K r a m e r A r t . n e t
K r a m e r A r t . n e t
                                                A R T I S T    B I O Ed’s   art   career   had   its   roots   in   junior   high   school,   where   he   doodled   so   much   in   his   text books   that   he   had   to   pay   for   some   of   them   at   the   end   of   the   school   year.   To   prevent this   problem   from   reoccurring   in   high   school,   he   started   to   carry   a   small   sketchbook   to doodle   in.   Without   having   to   frequently   change   pages   to   keep   up   with   the   teacher,   he started   to   spend   more   time   on   each   page,   and   his   interest   changed   from   patterns   to drawing   faces.   He   graduated   from   ball   point   pens   and   pencils   to   technical   pens,   and then   to   using   color   inks.   Although   he   didn’t   feel   like   his   work   was   particularly   good,   he kept   getting   high   grades   in   art,   and   took   all   the   high-school   art   courses   he   could   just   to get   easy   “A’s”   in   an   otherwise   difficult   all-academic   school   (Central   High   School   in Philadelphia,   PA).   His   work   advanced   to   the   point   where   he   was   accepted   with   a scholarship at the Philadelphia College of Art (PCA) (now University of the Arts). Ed   entered   PCA   in   1971,   at   the   age   of   17,   as   a   film-making major,   and   later   switched   majors   to   environmental   design, but   his   most   lasting   inspiration   from   his   time   there   came from    drawing    teacher    David    Kettner,    who    drew    small amazingly   complex   mandalas.   Although   they   were   beautiful, Ed   was   totally   awed   by   the   amount   of   time   evidenced   in such   a   small   space.   He   also   gained   many   other   insights   from Kettner’s   perrenialist   teaching   style,   where   he   would   often quote    the    same    platitudes    about    art    in    his    discussions. Frequently   in   his   class   you   would   hear   students   having   “a- ha”   moments   where   the   insights   that   were   being   offered where   taken   in.   A   couple   examples   of   these   insights   are   "Gray   is   the   enemy   of   the   painter"   (Delacroix),   and,   “There   are   no   lines   in   nature,   only areas of color, one against another”. (Edouard Manet). Ed   left   PCA   after   a   year   because   he   did   not   know   what   he   wanted   to   do.   After traveling   around   the   United   States   on   his   motorcycle,   he   took   a   job   working   nights   at the   post   office   because   this   allowed   him   to   pursue   his   creative   endeavors.   When   he witnessed   the   working   conditions   there,   this   lead   him   into   a   20-year   span   as   a   union activist,   which   while   not   completely   taking   all   of   his   creative   energy   –   it   took   much   of it.   The   newsletter   that   Ed   created,   edited,   designed   and   produced   won   the   "Overall Best    Newsletter"    Award    from    a    trade    organization    with    thousands    of    member publications in 1983. During    this    period,    in    the    1970’s,    his    artistic    interest    moved towards   explorations   of   patterns   of   lines   and   the   way   that   different patterns    interacted.    In    the    visual    language    that    developed, horizontal   and   vertical   lines   could   represent   any   dichotomy   (good and   bad,   right   and   wrong,   etc.).   Solid   shapes   represented   fixed ideas,    progressions    of    lines    and    patterns    are    the    layers    of complication   that   effect   these   basic   forces.   He   was   fascinated   by M.C.   Escher’s   paradoxical   geometric   form   drawings,   and   with   the many   variations   of   patterns   that   could   be   created   with   simple colored   lines   (repetition,   progression,   randomness,   and   all   their variations   and   combinations).   His   work   also   explored   the   concepts of    assimilation    and    contrast    that    were    the    basis    of    Op    Art. (Assimilation   is   the   attempt   by   the   brain   to   group   similar   appearing objects,   and   contrast   is   the   attempt   by   the   brain   to   place   a   shape in   either   the   foreground   or   the   background   of   a   picture.)   