was nine when his family moved from Chicago to Seattle, Washington. His home
was within blocks of the Seattle Art Museum. Looking back, the hours spent
there may have sown the seeds of a life in art.
As a teen, his interest in art grew, painting in a small home studio and
taking as many art courses each semester as his high school would allow.
in industrial design at the University of Washington soon gave way to sculpture
where Everett DuPen, George Tsutakawa and Charles Smith each provided unique opportunities to learn. Ned's painting
instructor, Bill Hixson, introduced him to the "continuum", a concept
in art that the elements in a work create balance and relate to one another paving
a pathway upon which the viewer can travel. That drives his work even today. Windsor
Utley at Cornish School added to his knowledge with one-on-one
"crits" of his flat art. Classes in architecture and engineering
taught him how to make pieces that don’t fall down or crumble under their own
college, he set out on a career in Seattle as a graphic designer and copywriter.
He became the creative director in the local office of a national advertising
agency. In that role he developed expertise in the mechanics of film, TV, and radio. Ten years later Ned
decided to leave the agency to freelance and concentrate on writing and
producing broadcast advertising and trade films. He continued to work with
clients in the areas of graphics and advertising services. Throughout his
advertising career fine art took a back seat in his life.
not sure if he just became bored or whether a "thing unfulfilled" asked
his attention. It was 1990, when he told family and friends, "I think I'm going to be a sculptor! You can imagine how that was received!" It was tough
at the start because he didn’t have a body of work. Undaunted, he was able to
muddle through the first year or so. He'd show anywhere he was asked.
in school he worked a lot with welded steel. Now he combined that with
polyester and polyurethane resins. The effect was unique, but the acceptance
was slow in coming. "Plastic?" he was asked. He'd launch into a
description of how it wasn't. His wife, Julie, was less patient, "Space
Age materials", she would retort.
forms and their goofy ways held a fascination for him. A piece he had created
years back had been destroyed and he set out to replicate it. Prophetically, he
named it, "The Phoenix", as his sculpture career was about to "rise
again". The piece ended up four times larger and not exactly a "look
alike". It was then that Ned found he had no replicating skills. Oddly, his hands seem to be driven by what's in his soul. The Phoenix
was chosen for the Permanent Collection of the Kirkland, Washington Public
had some early success and in 1992 Gloria Runnings in Seattle's Pioneer Square agreed
to give him a show. It was well-attended and well-received. On the closing of
the Runnings Gallery, his "home" for the next four years was the
Patricia Rovzar Gallery across the lake in Kirkland. Patricia understood the
work. "Steel and Resin"...it's a hard sell.
1994 The American Art Company in Tacoma, Washington took on this "no-name" sculptor and is still representing
his sculpture, twenty-six years later. "Prelude" was the centerpiece
in 1995 at the Bedford Gallery Collector's Show in Walnut Creek, CA. Bay area galleries began showing his work.
By 1999 the kids were
married and the dog died. It was time for a change. Julie and Ned found their way sixty miles north of Seattle to more
rural Camano Island with its active art community, room to work...and lots of
birds. The timeliness of a new century and a new beginning seemed to work well.
He joined a small band of Camano Island artists in founding the Camano Arts
Association where over the next ten years he served as a board member,
vice-president, president, and treasurer...not all at the same time! The CAA
created a three-day public tour of area art studios and he opened his studio to
over 500 visitors each year.
Take a look at Ned's
Resume. Through the years his sculpture has been exhibited here and there in the
Seattle area, but even more so in the cities of the Southwest; San Francisco,
Carmel, Sacramento, Palm Desert, Phoenix, and Sedona. He was invited to participate
in the prestigious High Plains International Sculpture Show in Loveland,
Colorado three years running where a university in the Midwest and a museum on
the East Coast acquired his work. In 2014 a solo sculpture show in Eugene, Oregon,
gave him his first opportunity to present fourteen pieces in one venue...sort
of a "mini retrospective".
Sometimes his "birds" can only exist in the
imagination of the beholder. Don't waste your time out in the woods with your
binoculars and don't expect Ned to sculpt robins nesting or eagles soaring. You
will find in some works the essence of flight and in others, moments in
the everyday life of his fabulous feathered friends. Water birds are Ned's
favorite subject with their long, skinny legs and claw-like feet that he
"manufactures" in steel. It's not all serious to him. Watching the
birds on his beach gave him inspiration when they do something completely
un-birdlike. Often that results in a more humorous approach to the next
2016 marked another major change for the sculptor. The Island had served him well, but a move back to Seattle presented an opportunity for a larger audience, closer access to his suppliers, and more time with his family and friends. He established a studio at Equinox, a four building complex of working artists in the South Seattle's Georgetown district. The monthly open houses provided a venue where hundreds visited his studio.
His abstractions of the graceful, droll, often “quirky
nature” of nature, rarely miss an opportunity to opt for form over reality. One
of his birds has three wings. Nobody has called him on that, yet, but getting
away with things isn’t really his way. Ned feels It’s
an artist’s responsibility to constantly challenge the work’s
ability to explain itself. The creating
can lead you astray and "you’ve
gotta know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em. Good enough is not
good enough. I believe an artist knows when
it isn't his best."
Some of his sculpture is pure FORM. Form is the most
important element to him and many pieces just don't fit in the bird world. The
goal is always to create sculpture which is graceful in motion, balanced in
form, and representative of the best he can do. If he occasionally adds a bit
of whimsy, that's OK too. Ned says his art will continue to evolve. He reflects
that the years have been exciting, demanding...and rewarding. Does he love creating sculpture? You bet!