Edward Marecak
The Argument
1966

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About

Presented in a custom frame, outer dimensions measure 31 ¼ x 47 ¼ x 2 ¼ inches. Image size is 29 ¾ x 45 ¾ inches.
Provenance: Estate of Edward Marecak

About the artist:
Many who took art classes in Denver high schools fondly remember the legendary Edward Marecak. Rather than pursue fame, this prolific artist directed his zeal toward fostering younger generations in the principles of art as well as his simple philosophies. Moreover, his teaching salary allowed him to ply his prodigious talent at whatever he pleased, instead of bending to the dictates of trends and sales. Having inherited his faith in education from his Slovakian immigrant parents, Marecak could add the shaping of lives to his mastery of art forms, including lithographs, monoprints, drawings, hooked rugs, ceramics, paintings, wood sculptures, stained-glass windows, and jewelry. While exhibiting in his lifetime, he was, in his wife’s words, “his own greatest collector,” but recent shows and his popularity at the Kirkland Museum have positioned Marecak posthumously among Colorado’s preeminent modernists.

Growing up in the farming community of Brunswick, Ohio, he showed early artistic promise, hired by the National Youth Adminstration to document historic barns. Study began in earnest at the Cleveland Institute of Art and then Cranbrook, only to be interrupted by service in World War II as an Army ski trooper in the Aleutians where he was badly wounded. In 1946, Marecak came to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center for a year and after a semester interlude at Cranbrook returned to study lithography with Lawrence Barrett. There he also met his future wife and sometime collaborator, ceramicist Theresa Madonna (Donna) Fortin. Given the opportunity to teach a summer course at the University of Colorado, he decided to obtain a teaching certificate at the University of Denver and subsequently embarked on his twenty-five-year career in the Denver Public School system.

As a child, Marecak was enthralled by the Carpathian tales of magic and supernatural beings told by his grandmother. As with other artists with roots in Eastern Europe, his artistic turn to folk tradition would free him from learned practices of perspective and modeling in favor of flat patterns within patterns and brilliant, throbbing color. While others ventured further into abstraction, Marecak stylized figurative elements into crowded compositions that appeared like mosaic or stained glass. As he matured, he could declare, “I am still very much a Byzantine designer and my joy with what color can do grows all the time.” The traceries of strong outlines and bold shapes provide compartments for vibrant colors, contrasts, and rough textures that can scarcely be contained.

Red is the dominant color of his palette. As in Eastern European folk art, it embodies the life-giving force of blood as well as love and passion. If as his wife suspects, Marecak never forgot the brutal cold of the Aleutians, perhaps the blaze of red that distinguishes his artwork may have been a steady fire. Traveling to Colorado for her fashion show in 1966, designer Adele Simpson discovered and bought Marecak’s work, which influenced her next clothing line. Calling her collection “The Art of Living,” she incorporated his ethnic patterning and characteristic “Marecak red” and green, anticipating hippie couture of the late 60s.

Gaining national attention, Marecak was spotted by Hollywood producer Hugh Benson, who sponsored a show off 220 works at Martin Lowitz Gallery, Beverly Hills, in 1968. Bemused by the experience, the artist wrote, “…the scale and style of the production was so wonderfully operatic that I came away delighted and full of chuckles — pink plastic flamingos had nothing on this.” Later his amusement turned to disenchantment, when the gallery owner died and the Marecak’s works were included in the IRS seizure of property. The artist largely withdrew from exhibiting, with a show near the time of his death at Rule Gallery. In his last requests, he asked that his ashes be strewn in his garden around a big peace rose, a variety so-named at the end of WWII and appropriately displaying a golden yellow edged with crimson pink.
Upon closing his Inkfish Gallery in 1997, Paul Hughes, who had previously given Marecak a one-man show, chose to go out with what critic Michael Paglia called a “blaze of glory,” showing the deceased artist work. The Kirkland Museum staged a retrospective of Edward and Donna Marecak in 2007.
©David Cook Galleries

Details

  • Condition
    Excellent
  • Dimensions
    31.25 in. H x 47.25 in. W x 2.25 in. D
  • Seller Location
    Denver, CO
  • Reference Number
    LU2732532541
About the Seller

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Located in Denver, CO

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