives of the teenagers we parented at the group home. I want to give back to him by offering the Bozeman community an awareness of his personal and artistic contributions.

Tad Bradley possesses more artistic talent in his daily musings than I could muster in a lifetime. His passion, talent, and creativity with glass comes to life via thoughtful composition and precise execution, revealing color, texture, and movement that evokes both beauty and emotion throughout his extraordinary artwork.

Mr. Bradley says, “Architecture and the art involved that transcend ‘space’ is built from multiple and simple levels of clarity, which upon overlapping, create an orchestra to be inhabited and experienced.

Architecture typically has a brief or goals associated with the task at hand. Art is much less prescriptive. My exploration of materials and composition is driven by seemingly dissimilar questions raised in my professional and personal life.
I continually seek to more fully understand materials, fabrication, composition, interpretation and myself through the work I make. I have found that working with ones hands offer a level of knowledge that cannot be learned through any text, no matter how eloquently written.”

The Bozeman community should have the opportunity to know his art, know his story, share in the beauty of his work and witness his profound talent. Tad Bradley is educated, talented and passionate and I only hope you too afford him, his art, and his story the opportunity to change your life as he did mine.

Recently, Tad decided to take a leap of faith and follow his dreams. He walked away from his steady income to establish his very own art business and offer *courses in fused-glass. (This class previously having only been offered to graduate level architecture students, is expanding to include anyone interested in learning about glass, composition, craft and design.)

I encourage Bozeman and the greater Montana community to embrace him, his teachings, and his beautiful creations in much the same manner that he embraces life here in our community.  

Recently Tad’s work has been on display with the Brookings Arts Council in Brookings, SD, in the South Dakota Art Museum, and on the campus of South Dakota State University.

Locally, he has permanent installations on the Montana State University campus at the Danforth Chapel (centerpiece of the Iris Garden), on the second floor of Gaines Hall in the south public gathering area, and in Cheever Hall’s main office. He also exhibits at the Artists’ Gallery in the Emerson Cultural Center.

*More information about his art, inspiration, design, and class offerings can be found at    

Kelsey Denison is a fifth generation Montanan, born and raised in Bozeman. She studied Family Science and Child Services at Montana State University and has enjoyed working with multiple local non-profit organizations around the Gallatin Valley. Currently she is in the process of establishing a respite youth group home in Bozeman.