Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mama, Don't Let Yer Babies Grow Up To Be Artists

We all felt like vultures. I tried so hard to not show up right at 11:00 am, but I couldn't help myself. I hadn't seen the stored body of art work, and it had attained such a mythic status. It was an exciting vault of all of Ed's work, it was a sad reminder of his passing, it was an ominous symbol of futility, Ed's and our own. I was determined to not lose it. Others seemed to be in a similar state. The room was opened and it was an incredible sight. An overwhelming number of paintings (about 200?) packed the 14' x 14' room (which had at one point been my own studio, and Brian Fick's before that...talk about layers of history...). The work was so impressive and exciting to see again, all at once, that the sadness and weirdness disappeared, for me anyway. I was so relieved that people showed up and I was also so relieved that the work was largely intact. I had nightmares of very different scenarios. I didn't realise how much this vault had been haunting me, and likely many others, for the past 3 1/2 years.

The Descent, 48" x 40", 1998

I felt inappropriately giddy. Despite the method with which it happened, this dispersal of Ed's work was a good thing. It wasn't ideal, but it wasn't a total legacy collapse. I saw most of Ed's best paintings go into the care of people who cherish them, who appreciate them for their artistic value, and who will be eager to pursue any exhibition opportunities which may arise.

Family Gathering - With New Abstract Painting, 22" x 30", early 2000s

"The Final Dissolution of Ed Sanders"

This morbid epitaph has played in my head since I received a letter in February, inviting a group of Ed's associates to select work from his collection. Since Ed's death in August 2006, his massive body of work has been stored at the Murphy Art Center, in Indianapolis. An early attempt was made, by those close to Ed, to responsibly document and manage his work. *This fell through and his work has been in deep-limbo storage ever since.

Personally, I didn't fully "get" Ed's work until the mid-1990s. I admired him; he painted daily for three decades, and so I always considered that I may be missing something about his work. It did finally start dawning on me that the style genres in which he worked (which then seemed retrogressive to me) were less relevant than what he was doing within them. Or rather, any critique of the genre was irrelevant. He was way past that. He was developing highly personal and masterful methods for creating psychological moments in paint. The places in many of his paintings, the illusionistic space in them, seem very similar to the places we envision when reading a novel, or remembering something. They are vague, yet definitive and poignantly rich. These paintings are more than depictions of a place from a memory. They trigger the very experience of visual memory in the viewer.

....in the receptive viewer.

One can look right over an entire row of his paintings and never quite catch this. It certainly doesn't translate into electronic media. Try to brand this experience in a meaningful way. You cannot. These paintings require physical viewing. It's devastating to see such an artist be so under-recognized, and it's devastating to know his work is now being .....almost discarded.....I was deeply grateful for the invitation to select work, but also saddened. I believe an upcoming exhibition may be worked-over Ed drawings, possibly collected from a trash bin, so can one really raise hell about it? Heavy, heavy sigh.........

Call For Blessings, 18" x 24", early 2000s

*A Lesson For Us All: Make plans for your work now. Your assigned legal trustee may have little or no idea how to deal with your work. This can be difficult for both that trustee and for those who do know how to best deal with your work, but legally cannot.

7 comments:

Nomi Lubin said...

This is very moving.

Carla said...

Plans are in the works to regroup the work for professional documentation, and possibly publish something in print.

Schro said...

Please do not be too sad yet. I'm doing everything in my power to preserve Ed's works...and to make something of his legacy. We WILL be hosting 2 exhibitions in 2013. Venues will be announced as soon as I can get it finalized, and I will let all of you know. Thanks for your support, and for admiring Ed's works as much as you do.

Carla said...

Brian, I have heard of those plans, and it sounds very exciting. Please do keep me posted. Thanks.

Brian Schroeder said...

Well the exhibition did not happen in 2013 as originally planned, but it is now set for June 2014.....Herron School of Art. Details coming soon. Please let everyone know.

Brian

Carla said...

Brian, Yes, this is a great development. From what I've heard, it will be the entire gallery and will have a catalog as well. Yay! I'll post here on the blog and elsewhere.

Brian Schroeder said...

Pickup for Ed's paintings is about to officially begin, and we will be prepping them for the show within the coming weeks. No turning back now. Also, the catalog is finished, and ready for print. We are rolling, and VERY excited for this very rare, and rather complete, retrospective of Ed's works.

Brian