Andrew Turner

American (1944–2001)

About the artist:

Andrew Turner was born in 1944 in Chester, Pennsylvania. He was a graduate of Temple University's Tyler School of Art. Andrew's work has been widely acclaimed, with many solo exhibitions and participation in group exhibitions. He has taught art in grades K-1 2 in the Chester, Pennsylvania Public Schools and in correctional centers. His appointments include Artist-in-Residence and Curator, Deshong Museum, Chester, PA; Lecturer, Widener University; Lecturer, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; and, he toured and lectured in The People's Republic of China. Collections which hold Andrew's paintings include Woody Allen, Dr. Maya Angelou, ARCO Chemical Company, Bell Telephone Company, Dr. Constance Clayton, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Cosby, Edie Huggins, Eric Lindros, Mr. and Mrs Louis Madonni, Moses Malone, Penn State University, the artist formerly known as Prince, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Sorgenti, Swarthmore College, Mrs. Marilyn Wheaton, and Widener University Deshong Museum, just to name a few. He has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions and group exhibitions in the United States and abroad. His Philadelphia commissions include: WDAS FM (1996); Marco Solo, (published by J. Schwinn and G. Harlow, illustrated by Andrew Turner) Reverse Angle Productions, Inc. (I 995); and Robin Hood Dell, Fairmount Park (1985). "My paintings combine the drama inherent in seventeenth century Dutch painting with the brush work and the economy of the Impressionists. However, I look to the jazz idiom more so than to other contemporary visual artists for guidance and inspiration. I tend to measure the success of my pieces by how they stand up technically, emotionally and innovatively to a Coltrane solo or whether I've captured the spirit of the occasion, a la Ellington. The subject matter, sometimes nostalgic recollections of my days as a young tough, covers a myriad of common folk activities. The setting usually my native Chester, is a beehive of creative stimulation or a deteriorating ghetto depending on my state of mind. At the very least, hopefully, these vignettes of experience will help to provide insight into some African American lifestyles and serve as an inspiration to my students and others to continue the legacy of African American participation in the arts." ___________________ ___________________ An Appreciation (Biography) by James Caplan Andrew Turner grew-up in Chester, Pennsylvania, a classic American mill-town. He was born in 1943.I knew him during the last six years of his life. Knowing him, I got the feeling that he had hitched himself to a rollercoaster for the last years of his life, cascading the highs and the lows of tumultuous West Philly, USA. Hopefully, he will find the peace and comfort in death that he never found in life. Turner’s life was his art. He is important to art because his painting embodied four visual dimensions: representational, expressionist, abstract expressionist, and improvisationalist the latter consisting of jazz currents crafted in colors applied to surfaces. Andrew was very conscious of the tumult in his life; he could never become master of his own destiny. He was locked-into himself; he did not possess the key to his own earthly existence. Of course, had his life been any different, Turner would not have been Turner, as van Gogh would not have been “van Gogh.” Had his life been one of happiness and recognition rather than a life of disappointment, isolation, obscurity, and loneliness his inner drives transmitted to canvas. Everything I knew about Turner during the end years of his life was chaotic and wrought in struggle, always with one arm out of the grave holding a brush and a soul reaching to the heavens. Just look at his brush strokes; they tell the tale of his life: swirling, twisting, pulsing, halting, rising, falling, fast, and spontaneous; Andrew, an expressionist of the first order. His gnawing dream was to reunite with the “Jersey” woman who once threw him out. He yearned to get back in. In our discussions, it seemed that earning her renewed acceptance would have been more important to him then having gotten major recognition as an artist. Andrew got neither the woman nor the recognition. That dream remained a dream by virtue of the failed mechanics of his life. Turner wanted back in; oh, how badly he wanted her back! She was for Turner the bourgeois, the conventional world that he had rejected and that, in turn, had rejected him; rejected because of the isolation and extremely unconventional life he had created for himself. Conventional people bought his paintings, particularly