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My life, your life, our lives inside and outside of Los Angeles and its angels.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

ARTIST/AUTHOR ERIC ABRAHAM INDUCTED INTO RUSSELL HALL OF FAME (Remembering Eric)


Artist Eric Abraham in Kansas [Double Exposure with L.A. Dancers*]
Photo ©Marlan Warren
Congratulations to my friend, the late great sculptor/author Eric Abraham, for your induction into the Russell County Kansas Hall of Fame by the Blue Hills Heritage Foundation of Lucas, Kansas. 

From their Website (where you can read more ):


Eric Joseph Abraham (1936-2013) was an accomplished artist with a national reputation. He was born in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, where his parents illustrated children’s books for the public schools. Eric served in the intelligence division of the U.S. Air Force prior to earning his Master of Fine Arts degree in ceramics. In the 1970s, he taught ceramics at several colleges and universities. He created two large fire breathing dragons which were featured presented on the “Today” morning news show and was a featured artisan on the Lynette Jennings Design Show on the Discovery Channel.



REMEMBERING ERIC ABRAHAM
By Marlan Warren

The rest is history—or at least it should be.
Frongo’s First Car, Eric Abraham


Eric Abraham’s imagination was beyond anything we mortals can imagine. His determination to march to his own drummer and live the life of an artist will always be an inspiration.

I’m very happy to hear that he has been awarded this Hall of Fame honor, and only wish he had lived long enough to see it. Eric’s passing was a shock to all of us because he was such a human dynamo and completely dedicated to constantly making art his profession, as well as his joy.

One of my most outstanding memories of Eric:

While I was living in Lucas between 2004 and 2006, I hosted a writing workshop. Everyone who attended was very talented, but Eric was the only one who wrote beginning pages during our writing session and returned two weeks later with a completed manuscript—Frongo’s First Car—complete with illustrations! His first book.


[NOTE: The wildly imaginative and entertaining Frongo's First Car has been edited by Von Rothenberger, and Eric's daughter and life partner are currently seeking a publisher. They welcome queries from bona fide publishers. Message me for details.]

The tale of how fast Eric could create anything is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to remembering his genius.

The brilliance and discipline that he demonstrated in writing was the same energy that he put into every aspect of his artistic life. I never heard him brag or put people down. He was simply his authentic self—a self that housed a shimmering interior fantasy life that he manifested in three-dimensional sculptures for our viewing pleasure.


Excerpts from my diary during that time:

First Impressions

Eric has grown on me over these past months. At first I saw him as an 'old hippie' making old-fashioned art that would have been popular in the sixties. Now I admire his beautiful ceramics as an extension of the beauty he wishes to bring to the world.

He bought the former Lucas Chevy dealership and turned it into an enormous workspace, gallery and magical home. "In New York, this would be a loft apartment for five to ten thousand a month," he told me on my first visit.

Within the sprawling space, between its high walls, Eric has decorated ("decorated" is the wrong word)…He has devoted himself to (even 'devoted' isn’t right)…Okay, what he’s really doing is giving birth to a space that not only reflects who he is, but has become an external expression of the theme he’s been evolving all his life. It’s playful and winking—innocent and sensual. The passion depicted in the elaborate curly-cues of the clay and baroque style focuses on Art and what it means to be an Artist—to be guided by a Muse, to translate an inner world into clay and ceramic.


He’s named his grand studio "Flying Pig." In fact, the flying pigs dangling from the ceiling are not his. They were made by his artist friend. His sculptures are pearl and rhinestone encrusted, gilt-edged ceramic pieces that feature small animals that look fit for Noah’s Ark, or dancing unicorns. Right now Eric is working on a magnificent ceramic sink for an art lover.

I stopped by to see Eric the other day, and he said half-cheerfully:

“I’m broke. I had to pay $226 for my heat. But I have a lead on a job.” He endures. He does whatever it takes to sell his art (not just make it). He’s willing to load up his truck and drive down to Florida to show his work at a gallery. Actually, he loves to drive and travel.

Eric’s space is always an artwork-in-progress. Now he’s busy creating a living area that reflects his ornate, fantastic style. The kitchen he just finished is whimsical—like a storybook come to life. He’s even created hanging lampshades in ceramic pastels, and fancy woodwork frames the kitchen door, topped by an elaborate gilded sculpture of tiny animals all gaily enjoying themselves.

He has made a place of honor for his dearly departed artistic mother and father—their artwork displayed side by side.

At the front of the Flying Pig Studio, tables display ceramic jewelry for sale.

Antique radios that Eric has collected for decades line a shelf that goes on for half a city block.

When I first visited, Eric pointed to shelves of books and said: 'These are books about art.' Then he pointed to another set of shelves: 'And these are books about the theory of art.'"

ART TALK


These are excerpts from a report I wrote in my diary while living in Lucas, Kansas. This “Art Talk” was sponsored by the Grassroots Art Center and held in Eric’s studio. The director of the Grassroots had called and invited me, as well as some other artistic souls. Although she did not attend herself.

Eric started by asking the attendees, “What is Art?” but a few minutes later, he gallantly gave up his easy chair and prime spot in the circle to a latecomer who said she needed it for her back, and he ended up humbly on the sidelines while the talk somehow careened into another topic after someone said:

“I don’t know much about art, but I know it when I see it.”


This led to a rather long sidetrack about the Government Pornography Hearings. Eventually, the talk petered out (so to speak) and the attendees got down to speaking about how art affected their lives, as artists and art appreciators.

Their honesty made me think about Eric and his role as an artist: What is Art? What is an artist? Is it enough to say YES, I AM AN ARTIST?

Eric can say that with confidence. He’s trained. He’s focused. He’s unrestrained. He’s living his dream. He’s fulfilled. It is easy to see that Eric makes art because it gives him pleasure because it gives others pleasure. And he takes great pains to make it his livelihood, as well as his joy.

I am still very grateful for his friendship during those two years. Eric was the very definition of a gentleman, and knew how to be a good friend when the occasion called for it.

Eric was a beautiful human being who made beautiful art. One year, he agreed to host a big Thanksgiving dinner, and let me invite two people from Lincoln that he didn’t know: a Mexican American brother and sister who loved music and opera. They had the time of their lives at that dinner, and were so enamored of Eric’s art that they wrote us a thank you letter (and every time I saw them after that, they expressed their gratitude).

Whenever I invited Eric to dinner, he arrived with his beloved hamburgers. Our supper conversations never included gossip or mean-spirited comments. I never heard Eric say he felt envious or spiteful or bitter. His positive outlook permeated the air around him because he was in sync with his creativity. He often told me about the special place he held in his heart for his loved ones, including his longtime life partner, his daughter, grandson, and former wife.

I have a horse figurine that my Tai Chi teacher gave me for my birthday in Los Angeles, but the leg had broken in transit to Kansas. Eric glued it back seamlessly, as an act of kindness.

Yes, Eric Abraham was one of a kind.


I would say "Rest in Peace" but you'll never be gone.

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*The double exposed photo above is one of a series of "Kansas/L.A." photos that I received by accident, courtesy of an accident via my old Nikon camera that held beautiful pictures of a Studio A dance rehearsal (actually in memory of their artistic director who had suddenly passed away) that were overlaid by my pictures of Lucas, shortly after I arrived. Eric is shown here at my friend Margaret Wade's lovely home in Lucas where she hosted a gathering for Grassroots Art Center people. I had known Margaret and her daughter Lena Gaye in Chicago in the 70s, and it was at their urging, that I moved to Kansas to experience what they called "Artistic Freedom." In fact, it was one of the most creative periods of my life so far.

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