Richard Sedlon: Awakening the Whimsical Spirit at Corcoran Fine Arts

 The garden behind the historic Hezekiah Dunham House in Bedford, Ohio was once populated by creative and mischievous creatures, real and imagined, or perhaps evoked. There Richard Sedlon (American, 1900-1992) gathered both Pookas (elf-like figures of his own creation), and his fellow avant garde artists of the Kokoon Arts Club.


Early Winter, by Richard Sedlon

Early Winter, by Richard Sedlon

While Sedlon – painter, lithographer, sculptor, muralist, and poet – may currently be less known than Kokoon Arts Club colleagues William Sommer, Viktor Schreckengost, Edris Eckhardt, and Paul Travis, his work resonates with that of his Cleveland School contemporaries. With William Sommer and Viktor Schreckengost, Sedlon shares a bold use of color. With Edris Eckhardt, he shares a love of whimsical mythical creatures. With Paul Travis, he shares an expressionistic rendering of figure. While Sedlon’s name may now echo more quietly than the artists beside whom he worked, an upcoming exhibition at Corcoran Fine Arts revives Sedlon’s playful spirit and masterful artistry.

Born in Philadelphia, Sedlon moved to Cleveland with his family. He began working for Morgan Lithography, the nation’s largest printing firm of the time, when he was 18. He later worked for Otis Litho. Sedlon married Anne Nyerges and eventually moved with her into the Hezekiah Dunham House, the Nyerges family home. Today, Sedlon and his work inspire the citizens of Bedford who have renovated his garden and named its annual arts festival, Weekend of the Pooka, in honor of his eccentric little creations.

The headstone marking Sedlon’s grave reads, “Take the dream out of life and you have nothing . . . It’s all a dream.” Indeed, this mantra drove not only his life but also his art. Nymphs, gnomes, elves, satyrs, anthropomorphic animals, and Pookas dance, play music, carouse, and make merry throughout his paintings, prints, drawings, and sculpture. Even Sedlon’s still lifes are tinged with a bit of the dreamy and otherworldly.

Sedlon’s best works are relatively rare to the market, and much of his work was given to the Bedford Historical Society. Even the most comprehensive collections of Cleveland School art often lack high quality Sedlon works. The exhibition curated by James Corcoran will introduce the chimerical work of Richard Sedlon to a new audience.

Coinciding with Bedford’s September 13-16 Weekend of the Pooka, Corcoran Fine Arts will host a retrospective look at the artist’s work from September 12, 2013 through January 6, 2014 at the gallery on Larchmere. An opening reception will be held on September 12th from 5pm to 8pm. Wine & Beer, Cheese, Bread & Olives.

In the upper gallery, a range of new and important painting by Cleveland School Artists including the late Joseph O’Sickey, Clarence Carter, Lawrence Blaszy and Paul Travis will be on view


Richard Sedlon Retrospective

September 12, 2013 through January 6, 2014

Reception 5 to 8 pm Sept. 12


Corcoran Fine Arts Ltd.

12610 Larchmere

Cleveland, OH 44120