“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
Philip K. Dick
“Edward Woltemate, Jr. creates art that takes you to another world. His brilliant art has bright colors and out-of-this-world design. Despite being born a deaf mute, his art captures you in his fantasies and takes you on an adventure into the unknown. Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, he enjoyed spending summers at his grandparents’ home at the Jersey shore, along with his two sisters (one is also a deaf mute) and his brother.
Eddie has a keen sense of humor which has carried him through the darker places in his life and can be seen in the serendipity of his art. Eddie went to two primary schools, American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, and The Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Philadelphia. He has had a lifelong interest in the extraterrestrial and his characters and spacescapes are detailed as never before imagined.
Eddie has traveled extensively with his wife, Elaine, taking photographs and blending his inspiration and vision into his art. Although he works on his drawings every day, he finds time for three grandchildren and hobbies such as photography and gardening. He loves to shop and go to museums and is always thinking about what his next drawing will be.” – Ed Woltemate, Jr. website
“Ed Woltemate, Jr. is a very organized man with a logical mind. Most of his work is accompanied by a kind of ‘legend’ on the back that describes the climate, topography, atmosphere and many other intricate details and characters of his imaginary worlds.
Ed Woltemate, Jr. has traveled extensively with his wife, Elaine, taking many photographs and blending his observation and impressions into his art. Although he draws every day, he also finds time for his three grandchildren and enjoys several hobbies including gardening, shopping, museum touring and photography.” –Ed Woltemate, Jr. artist statement at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
Ed Woltemate, Jr. creates worlds of wonder using simple materials like pencils and paper that transport the viewer to distant planets inhabited by intelligent beings who have advanced societies. The artist peoples these worlds with beings who are creative, beautiful and friendly and on the back of the finished work he provides a ‘legend’ that describes in great detail where the planet is conjunction to where we are on Earth. He even names each planet and their inhabitants. With the recent cosmological news that there are more than eight billion ‘Goldy Locks’ planets in the Milky Way alone, Woltemate won’t be running out of planets to describe any time soon.
Ed and I have been in several art shows together including Art Ability at Bryn Mawr Rehab, the Philadelphia Foundation and the Delaware Art Museum, I’ve been a long time fan. Science Fiction and alternate realities are an element of my own art with my ‘light being’ photography series but Ed is able to visualize the other-wordly without having to say a word. Whereas I have to explain to people what my art is about.
Each of his drawings is like watching a great Sci-Fi movie that allows the viewer to suspend belief and experience life on another planet for a while. It’s been said that art viewers spend about five seconds looking at art in a museum. But Ed Woltemate, Jr. art requires the viewer to take an astral trip of light years where a second expands into centuries, centuries into eons and eons into a kind of after-life and when you get back all your friends might be gone. Quantum physics works like that and he taps into that energetic time/space continuum vibe like Steven Hawking.
I had the opportunity to interview his lovely wife, manager and translator, Elaine Woltemate, at the opening of Autodidactic Ingenism, the Coalition Ingenu Collective of Self-Taught Artists at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens:
How long have you been working with Coalition Ingenu?
“Gee whiz, we’ve been with Coalition Ingenu for about two and a half years. I have been more or less managing Ed’s art for a while and Robert Bullock has been a great help. But I’ve taken different routes also with Ed’s art and I plan to continue to do that. We’re trying to get into different places than we’ve been before, we’ve been successful in the last couple of years with Bryn Mawr Rehab Art Ability, Moss Rehab, the disabled artists venues. Bryn Mawr Rehab’s Art Ability has three of his pieces this year, the opening is November 2nd. Then on November 9th we’re at Main Line Art Center, we sold a nice piece there about two or three months ago.”
Amie Potsic is a friend of mine.
“She’s very young to have the position she holds, don’t you think? Everybody looked young there! Through a friend of ours we were introduced to an organization called Build a Bridge, it’s a volunteer organization that gets funds for the homeless and different people throughout the city that need assistance, Build a Bridge is having a gala and we offered to donate a piece of art.
My friend told me a little about what was going on, I thought Eddie’s art would fit in with that. They said that if he could create a drawing that depicts ‘Hopeful City‘ they would like to use that. So he made a beautiful drawing, something totally different than what he’s used to of Rittenhouse Square. It’s going to be auctioned off at Build a Bridge, it’s purely because we have been so fortunate in the last few years that it was time to give back, So Edward is going to be involved in that and we’re excited about it!
It doesn’t mean any money for us but I think it will be great exposure and it’s something different for him. As I said, we have been very fortunate, maybe not dollar-wise but just in the people we’ve met, you know? And the venues that we’ve been in, we’ve been very fortunate lately, so, like I said, it’s time to give back.”
But how can people buy your work besides this show?
“We have a website http://www.edwardwoltematejr.com/index.html. We’re on facebook but I’m not very technical. Robert sees me as a good manager of Eddie’s art, I’m going to have to get more technologically savvy. I’m soliciting my son already, he’s at University of Pennsylvania and teaches computer science. So I’m giving him lunch and getting lessons.
Do you sell prints?
“No, we don’t. And do you know why? I really feel like we’ve come to a point where we have to do something different, not just sell the originals all the time, maybe that’s another step we should take because originals only last for so long (in stock).
How would you describe Ed’s work?
“Unique is kind of an over-used phrase but his art doesn’t fit any category. It doesn’t fit outsider, it doesn’t fit visionary – it’s kind of his own vision of different planets, different galaxies. It’s very different than any other art out there. Maybe that’s why we have sold to gallery owners and collectors that have more of an appreciation than the general public. As far as describing his work – it’s in his own category. It’s Edward Woltemate, jr.” – Elaine Woltemate
Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.
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