|Talisman of the Ward
The Album of Drawings by Edward Deeds
Hirschl & Adler Modern (The Crown Building)
Tuesday through Friday: 9:30-5:15
Closed Sunday and Monday
January 10-February 9, 2013
Edward Deeds (1908-1987) was born in Panama where his father was serving military duty as paymaster aboard the USS Marblehead. In 1912, the Deedses returned to the family homestead in McCracken, Missouri, where they settled as farmers.
Edward, the eldest of five siblings, had three sisters (Helen, Dorothy and Josephine) and a brother (Clay). He was a well-meaning but troubled youth who was increasingly clashing with his disciplinarian father. Initially relegated to a second house on the family property, the teenager became increasingly violent.
|Edward Deeds when he was 8 years old.
|Harris Diamant who purchased the album in 2007 of Edward Deeds drawings.
In 1936, after an attempted suicide, Edward Deeds was committed to State Hospital No. 3, (the Marshall school began in 1933). Diagnosed with dementia praecox and schizophrenia, Deeds would live there involuntarily for the next 37 years until being released to a nursing home.
State Hospital, No. 3, was an enormous palace-like structure designed under the Kirkbride plan, the predominant design theory behind mental institutions built in the 19th century. Psychiatrist Thomas Kirkbride, renowned for his practice termed “Moral Treatment” promoted the design of grand utopian sanctuaries. The humane physician believed that the best way to rehabilitate patients was by surrounding them with beauty, spaciousness, and outlets for productivity.
Thus it was that Edward Deeds during his long tenure at the hospital began drawing (Deeds was posthumously dubbed The Electric Pencil by Harris Diamant), executing 280 numbered drawings in ink, pencil and crayon. The drawings were done on both sides of 140 ledger pages, each bearing the name of the hospital. They were subsequently numbered and sewn into a handmade fabric and leather album.
Edward gave the album to his mother who in turn gave it to her youngest son Clay who would later, when moving, accidently gave it to the movers who would discard it as “useless.” Luckily, the portfolio was recovered from a trash bin by a 14-year-old boy named Reid Henderson. Henderson held on to it for 36 years — until he sold it in 2006 on E-bay to a bookseller who quickly resold it. That purchaser, feeling buyer's remorse, subsequently sold the portfolio to a Manhattan collector, Harris Diamant.
And that is how it has come to pass that a selection of 30 (or 60 if you count both sides) of these whimsical drawings are now installed at the Hirschl & Adler Galleries in an exhibition put together by Associate Director, Thomas Parker.
At last, the voice of Edward Deeds can be heard, his artwork seen, and his life remembered.