the figurative expressionist paintings that they could understand. Those conventional paintings were the surface outcroppings of a more complex and melodious painter, a painter with jazz music in his soul yearning to emerge on canvas by his hand, the hand of a lyrical poet and a musician wielding a brush (see HANDS, below). Turner wanted “to do good,” to do the conventional well, but Turner was so far outside of “convention” that there was no joining the “establishment” and there was no going back. He personified the classic “you can’t go home again.” Towards the end of his life, his mission was to go beyond the pictorial, even beyond abstract expressionist composition, by extracting the music and the rhythm embedded within life’s scenes and painting them as sounds. Here, again, he was further distancing himself from convention He lived in squalid degradation. He built his life into a gulag of the streets of Philadelphia, for him an internment camp without barbed wire, housing one lonely ambulatory inmate of his own creation. Andrew told me that in 1994 he had earned $125,000 (cash) and paid no taxes, and that in 1995 he had earned $75,000. I asked him, “So, Andrew, why the hell didn’t you buy a place of your own?” “I fucked-up, Jim; it’s gone. I blew it.” Years earlier, why did he forgo security by rejecting a safe position at Widener University in Chester, teaching art for 10 hours a week? What about teaching art in the Chester public schools? “I didn’t want to teach.” His mother used to call me from Chester: “Hello, this is Mrs. Davis, Andrew’s mother. Where’s Andrew?” I would say: “I’ll have him call you when he comes around.” His mother was there for him, a gravitational force that held him, ever so precariously, to the earth. She had a loving rich deep voice, a voice echoing a persistent yearning, a loyal voice that contained so much frustration reflecting so many hopes swept away by life’s sometimes cruel and sometimes passive currents. She spoke her words slowly and clearly, like a sad ballad weaving itself through the years of her life. When he was in her favor he was Andrew; out of favor he was Turner. In February of 2001, I last saw Andrew living in a worn-out fourth floor Powellton Village walk-up flat with dirty pots, plates and cups, and foul odors, and encrusted paint, and trash, and garbage, and filth strewn overall. I left him an advance of $600 and suggested that he paint a crucifixion. What else could possibly come to mind in those living conditions, the stench rising as if from the bowels of the earth? I told Andrew I’d come by next Saturday to pick it up. I never saw that painting. Andrew hustled it on the street for fifty-bucks before I had returned to fetch it. Turner looked bad. I left him with another hundred and thought to myself, “There but for the grace of G-d go I.” Andrew was dead within the next three months, just before some new angel was going to have put him up in Southwest Philadelphia, in the Korman Suites, no less; another shot at resurrection for Andrew! It was not to be; the sentence was crucifixion by the microbes of some form of tuberculosis. G-d took him from his earthly ruin and robbed him of respite in sanitary middle-class digs at the Korman Suites. And, tuberculosis, a disease associated with “bad air,” a disease that adds insult to the injury of poverty. In the 1940's and 1950's, the City of Chester was a booming working-class venue where the shot-and-a-beer was the standard in the bars that occupied every street corner. Nothin' was politically correct in those days. Either you had a tough skin and a good set of balls or you had to get out of that town or cower in the shadows of the evil forces of brutal urban Darwinism. Blacks had their world, and they divided that world into those Baptists who went to church and those who did not. There were plenty of Black of bums and drunks and outcasts. The Whites had their divisions. There were the Polish, the Italians and the Irish Catholics, with all their antipathies towards one another, and there were the Protestants, and the other believers, and the non-believers; and, there were plenty of White bums and drunks and outcasts. What was common to all the groups was that each had choice expletives for every other group. After a while, after you had heard the trigger words repeatedly (nigger, wop, mic, honky, motherfucker, Pollock, and white trash), the venom had lost its surface sting, though it had become the iron core of an embittered soul. Then, there was the whole class of bitches, classified according to their expanse of booty. The cynicism of the city tore humanity to its core; nothing was sanctified. Either it broke you or you rose above it. I