......A Bio

Ned 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.

Studies 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 weight.

After 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.

Ned's 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.

When 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.

Bird 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 Library.

Ned 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.

In 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 project.

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!


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 Ned BlockSeattle, WA206.310.7200