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Ed Shimek (1920 - 2012)

Ed Shimek was born in 1920 to parents of Czech and German ancestry.  The "old country" was never far away when Ed was growing up.  It was a hard life for Ed and his 6 siblings in large part because Ed's father left the family around Ed's 10th birthday. 


As a young adult, Ed found himself in the thick of WW2.  He served in the Mediterranean, South France, Africa and Germany where he was wounded, earning a purple heart. After the war Ed attended the Walker School of Art in Minneapolis from 1947 to 1950.  He painted and eventually wound up supervising janitorial services for the Minneapolis Public Library system.  For a number of years Ed shared a studio with noted local plein aire painter Olexa Bulavitsky, which was located at 11th and Franklin in South Minneapolis.  He learned a lot about painting from Olexa, his chief mentor/role model in his art life.  Ed liked painting landscapes with babbling brooks and waterfalls and each summer he would go camping with friends to Grand Marias and paint.   


Ed was an endearing artist due to the low profile he kept and the dedication he showed. He was humble and quiet, but he could surprise you with his strong opinions about art and his competitive streak as well, having once dreamed of getting a spot on the U. S. Olympic speed skating team.  However, his reserve didn't keep him from winning many awards at the Minnesota State Fair and other shows around the country, nor did it prevent him from becoming a signature member of Midwest Watercolor Society.   He also had many gallery shows at a variety of local art galleries.  Ed and Olexa took many trips together into the early 1990's to places like Mexico, the North Shore and Florida.


I will always remember Ed's work for the bold, direct approach to watercolor in which he composes what he's painting with a series of color spots, much like Prendergast - almost an oil painting-like approach.  I recognized an affinity for his work because we are both striving for the same goal:  the discovery of a meaningful shorthand to describe the big simple things underlying the complexities of nature. 


Special thanks to artist Greg Lipelt for providing this background information on Ed Shimek.

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