never heard Andrew talk this kind of trash; he never talked anyone down. Andrew saw it all and chose the high road. Like all humanistic visionaries, Andrew was above the impulse to degrade any other human being. Why, because he had SO MUCH good stuff within himself that he did not have to tare anyone else down to step up. To the extent that Andrew’s art mastered this earth’s woes and rose above them, to that extent he had liberated himself. Andrew was a street-walking existentialist, a unique character who navigated through streets and personalities like a character in a Bosch, Brueghel, or Hogarth painting depicting the varieties of mankind. From his down-and-out world, he created an enduring legacy, the paintings he has left us. Chester was a war production town during WWII. Thousands of men and women migrated there from the agricultural hinterlands during the Second World War to make money by making ships and turbines and engines and cars and oil and chemicals and locomotives and paper, products that were sent all over the world. Back then, the factories were running two-to-three shifts. Everyone worked on Saturdays; a forty-eight hour week; Money. Money. Money, and the expended and worn-out souls who produced it. Ford Motor Company had a plant in Chester, a plant that would later be run by Lee Iacocca, the future turn-around specialist at Chrysler. Scott Paper was there in full force; Baldwin's made locomotives; Sun Oil refined oil, and J. Howard Pew, the son of the founder of Sun Oil, rode in a chauffer driven Cadillac with a pair of overalls in the truck...anytime there was an emergency, J. Howard was there to help put out the fire. He visited the sick in the hospital and at their homes. J. Howard always had a buck for an underdog and millions for himself. Chemical and petroleum refineries and dozens of heavy machine shops and foundries billowed-out smoke around-the-clock. Famous Philadelphia names like Lippencott and Hamilton and Pew and McCabe and Dorrence and Wood (up in Conshohocken) ruled. At shifts end, the workers would pour out of the plants and into the bars. Women had a separate back entrance. SMOKE. Smoke on the job and smoke in the bars. Jazz was born out of the smoky haze of bars. When darkness descended, Jazz rose out of the mist, the smoke, and the perfumed bodies that masked the body-odor of labor. The nightlife was as vibrant as the factories were turbulent. Jazz and the blues were alive in Chester. As a boy, Turner would wander by the various haunts and observe the spontaneity, the tumult, the smoke, and the sensuality of this life in the raw, with no limit to the persistent yearnings of body and soul expressed in music and dance. Tall for his age, Turner eventually ventured into the bars long before his time. Turner absorbed the sounds and the action. Years later, he carried that youthful imprint directly onto canvases, scrap boards, and bed sheets. Andrew painted on the discarded urban refuse thrown onto the inter-city streets. Turner was to castaway surfaces (junk) what Emma Lazarus was to the immigrants who landed destitute on the shores of America, “Give me you’re tired, you’re poor, you’re huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” Turner was the street collector, the dumpster-diver, the repository of castaway trash. In his own-way, he flirted with divinity. He and his brush enabled the RESSURRECTION of the junk that came his way, the resurrection of refuse into swirling beauty. “Give me you worn-out, your cast-away, the piled refuse of your industrial age…..” could have been Andrew’s anthem. Both his life and his art were a function of this struggle for resurrection, the artistic act of bringing renewed life to his battered self and to the discarded refuse of the declining industrial age and the banal obsessions of the consumer/waste society. Is there any wonder that he could paint such a powerful crucifixion? Equally poignant was the contrast between the artistic temperament of Andrew Turner, this omniscient, all-knowing, all-seeing Powelton Village bohemian, and the neighboring materialist-functionalism of Drexel University and the unbelievable wealth of The University of Pennsylvania, where the indulged sons and daughters of wealth navigate their endless BMW’s through the worn-out and impoverished streets of West Philadelphia, living on budgets (!) in excess of $3000 per month. Turner lived impoverished in the shadow of this academic world where, yearly, thousands of words describing the underclass are collected into theses that, amongst other issues, estimate the population of the illiterate and the impoverished citizens of the United States to be about 45,000,000 out of 300,000,000. Almost in spite of