Although he   could   not   see   his   own   work   “all   of   the   way   though”,   he   got much    feedback    from    others    about    the    mind-bogglingly    deep spaces that were created by his work. During   one   of   his   frequent   trips   to   the   art   museums   in   Washington   D.C.,   he had   the   first   “peak”   art   experience   that   moved   him   towards   the   artistic   vision that   he   holds   to   this   day.   There   was   a   painting   in   the   Hirshhorn   Museum, which   he   initially   walked   right   past.   When   he   came   back   around   to   it   (it   is   a round   museum)   there   were   several   people   making   a   fuss   over   it.   Although   the canvas   appeared   to   be   all   red,   with   no   other   markings   what-so-ever,   after looking   at   it   for   a   short   period   of   time,   oval   shapes   were   clearly   seen   that were   moving   through   the   picture   space   –   not   only   two   dimensionally,   but most   amazingly,   in   the   third   dimension   as   well.   Later   when   researching   this phenomenon,   he   learned   that   the   human   eye   only   has   so   many   sensors   for each   color,   and   when   the   sensors   get   overwhelmed,   the   brain   knows   that there is more information, so it starts to essentially make things up. A    few    years    later,    in    1977,    also    at    the    Hirshhorn,    he experienced   the   most   profound   artistic   experience   of   his   life (to    date)    at    the    Kenneth    Noland    Retrospective.    Noland    is known    for    his    “target”    paintings    that    some    people ridiculed   at   the   time.   There   were   many   target   paintings in   the   show,   as   well   as   other   works   featuring   sharp angles.    To    that    point    Ed’s    typical    experience    with Noland’s   painting   had   been   for   the   different   color   bands to    optically    mix.    (For    example    a    reddish    line    and yellowish   line   would   start   to   appear   as   one   orange   line). While   your   brain   processes   this,   it   "flashes"   back-and- forth   between   seeing   two   lines   and   one,   and   causes other   unusual   and   interesting   visual   effects,   such   as   perceived   movement   and   the illusion   of   depth.   But   that   day   one   of   the   paintings   produced   an   exponentially greater   effect.   First   the   bands   optically   mixed,   and   then   the   light   colored   center turned   dark   –   then   black.   Even   at   that   point   it   was   an   amazing   experience,   but then   the,   now   dark,   core   started   to   spin,   and   then   radiant   light   emanated   from behind   the   spinning   black   disk.   Again   at   that   point   it   was   the   most   amazing   visual experience   of   Ed’s   life   –   but   then   it   reached   a   much   higher   level   …   the   edges   of   the painting   disappeared,   and   the   view   became   like   viewing   a   solar   eclipse   at   close   range. (Check out http://www.kennethnoland.com/ .) Ed   never   experienced   another   painting   to   that   level   again,   but   it did   inspire   him.   He   embraced   the   idea   of   a   higher   level   art experience   that   would   not   require   any   previous,   or   culturally specific,   knowledge   of   art   to   appreciate   –   but   one   that   was enabled   by   pushing   the   limitations   of   sensory   capabilities.   He started    to    work    larger    –    substituting    permanent    markers    for technical   pens,   in   much   of   his   work,   and   increasing   his   focus   on the   power   of   color.   The   work   of   this   period   culminated   in   a   one- man    show    at    the    Sage    Gallery    in    Gladwyne,    PA    in    1985. Unfortunately,   he   learned   the   hard   way   over   the   next   decade   that permanent   markers   are   not   permanent   at   all,   particularly   the   reds and yellows. The   1990’s   were   devoted   to   family   life,   but   he   continued   to   draw and    paint    (paying    great    attention    to    the    permanence    of    his materials).    In    the    past    few    years,    his    creative    output    has increased greatly as his children reached college age. A   woodworking   project   designed   and   built   by   Ed,   that   features   many   of   the   same visual   ideas   as   his   art,   is   featured   in   the   book   "Handmade   Houses"   by   Steven Paul Whitsitt and Tina Skinner (Schiffer Publishing, 2008).