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 Fred McCraw  (1932 - )

About: Fred McCraw


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Lived/Active: Missouri/Kansas/Ohio      Known for: landscape, wall sculpture, geo-abstraction, minimalism, space images

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BIOGRAPHY for Fred McCraw
1932 (Barberton, Ohio)

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landscape, wall sculpture, geo-abstraction, minimalism, space images

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from the artist:

Fred McCraw was born in Barberton, an Akron, Ohio suburb on February 7, 1932. His early schooling was in Barberton, Akron and Genoa in Ohio, and in Kansas City, Missouri, where he graduated High School in 1948. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps and attended the University of Kansas, Central Missouri State University and the University of Missouri at Kansas City, receiving an AB degree in English from UMKC in 1956 with majors in American Literature and Music Composition.

McCraw began a study of techniques and materials of painting during a seven-year friendship with Thomas Hart Benton, former head of the painting department at the Kansas City Art Institute. That friendship ended with the artist's death in 1975. After starting to paint in the early 1980s, McCraw was counseled and critiqued for a time by Dolya Goutman, Chair of the painting department at Moore College of Art and Design in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Though McCraw was largely a self-taught artist, he also gained insights into techniques of draughtsmanship from Michigan artist Reynold Weidenaar, a former instructor at the Kendall School of Design in Grand Rapids.

McCraw commenced painting at age 49 in late 1981. Aware that artists generally are poor record keepers, McCraw resolved that as he completed each painting, he would record its development (and his own development as an artist) in an art journal. That journal presently awaits publication.

In February 1985 two of the artist's 1984 paintings were juried into a Kansas Arts Commission exhibition at the Mulvane Art Center in Topeka, KS. Another of his 1984 paintings was selected as a semi-finalist a few months later in a four-state competition staged by the Nelson-Atkins Museum. The artist has been offered one-person museum shows, which he so far has declined. But he has shared his art with artists who have incorporated some of his discoveries in their own art.

Though his earliest work showed Taos School and Benton influences, his painting evolved steadily through seven distinct styles over a two-year period. This brought him by late 1983 to a unique palette and to what he later discovered (at a 1989 Tate Gallery Deconstruction Symposium in London) had been a deconstructionist approach to his evolving art.

Most of McCraw's mature images derive from previous ones. Each is a deconstruction of an earlier image that was itself abstracted from one still earlier. Though often not symmetrical, McCraw's images frequently have no clearly defined top and bottom so that they can be displayed in any of their four rotations, or, in a few cases, can be hung at an angle with only a corner at the top. Virtually all carry both technical and representational names (sometimes several of the latter).

From studies of Ellsworth Kelly's theories, McCraw's art eventually progressed into wall sculptures, i.e. three-dimensional canvases that incorporated the surrounding wall into the overall image. Concurrently, McCraw also began using the full 12-color spectrum, and/or parts thereof, as an additional subject within many of his works.

A vast open Colorado plateau scene with four foothill mesas is a recurring theme in McCraw's art. Reincarnations of this image appear at least once in each of the artist's seven styles.

These are private thoughts designed to help me think through your gracious invitation to submit a biography, but I see no harm in sharing them at some future date if you deem it appropriate. That said, I plunge ahead. I'm proud of my work and have prepared for publication a journal record that I kept on each painting as it was completed. That record is filled with observations about my work that issued from a parade of visitors who came for a variety of mostly unrelated reasons. These included museum directors, artists, gallery owners, art educators, art writers et al.

I have maintained a low profile with my painting for the most part, despite that it was my full time pursuit for several years. During those years (in the '80s), I entered state and regional juried competitions with gratifying results. A museum director, Dr. Wm. C. Landwehr (Springfield Art Museum in Springfield, Mo.), offered me a one-person show in the mid '80s, but I had ambitious works then in progress that I believed should be included. For that reason, I passed on the offer. He moved on, and the possibility existed for a museum show back east, but the logistics seemed a bit overwhelming and we never acted on it.

Over the years, a few other visitors (most were art world figures) have offered generous sums for certain of my paintings, and one gallery owner who became aware of the work asked me to show for sale in his gallery in a one-person show. That level of interest was sufficient to confirm the validity of my work and, not yet wishing to part with works that by the nature of deconstruction are inter-related, I have been content to leave it at that.

I make my living doing many art-related things and enjoy hanging my paintings as a permanent exhibition in my home. They number almost a hundred in all. Of course, there are hundreds of drawings associated with them as well.

I have many interests and life pursuits; writing is one. Others include advising and assisting artists such as Stan Herd in their careers and consulting to those managing the estates of artists. In fact, if it has to do with art, I am likely to be interested and almost as likely to be involved.

That said, I have decided at this stage in life to become a bit more public about the artist aspect of my life.

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