academia, so many issues of poverty go uncared for and unresolved. And, so few of the poor are able to pull themselves up by their own boot-straps and find the key to the ghetto door. Ironically, the number of dog owners in the USA is 44,000,000! What utter disparity! About the same number of dogs are fed and cared for as human beings who go about undernourished, illiterate and without health insurance; Turner’s world, the other side. Some came to America by choice; some came from the African shores by no choice of their own. The latter were gathered-up up by the Asanti and Taureg tribes in West Africa and were sold and brokered through to the shores of the Americas. It was a genocidal journey. The struggle for social justice was long and never fully resolved. Turner was a Black man whose artistic skill put him above the psychologically draining mental hell of perceived injustice. As with my good friend and Andrew’s acquaintance, Jerome Robinson, a Black Philadelphia “Wheels of Soul” sculptor and painter and tattoo artist (who was dead by Black-on-Black murder at age 50 in February, 2003), whose motto was “Art is my religion,” Andrew’s art was, too, his religion. Like jazz, an expression of inner waves of rhythm and motion that rose out of the antebellum American plantation slave culture, that transcended the social injustice that nurtured it, Turner’s painting ascended above the urban street culture through which he wandered daily. His abstract “music” on canvas rose beyond the mundane and the pedestrian and into a melodic spiritual realm. Abstraction was the liberating force that enabled Turner to escape the grinding brutality of the harsh streets and the summer’s heat. The creation of RADICAL VISUAL ART, like the development of radical JAZZ, follows an evolutionary pattern, an internal argument that the classical Greeks recognized as a dynamic dialectical process of thinking. The 16th Century kabalist, Isaac Luria, was most likely influenced by the Greeks. Luria identified the phenomena as tzimtzum (contraction or thesis), shevirat hakeilim (breaking of the vessels), and tikkun (restoration), which some three centuries later was immortalized by Hegel to read “thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.” Marx and Engels applied the concept in attempting to describe revolutionary changes in social systems. One can argue that jazz progresses from an existing sound pattern, that it experiences radical improvisations, and that it culminates in a “synthesis,” an encompassing state of all that went before it. Synthesis, in its turn, is a temporal end-point, having gotten there by struggling with the yin and yang, the dark and light that ushered in a new state of temporary equilibrium. The synthesis, which, in its turn, will be challenged by a new round of discovery and improvisation and syntheses. Painting, the creation of visual images on a defined surface using a plastic medium, is far more limited than the infinite auditory expanse of sound. Because of its relative limitations, radical painting struggles to rise to the level of music and rarely succeeds. Few painters travel this path and of those that attempt it, few succeed. Within the first ten years of the 20th Century, Vasili Kandinski was able to successfully navigate the dialectical path, having begun rather late in his life to learn painting. Beginning with representational compositions of Russian folk subjects, he evolved very rapidly into a painter of abstract images that mirrored the most radical of musical compositions. Poetically, he linked-up with the composer Arnold Schoenberg in 1911, joining on the highest level the dialectical painter with the dialectical, atonal composer. Kandinski's later work appears to be a retreat from the radical synthesis he had earlier achieved, far less exciting than his first radical departures (antitheses) from his paintings of conventional, mundane Russian folk myths. Later, Paul Klee struggled with music’s relationship to painting, with less success than Kandinsky. I had numerous conversations with Turner about his conflict with painting representational art, that is, how he would progress along the dialectical path to new discoveries and challenges to what “was.” Deep down, Andrew did not want to continue painting jazz scenes, trumpet players, women looking into shop windows, church interiors, and piano players. He wanted to go further, to go beyond that repetitive reality that had been so much a part of his life. He wanted to capture the internal rhythm of life, the jazz sounds that reverberated in his mind, and carry the movement into a new sound, a new language. He wanted to implant Jazz onto canvas by mixing color, undulating brush