Scorched Earth by Mark Bradford

Scorched Earth , 2006 Photo: Bruce M. White

If you're up for some refreshingly cool contemporary art this summer, check out the Mark Bradford exhibition at the Wexner Center for the Arts on the campus of The Ohio State University.

I was lucky to tour the exhibit with Bradford when he was here for the opening. He is well known in contemporary art circles, yet I found him to be funny, engaging and very down-to-earth. He has a great sense of humor and I think you can see and feel this from his work, too.

Bradford is primarily a painter and a sculptor. Unique about his works is the use of paper, cardboard, rope, string and other materials, such as hair papers used for perms. (Working with his mother, Bradford was formerly a hairdresser.)

In the show, you'll see a few pieces he created during his Wexner Center Residency, including Pinocchio is on Fire , a series of album covers designed following a staged rock event at Mershon Auditorium last fall. Another is literally a black room full of rectangular shaped paper on the walls and ceiling with music by Columbus native Nancy Wilson playing.

Impressive in scale and content, there are a few pieces that take up the entire wall, including Bread and Circuses which is a bright silver piece layered with drawings, string and paper. Another work that stuck with me is James Brown is Dead , made of a series of billboard papers Bradford scraped off of walls in urban Los Angeles.

This is the first survey of Bradford's work, created between 2000-2010, and it fills all four galleries at the Wex. Curated by the Wexner Center's Christopher Bedford, the show will travel to Boston, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco.

While you're at the Wex, be sure to stop into the Wexner Center Store . Not only do they have neat books, but also jewelry, home décor and more. It's a great place to linger.

Mark Bradford runs through Aug. 15. The Wexner Center is open Tuesday through Sunday starting at 11 a.m. Admission is $5 for adults, free for those 18 and under. Admission also is free on Thursdays from 4-8 p.m. and the first Sunday of the month.

For more information, visit wexarts.org or call 614-292-3535. Also check out PinocchioIsOnFire.org for a rich online experience of Bradford's work and the exhibition.