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We sat down with the ever-gracious and ever-talented Bradley and Anne-Marie Gordon of Oxford, Mississippi, and it was quite the incredible chat. This couple weaves together some of the things we admire most: a love for the arts, a sense of community, a spirit of humility, and beautifully discerning taste. Bradley makes art, and Anne-Marie is a purveyor of it. And yet - they feel like works of art themselves.

Most of us aren’t inclined to art at all, but Bradley is skilled in more ways than one.



Bradley is an agile artist who easily moves between a love of canvas and drums. Most of us aren’t inclined to art at all, but Bradley is skilled in more ways than one. He’d likely call that “luck” since that and “being fortunate” are two of the sentiments he calls to most. While that may be true, Bradley and Anne-Marie have grit. They work hard, but it’s easy to see that their attitude of gratitude has gotten them far.

We’ve had a longstanding relationship with Bradley and have enjoyed displaying his art for many years in several of our shops. Here’s Billy on our relationship with Bradley and his family:

“I first met Bradley through mutual friends in Oxford introducing us to his artwork. We had a few pieces that we had sold for him while they were hanging in the shop. Bradley gifted us a very special painting of a horse that is above the mantle at our cabin, that is just a show stopper and lives with us daily.

Our relationship has continued for nearly 15 years now through special showings, artwork hung in several of our shops, and many fun moments along the way. Anne-Marie and Bradley are some of our favorite people, and we are just so proud of both of them and their success, and we are looking forward to many more good times together.”

Bradley's Artwork, Billy's Cabin

Q+A

We called on Bradley and Anne-Marie to showcase the launch of our Indigo Capsule at their beautiful Oxford home. We got a behind-the-scenes peek into their world and Bradley’s studio. We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did.

In a nutshell, who are the Gordons?

AMG: [Laughs] Disheveled. 

BG: A fortunate little family. 

AMG: That’s so good, Bradley.


How did you two meet? I heard it was a meet cute. 

AMG: We had a mutual friend in common. And this was probably, like, 20 years ago. I was doing an after-party at my store [Cicada], and I wanted a DJ, and this friend was like, oh, you’ve got to meet Gordo. I was like, “Okay, DJ Gordo.” So I called DJ Gordo and left DJ Gordo a message. And then DJ Gordo called me back and left me a message; the rest is history.


Incredible. How was that first date?

AMG: Bradley came to pick me up at my house, wearing Bruno Magli shoes. I don't even know if that's a thing anymore. But I was like, oh, my gosh, he has cool shoes. Here I am from Dallas. I'm used to people dressing a certain way, and I come to Ole Miss, and they do not dress like that. But then here's this cute guy with these designer shoes on. I was so impressed. 

BG: [Laughs] What she didn't know at the time is that I probably bought those fancy designer shoes from a junk store.

"What she didn't know at the time is that I probably bought those fancy designer shoes from a junk store."

Billy Reid, New Orleans

Bradley, your first love. Was that music?

BG: Yeah. I grew up from a young age, always being involved, playing a little garage band, and then I supported myself through college and tried to make a living playing music at one point, which failed miserably. So it's always been a constant in my life. And I'm actually at my studio now, about to start on our second album [MADRIQ], so all the guys are inside mic'ing things up. So I still do it. It's more of a creative passion outlet than a way to make a living. But who knows? That may change one day. 


But art has always been central to who you are, yes?

BG: Yeah, I grew up on a cotton farm in the middle of nowhere. I didn't have a lot of friends around like a traditional kid might, and because I was isolated and on a farm, I had access to tools and welders and whatever. So I spent a lot of time occupying myself, creating things (and probably breaking things). So maybe that ignited my creative sense, I don't know. Then throughout school, I went to a small school - I think I had one art class? But then, when I went to college, I knew I wanted to be involved in some visual arts, so I went to school to be an art teacher. And that's what I did for about ten years.

When did you pursue art full time?

BG:I lived overseas for a bit, but it was when I moved home that I opened a little art gallery. Anne-Marie and I'd reconnected, and we were going to give our relationship a second round. And she asked me one night, "If you could do anything, what would you do?" And I was like, "I would paint." Paint and play music. And she said, "Well, how can we make that happen?" And so I opened a little art gallery and lived in the back in my studio in my hometown of Clarksdale. And it was there that I kind of was able to get on my feet. I painted 15 hours a day, put together some shows, and was able to start selling a few paintings. And then, once we got married, I was able to close the gallery and start painting full-time. A lot of it is luck. The planets were aligned, and yeah, I've just been really fortunate.


