Edward A. Sanders, born Dec. 1, 1946, was 59 when he died Aug. 17. I knew Ed as one of the city’s most enigmatic and authentic artists: a painter of richly dark figurative and abstract work that, although Ed was fundamentally moved by light, were almost devoid of it in the literal sense. Instead, the light showed itself like lightning bolts: sudden shivers of hope encased in the darkness of what Ed explored as an individual and as a painter. An architect as well, his voice was among the most fully realized of the artists who orbited his circle and his generation. In remembrance of Ed, we hear from other voices who recall the man and the artist. He will be terribly missed.
Ed didn’t paint like anyone else in town. And I have to say that may be because it often seemed that Ed was trying to tackle bigger game than most artists attempted — here or anywhere else. Ed’s painting seemed like a no-holds-barred wrestling match with existence. If he sometimes seemed old-fashioned, I think it may have been because he painted as if painting really mattered — as if the truth itself depended on it.
Whenever I visited my friend, the artist Brian Fick, in the Faris building, Ed was always in his studio. He used so much paint that he’d squeeze out the paint by stepping on tubes. I imagined he did this because his hands would get tired if he had to squeeze the numerous tubes … There was an inside joke that there was more money’s worth of paint in a Sanders painting than the asking price of the work.
Ed had a show of drawings at Hot House Art Gallery … huge charcoal drawings of religious iconography — Jesus on the cross, several Pietas. I think it was courageous of Ed to tackle this subject matter at a time when most Christian icons were being mocked or abased for somewhat dubious reasons. And to take this courage coupled with his enormous talent and succeed in producing authentic emotional versions of traditional icons and allegories is highly admirable.
—Richard Cripe, Port Ewen, N.Y.
I always thought that it was funny that Ed insisted on windows in his studio, but he would cover them to block out any light and painted at night and almost every night. His influences included Francis Bacon, the Dutch masters and anyone who really focused on light as he did … He was looking for beauty in dark places … Always struggling to make the perfect painting … while struggling with commercial success because every dealer (except myself and Bill Adkins [of 431 Gallery]) wanted him to brighten things up.
A rather famous (commercially successful) Indiana painter once came in to my gallery in the Murphy Art Center. We had never met, he just wanted to check out the place. There was a large show of Ed’s work on the walls. After a few minutes he yelled, “Wow! This shit is amazing! It makes me want to be a real painter again. I have to pay the bills you know.”