by Mike Hays
An artist’s life is filled with journeys. Ed Kirkland’s journeys have included moving from Harlem to Nyack, riding a bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and receiving a life-saving kidney transplant.
Ed’s journey as an artist began when he was a kid, drawing cartoon characters he saw on the family Motorola. He has been obsessed with art ever since.
In 1965, his family moved from Harlem into the Central Nyack house his father had built on Gillis Avenue. It was quite a change for a city boy to move to a suburban hamlet with well water, dirt roads and no streetlights. Ed spent a lot of time on buses returning to the city to see friends.
He moved to California for a time in the mid 1970s. He studied Arabic and started learning formal figure drawing while monitoring a class at San Jose State. He couldn’t escape art while working as a carpenter, truck driver, and in highway maintenance.
Early recognition of his art was often serendipity. A painting of Jackie Robinson hung in Strawberry Place for many years. The painting was discovered when someone from the restaurant saw him carrying it into his apartment and asked him if they could show it.
Ed is also an avid bicyclist and has cycled in the seven day, San Francisco to Los Angeles AIDS Benefit ride. A morning bike ride from Nyack to Cold Spring for breakfast is no big deal for Ed Kirkland.
His artistic range is broad, politically acute and culturally alert. Unfortunately most of his early art was lost during his bout with kidney failure. His current work includes folk art and text-imbedded assemblages, Basquiat-like visions, acryclic assemblages, and portraiture. His art has been shown locally at many venues including the Nyack Library, Nyack ArtWalk, Second Annual Window Project, RoCa. Earlier this year Ed was a featured lecturer at the Hopper House.
Some of Ed Kirkland’s work is now on display at the Gedney Street Project Visitor Center, 70 Main St & Broadway in Nyack, Wed-Sun from 2p-9p.
- Nyack People & Places: 2017 Art Walk Remembered, 6/21/2017
- Nyack Window Project: “Santa Causes”, 12/31/2016
- Local Arts Index: Ed Kirkland, 1/23/2014
Michael Hays is a 30-year resident of the Nyacks. He grew up the son of a professor and nurse in Champaign, Illinois. He has recently retired from a long career in educational publishing with Prentice-Hall and McGraw-Hill. He is an avid cyclist, amateur historian and photographer, gardener, and dog walker. He has enjoyed more years than he cares to count with his beautiful companion, Bernie Richey. You can follow him on Instagram as UpperNyackMike.
Nyack People & Places features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY.
Sponsored by the Gedney Street Project.