Amazing. Your life on the farm no doubt inspired your art. Can you describe that impact?

BG: It is my artwork. People ask me, do you only paint animals? Or, you know, Delta scenes? And it's not all I do, but I got on my feet there. But yeah, it all ties back to home and that sense of place. Growing up on the farm, I was always outside in nature. That's what I did. So I chased these animals around, and they were a huge part then, just as much now, the landscapes and everything. And then there's Genevieve [daughter]. She's probably one of my biggest inspirations now. She challenges me and inspires me to try new avenues. It all does tie back to that, again, sense of home, place, and family, and however my travels or adventures intersect with that.

"We've got ten summers with you until you go to college."


Speaking of Genevieve. How has being a parent influenced your artwork and the way that you manage time? Any wisdom you’d like to impart?

BG: We've been discussing that a lot lately, with both of us being self-employed. Our daughter is now at that age where she's got soccer, tumbling, and all the different after-school activities, and we have to pick our days. "Okay, well, I'm going to get to paint these two days," and "Okay, she's got a board meeting, and she's got this these days." And so it's constantly juggling, and it's very easy to get stressed. I take a step back from that and realize that it's not bad that I have my daughter at the studio and that I might not be able to paint one day, even though I might be behind on work or stressed about stuff. That's the reason we work - to provide for our families. And again, we're just so fortunate. 

BG, continued: We want for nothing. We need nothing. We're healthy as far as we know. We have loving families and friends. At the end of the day, if I never sell another painting, we always joke; I'll go and find something else to do and be just as happy. I think we just keep in mind why we do what we do.


Inspiring. Your daughter will never forget that time spent in your studio or your shop. 

AMG: Never. And that's being a good role model for her, showing her that hard work pays off, but you also have to learn how to manage your time. I don't want to say that we're mentors, but as a parent, we're trying to show her a way that may not be the traditional path. If she wanted to be out on her own and have her own business, she could do it. She's watched her mom do it; her dad do it. We won't get these years back. So Bradley had a point of learning to be mindful, that you're not just getting stuck in your daily grind, and that we do get to hang out with her because it won't last forever. I told her yesterday, "We've got ten summers with you until you go to college."


You mentioned living overseas, Bradley. Where were you, and were you teaching then?

BG: Yeah, so I originally went to Taichung City, Taiwan, and I went there on a TEFL certificate. So I was teaching English, but I did very little teaching by the time I left and was playing music, probably more so, and traveling around the island playing music. But I was there legally because I had a teaching certificate. And then, I came home for a couple of years and taught in Tennessee, and then I moved to Japan and did the same thing, taught and played music, and then came home.


Did living in these places influence your technique?

BG: Hugely. People ask me about a lot of the bright colors and the saturation of things. I was hugely influenced by the lights, the pace, the people, and the culture. Oh, and the chopsticks. When I was figuring out my style of paint and trying to find my voice, I had a sushi set—one of those little kits where you have a teacup, a platter, and chopsticks. And I was in my studio, and it was late, and I was hanging out with a friend and working on a painting, and I grabbed one of the chopsticks and started scribbling on the painting. I still have the same ones that I used then to scratch into my paintings today.

"Anne-Marie and I never went on a honeymoon. Instead, we bought a painting from my favorite artist, Jere Allen. We still do this; we try to collect various artworks from artists that we love."


But for now, you’re in Mississippi. Will this always be home?

AMG: Yes, unless for some reason we retire and travel the world.

What does home mean to you both? Tell me more about your house.

BG: It's everything. It's where my girls are, number one. So it's like where you go home and feel safe at the end of the day and run around and do all the silly things we get to do. It also reflects our growth and our travels. And I don't mean travels in the sense of getting in an airplane and flying but travels as a family, our growth as a family. Anne-Marie and I never went on a honeymoon. Instead, we bought a painting from my favorite artist, Jere Allen. We still do this; we try to collect various artworks from artists that we love. And I think that shows. It serves as a constant reminder of where we were at that time in life or ties us back to that time and place. And then, on top of that, having a little crazy eight-year-old running around with all of her artwork and all of her goodies, it's just a reminder of, again, just how fortunate we are and kind of where we come from and where we hope to go. 

That's beautiful. It’s a curation of you three, within four walls.

