Art for the sake of art, freely created, freely given
Eddie Bridges has a quote hanging in his home that he looks at every day. It reads, “The true meaning of life: We are visitors on this planet. We are here for ninety or one hundred years at the very most. During that period, we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives. If you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life.”
His sheer level of productivity ensures him a high level of success. It’s not that everything he does turns out well—it’s more that he does a lot. It is a rare day when he doesn’t make some random thing. He is working on at least twenty projects at any given time. Whether he’s building bookshelves in his study, making R2D2 smoker grills, writing questions for Hair of the Dog’s Pub Quiz, performing food science experiments, bartending at JJ’s Bohemia, officiating at secular weddings, purveying antiques and oddities at Shirtless Dave’s Vintage, or working on the best couch ever invented, Eddie is up to something excellent.
“I wouldn’t call myself an artist. I don’t like getting caught up in labels too much. Semantics arguments tend to be useless; you lose the meaning for the sake of the argument. That being said, I consider myself to be a maker.”
About four years ago, he had a horrible box store couch that made him feel like he was sitting on a jungle gym. He decided to build a couch with memory foam samples, with the help of his friends. “It was that cherry spot on Facebook before GoFundMe and Kickstarter. Crowd sourcing hadn’t caught on, so people weren’t tired of it yet. I got hundreds of samples from Tempurpedic. The couch is extremely comfortable, and I’m still sitting on it.”
After spending months thinking and acquiring materials, he 3D modeled the couch with Google Sketch. The upholstery came from a high end retailer—it has the same fabric as the furniture at the Chattanoogan, imported from England. It has a mini fridge, record player, computer, drawer for records, an amazon echo, remote control for lights, and room for expansion—he plans to add a Roomba garage. He also built two ottomans—one has a media storage drawer and flask drawer, while the other one converts from an ottoman to a chair to an easel.
“I go from hobby to hobby like a mountain goat jumping from crag to crag. I never linger on any one thing, I revisit it. Once I get familiar with it, I will walk away and then come back to it when it is either called for or interesting to me.”
Using a vinegar bath and seaweed extract, he spherized liquor to go on sushi. When bitten, the skin on the droplets burst and released the liquor. “I was into molecular gastronomy—edible foams. I made raspberry flavored spaghetti with agar agar and raspberry puree. It looked like bright red spaghetti and tasted like raspberry jello.”
The spirit with which he approaches creation is beautiful. “If I inspire anybody in any way, then I feel like it is a day well spent. If one person gets one smile, if one person says ‘I can do that’ and gets out their glue gun at home, then it is worth the effort. I’m fairly well convinced that many people can but don’t create because they think they’ll do something wrong. It’s been liberating to me to allow myself to put imperfect and unfinished works into the world to encourage others to express themselves.”
Eddie is excited about projects that make life easier, like making an automated cat feeder to dispense food with RFID tags on the collars. He’s building a hammock stand, a greenhouse, or taking apart a radio controlled car and using the parts to make a squirt gun disguised as a flower pot. He’s slowly working on a book of original origami, making drinking vinegars from obscure ingredients, and catering random events with edible art installations. He is writing an introduction for the next anthology that is being produced by the Chattanooga Comics Co-Op, a group of sequential artists who meets regularly at Infinity Flux.
“The act of making suits my tastes better if it’s both given freely and ephemeral. I disagree with the notion that artwork is priceless or eternal. Even the Mona Lisa, in its climate controlled room behind bulletproof glass, will be gone one day. Treating stuff as precious is something I have never done. I don’t have any work to show—I give it all away. There are very few things that I have made that I cling to, aside from things I use.”