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KRSL.com Special: Artist With Whimsical Flair Dies Suddenly

Eric AbrahamEric Abraham was respected as an artist, businessman and a wonderful friend to all who knew him.

"Eric could be half a block away on Main Street in Lucas and he would wave big. He always had a smile and sparkle in his eyes," said Connie Dougherty, Lucas Area Chamber of Commerce Co-Director.

Eric passed away Friday evening after complications from surgery at the VA Hospital in Leavenworth, KS. He was 76 years of age.

Both of Eric's parents were artists, who met working on the WPA Artist and Writers Project in New York City illustrating children's books for the Public Schools of New York City. Eric was born on November 27, 1936 in Harlem, New York.

Art has been a part of Eric's life since he was born. His mother gave him pencils and paper a lump of Plasticene clay as well as encouragement. After a four year enlistment in the Air Force, he enrolled at the Kansas City Art Institute and became a Sculpture Major and later on to painting. At that time there was not a Ceramics Major, but he took several semesters of ceramics.

During this time he met and married a fellow student Judy Love. After completion at the Art Institute he worked for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City for a little over a year and a half. To that union a child, Sara Mercedes, was born. The young family moved to Santa Fe and Madrid, New Mexico for a year. At that time Eric started making art on his own and building up a group of works before he was invited to attend graduate school at the University of Nebraska majoring in Ceramics (1969).

He taught at Kansas State University for 2 years. Since that time he had been making art as fast as he could mix clay. He and Judy divorced in 1974, but remained very good friends. Vail, Colorado was Eric's next "home." For several years he lived in a 1950 Chevy school bus and set up a studio (ceramics) where ever he lived. He taught at the Summer Vail Art Workshops for about 12 summers. In 1982 he settled in Denver, Colorado and worked at Santa Fe Pottery for 16 years.

Then in 1983 he met Ruth DeOreo and they were together until his passing. Eric enjoyed doing large ceramic work, which included several wall murals, bathroom sink and mirror sets. He also built (created) two large fire breathing dragons, which are installed in Chicago. One was presented on the "Today" show. He was also a featured artisan on the Lynette Jennings Design Show on the Discovery Channel.

Even though Eric made many of his big pieces with sculptural stoneware he made the switch to porcelain in about 1985 when he realized that to get the bright colors he needed a white background.

The building he lived in in Denver sold in 1998 and the rent tripled. He moved his studio and home to Wabaunsee, Kansas in 1999 and lived in an 1890 wooden schoolhouse with an old doublewide trailer for a studio. In March 2004 he bought a 6,000 square foot ex-auto dealership building in Lucas, Kansas.

Eric bought Yarnell's Chevrolet building and transformed it into his home and studio for all to enjoy. He easily became a part of what makes Lucas so unique from all of the other towns. His trademark of a Flying Pig was everywhere...on his vehicle, his door, the bags he put his artwork in...everywhere. He was a member of the Lucas Area Chamber of Commerce and also the Grassroots Art Center Board of Directors. He was instrumental in helping with the now famous Bowl Plaza. His work is seen outside under the lid (and seating) as the porcelain drain where you can find all things that might go down the toilet. He even put a puppy dog at the drain like it was drinking.

News of his death has hit the community quite hard. "I'm going to miss his smile and greeting on his way to get mail," said Von Rothenberger, Lucas Area Chamber of Commerce Co-Director. The Grassroots Art Center will also miss him tremendously as his art and studio were a part of their tour. He also frequented the Center when he would like some ice cream. He didn't have a freezer at his home/studio and the Grassroots Art Center let him keep his ice cream in their freezer.

He leaves to mourn his daughter, Sara Mercedes and a grandson, Praxis, and companion Ruth DeOreo.

An Eric Abraham Memorial Potluck will be held at the Zeandale Community Center near Junction City, Kansas, Saturday, September 14 at 4 PM. The family is putting together a memorial online with more information at a later date.

(Story courtesy of Rita Sharp, Lucas-Sylvan News)

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