strokes, creating mass, depth, and the pulsating waves of the inner voice of the painter. In order to support himself, Andrew was compelled to paint realistically. Realistic paintings sold easily. In the two years that he worked under my umbrella, he was free from the daily “paint-to-eat” struggle. Consequently, he created the most exciting work of his life, his lyrical abstract expressionist paintings. Andrew and I once discussed Jean-Michel Basquiat, the New York wall-graffitist who died at twenty-eight in 1988. Turner commented, “Hey, I saw his style all over the walls before ‘he was him,’ and I see him all over the city after he is gone. Nothin’ special; nothin’ new. DuBuffet was doing the same stuff 10 years before Basquiat. I’ve seen better graffiti and I’ve seen worse. Basquiat had good luck; he was Warhol’s boy.” Years later at the Brandywine River Museum I saw a preserved palette of Basquiat’s basic colors straight from the can, raw and neat. In comparison, a preserved palette of Turner’s, a 30 potted egg-tray of mixed and muted colors, showed a “painterly” trained palette. “But, Andrew, Basquiat is very powerful,” I said. “Yeh, Jim, raw and primitive…academic art destroys most of that spontaneity. That’s Basquiat’s luck! I had to relearn it; Basquiat never had the “privilege” of having it taken away form him!” On his best days, Turner expressed his own raw impulse as an artist of immediate experience, a spontaneous, albeit trained impulse. Andrew had mastered many compositional skills, the rapid strokes, the width of line, the dimensions of space, the mix of cacophonous and harmonious color, and the weaving of line through space, over and under other outcroppings of mass and line. That mastery of technique enabled him to create with speed and almost subconscious expression. Beyond the abstract imagery, Turner had a fast hand. He had gotten to the point that his brush strokes were instantaneous and rapid. This speed has a direct link through our eyes to our minds as it transfers to us the rapidity with which his compositions were created and as it approaches the speed with which our temporal minds are able to think thoughts. Turner’s work defies the “static” of conventional paintings because his work is rooted in his ability to convey kinetics, movement; again, movement that approximates our speed of conception. If there were not this rapid movement, his work would not have achieved the force and power that it does. Turner’s unique achievement was to transcend representational art by PAINTING MUSIC. I see the effort in other painters but I do not see the complete migration that Turner made where one can say, “Yes, that is JAZZ on canvas, pure and simple.” Most of what I have seen from others has not yet fully liberated itself from the figurative, or, in the Frank Stella School, even the Jackson Pollack world, the work appears flat. The effort to liberate oneself from the pictorial and to create visual music is an odyssey and a struggle. Currently, abstract expressionism is “taught” in the art schools to students who have not had much of a struggle with reality. Turner struggled with reality for some 40 years and evolved into abstract expressionism by pushing himself from within. It was a deep well from which to tap. One day Turner could no longer come safely back to my building at 6117-35 Market Street. He had to run for his life. A flash of viscous hate came like a sudden storm. Fortunately, for Andrew, I was warned that he was in trouble. I shuffled the lanky Andrew out a back cafeteria door onto Robinson Street. I admonished, “Get down to Vine Street, turn right, and move your ass as fast as your legs can carry you straight to the river. Don’t look back.” Andrew owed the Jamaican drug kings “big” money for weeks. They owned the 63rd. & Market Street corner and the surrounding turf. I intercepted them at the front door. “Where’s the tall Black dude with the hat?” I replied, “He didn’t show-up today.” “He’s a dead nigga,” one dread-locked viper said. “How much?” I asked. “Keep ya fuckin’ white-ass money, mother-fucker; we’re gonna get his nigga-ass.” Off they went. Andrew had beaten the clock. He could not come “home” again. Thereafter, I would hear about him from time to time. The gallerist, Sandy Webster, treated him well and stood by him during his lifetime (and thereafter). Evelyn and Mercer Red Cross recognized Andrew’s gift early on and continued to open many diverse eyes to his work. Others exploited him. He was back to hustling on the street, always on the street. One black dealer held back money on him and Andrew “liberated” his own paintings from the dealer’s house. The dealer caught Turner heading up 34th street with his own pictures