Philadelphia artist Walter Edmonds, 73

Walter Edmonds
Walter Edmonds
Posted: June 18, 2011

Philadelphia artist Walter Edmonds, 73, died of a heart attack Sunday, June 12, at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

In a review of "Biennial 2000: At the Crossroads," at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Inquirer art critic Edward J. Sozanski wrote that Mr. Edmonds was among those in the show who were prominent enough that their "absence would be conspicuous."

Mr. Edmonds was well-known for his work at the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia.

From 1973 to 1976, Mr. Edmonds and the artist Richard Watson, at the invitation of the Rev. Paul M. Washington, the longtime pastor of that Episcopal congregation, painted 14 murals inside the church.

In 2003, an Inquirer reporter wrote that they were still significant because of the "hallucinatory imagery that connects the Bible and the black experience of slavery and uprising - flaming heads and spurting blood, along with heroes ranging from Nat Turner and Harriet Tubman to Malcolm X."

The murals were also the centerpiece for "North & Beyond: The Mural Cycle," a 2003 multimedia performance at the church that followed a similar 2002 event there titled "North Called Home."

In 2000, The Inquirer reported that the National Endowment for the Arts had given a $10,000 grant to the Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown for a public mural in East Camden. Mr. Edmonds was "in charge of the community process for the project," the story reported.

He painted murals at the West Philadelphia Regional Library in 1989 and at Frankford High School in 2004, among others.

Mural painting was not his only medium.

In 2003, his etchings were in a group show at Artists' House Gallery, on Second Street north of Market Street.

Three years earlier, Sozanski had reported that the gallery had staged "a tribute to the centennial of the Philadelphia Orchestra" in a group show by 14 artists with "small etchings of musicians" by Mr. Edmonds.

In 2002, a report about the annual Open Studios Tour noted that Mr. Edmonds had invited the public to his workplace to "view his colorful landscape paintings, prints, and sculpture."

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Edmonds graduated from what is now Bok Technical High School in 1956.

He attended what is now the University of the Arts in 1962, the Fleisher Art Memorial in 1975, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1992.

A 1972 Philadelphia Daily News story reported that at that time he was administrator of the Mantua Halfway House, 428 N. 38th St.

The outpatient program there was started four years earlier by the Young Great Society, a neighborhood organization.

His resumé shows that Mr. Edmonds completed murals at the Halfway House, one titled Promise of Tomorrow in 1970 and one titled Struggle for Life in 1973.

Mr. Edmonds is survived by sons Walter, Zachary, and Langston; daughters Nicole, Pamela, Hope, Jennifer, and Rachel; a brother; a sister; and 14 grandchildren.

A visitation was set from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday, June 20, at the Church of the Advocate, Diamond Street at 18th Street, before an 11 a.m. funeral there.


Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|