AMG: And to be more specific about the house itself, it's an old mid-century modern house built in the 60's by a former Ole Miss football player. So the house itself has a history. To think that somebody back in the 60’s in conservative Oxford built a mid-century modern house - it's just different and was a bit of a risk. It wasn't like everything else that was around here. And I feel like that embodies who we try to be. We really try to be true to who we are as a family and as individuals and not be afraid to be different. We got really lucky. I pinch myself at least once a week. This house is so fantastic. Especially since when Bradley and I met, he was living in a cabin in a small town, and you had to turn down a dirt road to get to it. 

BG: [Interjects] I loved my cabin, by the way.

"We got really lucky. I pinch myself at least once a week. This house is so fantastic."

You each are entrepreneurs, respectively. Your shop is Vogue recognized, Anne-Marie. Can you tell me more about Cicada and that journey?

AMG: I never had the intention of owning a store. I knew I probably wanted to do something on my own, but it never was, like, a certain field I wanted to go into. It was fate that it just organically happened here in Oxford. There was a need for it. I'm from right outside of Dallas, and there were these things that were happening there that I felt like could work in Oxford. And so I started with a day spa and transitioned into cosmetics, then into apparel. I sold the day spa, and then I focused mainly on apparel. And as the town grew, as Oxford grew as a community, I was able to build these businesses simultaneously. Then we opened a men's shop in 2011, and that's how our relationship started with Billy Reid. Some folks from Billy Reid came for a trunk show and saw Bradley's work, and that's how the relationship formed. Bradley took it from there. It was just a wonderful organic thing that happened with us and Billy.

The way things happen organically in the South is truly very special.  

AMG: The company [Billy Reid] is such a breath of fresh air to me. I've been doing this for 25 years, and to meet a brand that really cares about partnering with people and advancing creatives by using their platform has been wonderful for us as a family, and for Bradley's business. We’ve been so grateful to the company for really helping to grow both of our careers, and then this opportunity has been amazing.


Speaking of Billy,
Cicada, and style. What are each of your philosophies on getting dressed? 

AMG: The first thing that comes to mind is just being comfortable. Flattering on the body, the shapes of the garments, and then mixing textures, colors, and prints. To me, that is how I express my artistic side. I can't paint. I can't really play music. So getting dressed is how I express my creativity. Learning how to work with fabrications and layers and how different pieces play together is something I try to teach my girls here at the store. When we're merchandising, I remind them to look at the mannequins and the racks. Making sure they consider how everything looks together and how you can think outside the box when getting dressed. But I'm going to quickly diverge here and talk about the Billy Reid brand. The quality of the clothing always blows my mind. The pieces I've had from 2011 are still staples in my wardrobe. 

BG: [Laughs] I look homeless most days. Jokes aside, I dress the same way I have growing up – growing on a farm. I'm a boots, blue jeans, and t-shirt kind of guy. It's all function. And that's one thing that I love about Billy's clothes. They work well for me. I can go from the studio with paint on me to dinner at a nice restaurant, all in the same outfit. Most everything I have has paint on it.


That’s fair. Our pieces are meant to be lived in.
 

AMG: Absolutely. And I’ve been in this business so long – you just don’t see that kind of quality and attention to detail. It’s inventive, too.


For parting words, any lessons learned that you’d like to share?

AMG: Going through a financially hard time like the recession we had in 2009 was a challenging time because we could have lost everything. What I could glean is how important having mentors is. Having people that you can call upon that know more than you do. Sometimes you must put your humility on the back burner and ask for help. Know that you don't know everything. You can't do it all by yourself. It takes a village. As a family, we wouldn't be where we are if we didn't have the mentors that we've had. It's just essential to me - if you can't give back or be grateful for who or what has helped along the way, you just won't last very long.

So true. Bradley, what about you? A specific mantra?

BG: I told my daughter the other day that when I lived in Japan before the kindergarten kids would eat, they would stand up and recite a type of prayer, but it wasn't necessarily a religious prayer. They would thank the sun for providing the plants and the nutrients to grow and the farmers who grew the food for them to eat. This considered, we're fortunate that we have stumbled in the right direction along this journey, and we somehow found a way. But it hasn't just been us. We've been very fortunate to have blessings and luck. So this is something I always try to convey. It's a reminder in the back of my head that it's good to be grateful for the food on your plate, but it's great to remember where that food came from and how it got to you. This applies to our careers, family, and everything else. 


What a fortunate little family.

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