under his arm. There was a fistfight. Andrew was hurt, he lay beaten up on the street. “The Black dude beat him up,” rippled through Powelton Village. The world beats down the great human spirits in the most humiliating ways: in this case, Black-on-Black. In the world of Noam Chomsky, (the privileged world of American academic anti-Americanism, where history has been distorted and is used selectively to fit a weak premise; the academics who would be crushed in any of the countries that Chomsky is so willing to support) it would have been convenient for Turner to have been exploited by “whitey” so that Chomsky’s shallow hypotheses of white imperialist exploitation might be made to appear valid and could have given Andrew a “reason” outside of himself for his own sorrows. Consistent with his life, defying the conventional, Andrew was the SELF-CREATED victim of all the contradictions that touched his life. He blamed no one but himself for not having established a firm position for himself on this earth. He put the lie to conventional narrow-minded and contradictory theories of exploitation and bias. “ECCE HOMO,” behold man, the Sisyphean challenge. Fortunately, like van Gogh and Soutine, white men ignored and rejected in their time, the best of Turner remains with us, and his paintings. Andrew never blamed the “system.” He did not fool himself and he was strong enough within himself never to take a “cop-out” for his own failures. He knew and behaved as a man; a man who was master of his sinking ship-of-life. He recognized that his ship sank or sailed by virtue of his own “will.” Ergo, above all else, he had in VIRTUE. Those bars of Chester were repositories of yearnings. Most yearnings were snuffed-out years before those bar seats were occupied. The blues and jazz transcribed and recorded those yearnings: the failures, the dashed dreams, the occasional but unsustainable successes, the injured and destroyed loves, the frequent injustices and deaths: the bitter and the occasional sweet acts of charity, compassion, and the yearnings. Jazz took mind beyond this mostly illogical and sometimes hurtful reality to a world Turner’s solidly rooted in Chester....rooted in its dirt, its smoke, its soot, its grayness, and its monotony. More than the influence of the street, even though Turner was able to abstract himself from it, the abstract developed its own internal logic, and in that sense exhibited form, depth, direction, and movement. That is, it became a language of its own. Whether abstract or realistic, every artist develops a language with which he transcribes his interpretation of his world…some interpret a real world, others create new worlds. Out, out and beyond, jazz transported the spirit into new and better worlds where there were sweet vibes and yellows and subtle blues and earth tones and flashes of reds, and all shades between, and a sound for the eye that had beautiful threads running through it, and a series of leitmotifs as intoxicating and indelible as the sound of running through Johannes Brahms and Gustavand John Coltrane and Miles Davis and around which was woven all the mellowness and tonality that was everywhere else absent in the soot and sweat and odor of Chester. From Chester, Turner migrated to Philadelphia. People “seen Turner.” “I SEEN TURNER.” He was the Black Gypsy of Philadelphia...mostly West Philadelphia. Regardless of what he earned by selling paintings to collectors, he continued to sell paintings on the street. He even sold paintings that he had already sold; after all, does an artist not always own his own work? Did he do drugs? Others said he did. At first, I never knew. I never noticed. I never wanted to invade his privacy, until the Jamaican dudes closed in on Andrew. A small ceramic white pipe once fell out of his pocket while we are hanging a picture; so what! Andrew’s mission was to push himself away from representational/expressionist painting and into musical abstract expressionism. That was the important matter. Drugs were an identity badge on the streets; the badge of persons who chose to opt out of the material struggle to raise the human spirit, to succumb to adversity. Andrew strattled both worlds on a daily basis. I was helping Turner to liberate himself form the mundane and elevate himself into the realm of the Whitney Museum of American Art, although that might be putting the current Whitney on too high a pedestal! The jazz that one could see in his expressionist paintings “of musicians” now transformed itself into the actual music of “JAZZ FOR THE EYE.” began to see jazz music on Turner's canvases. Turner had arrived. Turner had been able to go beyond the transcription of scenes and into the realm of creating