RIP Edie Harper, wife of Charley Harper

Pigeons in St. Mark’s Square by Edie Harper (screenprint, 16.25×16.25)

Edie Harper, the wife of the late Charley Harper and an accomplished artist in her own right, passed away this Saturday at the age of 87, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. She is survived by her son, Brett Harper, who is also an artist.

“You can’t think about Edie without thinking about Charley, and you
can’t think about Charley without thinking about Edie,” says Norah
Lynne Brown, founder and vice president of Gallery One in Cleveland. “The years that Charley was alive and Edie was in good health, they were bound at the hip.” Charley Harper passed away in 2007 at the age of 84.

Charley and Edie met in 1940 at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. “Charley was a great raconteur, and he always talked about how he started
dating Edie when they were in art school because she had a car, and
they were together ever since,” Brown says.

Charley Harper’s worked in his signature modernist style, which he called minimal realism, largely unnoticed for decades until designer Todd Oldham brought his and Edie’s work to a larger audience. Oldham’s massive monograph Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life chronicles Charley’s six-decade career and the story of his and Edie’s lives.

Oldham was in Utah for the Sundance Film Festival today, but he passed along some kind words. “Edie Harper was just as lovely a woman as she was a great artist. She had an easy assimilation of any medium she was working in. She brought elegance and a new point of view to all that she touched,” he says. “As a team, Charley and Edie were art megastars. They were endlessly and honestly supportive of each other’s work. They were a true and magical love story.”

Ken Carl, the owner of Fabulous Frames & Art in Cincinnati, says, “Edie was a great lady and really just a fun person.” Her love of cats and Bible stories came through in her art. Where Charley’s art was bold and bright, “she was a little more conservative [with her palette], and her subject
matter too. Charley’s subject matter emphasized the point.”

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, January 26, 2010, at the Cedars of Lebanon Chapel at Spring Grove Cemetery, 4521 Spring Grove Ave. in Cincinnati. Visitation will be from noon until the service.

“When you’ve been in the gallery business as long as Alan and I have,
you start to lose people,” Brown says. “But you don’t think you’re
going to lose your favorites, so it’s always a shock and something we
live with the regret of. But they left a wonderful son.”

You can see more of Charley, Edie and Brett Harper’s art here.

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