jazz itself.....jazz created with colors and strokes and forms and blotches and tones......not depicting anything, but rather, creating music for the eyes. One has to keep saying that: “music for the eyes.” It takes a while for it to sink in... It is HUGE...to transcend the pictorial and to get fully into the realm of creating the infinity of music. After all, there is no pictorial example from which to copy. Yes, there is derivation in musical composition; Brahms’ 1st was Beethoven’s 10th. There is always some degree of derivation in sound and in vision, but out there infinite space of improvisational music, there is no snap-shot from which to copy; it flows by its own inner kinetics into infinity. Years later, after Andrew’s death, I came to recognize that Andrew had gone beyond interpreting reality. He was competing with reality! Had Andrew had a permanent studio he could have hung a plaque above the entrance: ENTER HERE NOT TO INTERPRET REALITY BUT TO COMPETE WITH IT. There is a quality of great art that is sensuous and above intellectual criticism. That is, THE INITIAL HIT, the high that a great composition inspires from the moment one views it. The bold stroke, the speed, the color field, the mood, the shock, the “NEW,” that special force that says to us, “wow, I have never been here before.” One says to oneself, “I have lived many years and I have never been struck this way until I looked at this painting. With all my knowledge and all my experience, I never thought there would be anything new under the sun, and yet here, now, at this moment, I am seeing something that defies and challenges all the paths I have taken, all that I have seen heretofore.” Turner still does that for me. HANDS… Hands played a major role in Andrew’s representational work. All Turner's hands are Turner’s hands. When most everything else is covered-up, the hands appear bare. They are the hands that do the physical work that life demands; they are the brain’s handmaidens. Turner was his hands and all the hands that he depicted were his. In his abstract work, his hands were swallowed into his compositions. Chester remained in Turner until he died. His mother outlived him there. He always said he was sending money to either his mother to his two children. Who knows what ever happened to the money. Again, Mrs. Davis would call me frequently: "Where is Andrew?” "Andrew, call your mother!” That was a link until the end, an umbilical cord, a perpetual STAR. Turner's work was painted with a rough brush often caked with paint from days past. Hardened...he painted as if he was scratching the surface and the colors were bleeding through to the canvas and then to the eye. The characters come out of their surroundings in a style that carries with it the unpolished texture of their working class world. Out of Chester came the jazz characters: the trumpeter, the bassist, the percussionist, and then, later, those characters evolved into the abstract expression of their essence, their sound in color and motion, an emotion devoid of representation. His work had transcended form and had reached a higher state, the actual state of creating the force that first propelled Turner into the world of art, jazz music. Ironically, that evolution is a flashback to Turner's formal education at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. He wrote his senior thesis on the art of Vasilli Kandinski, mentioned above, the ex-patriot Russian bourgeois (economist and lawyer by training) working in Bavaria, who revolutionized art some 8 years before Lenin, with the help of Germany, revolutionized Russia (1917). Out of Chester and the jazz figures of his time and place came a natural and logical evolution to abstract expressionism (to the essence of ALL THAT), and even beyond abstract expressionism to the improvisational creation of music with paint. THAT, then, is the natural harmony of Turner's life and work. Having traveled life’s path, having touched Kandinski in mind and in spirit, Andrew Turner takes his place on the high road of Western aesthetic achievement, an enduringly poetic tall man wearing a black hat, roaming the streets of West Philadelphia, “a magic theater, not for everyone.” James Caplan Bryn Mawr, PA. USA. July 8, 2006 Postscript: These gifted American artists, many of whom remained outsiders, who roam and roamed

Andrew Turner

American (1944–2001)

(10 works)

About the artist:

Andrew Turner was born in 1944 in Chester, Pennsylvania. He was a graduate of Temple University's Tyler School of Art. Andrew's work has been widely acclaimed, with many solo exhibitions and participation in group exhibitions. He has taught art in

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