Craig Lucas, Artist


Craig LucasFrom his student days during the 1960s, Craig N. Lucas’s work has been an ongoing investigation into abstraction that is inspired by his curiosity about the nature of things in the world. He explains that, for him, “abstraction seems to address the generality of appearance, particularly the ground between appearance and what is embedded underneath.” At the same time Lucas questions “the nature of the sign, how it emerges and lodges in the memory, how it is interpreted and how it disintegrates.”

Tom Hinson, curator of photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art, sums up the body of his work with the observation that “since the early 1970s . . . Lucas has consistently shown innovative techniques, ideas, and an extraordinary sense of touch and color in his work.”

In his major 2008 exhibition Craig Lucas: Surge at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Lucas’s work responded to the American presence in Iraq by becoming (for him) disturbingly specific. 

In a monumental multi-panel work that stretched the length of the gallery, Lucas loosely rendered war images that he had derived from newspaper photographs, and then overlain with the stripes and colors of the American Flag. Critic Dan Tranberg wrote in The Plain Dealer that “Lucas’ strength stems from his extensive skill and substantial understanding of the kind of symbolic communication that is inherent to abstract painting. Much as his show makes a commanding statement about the war, it does so because of his lifetime experience with and mastery of his medium.”

Craig Lucas was born in Cleveland in 1941 and his career has centered upon his artistic practice here, growing through his influence as a teacher at Kent State University School of Art and through his unwavering commitment to the practice of painting. He received a B.F.A. from Kent State in 1967 and an M.A. in 1976. He began teaching at Kent in 1969, and, on retiring in 2004, was honored as an Emeritus Professor and with the establishment of a graduate assistantship in his name.

His exhibitions include one-person shows at the Akron Art Museum; John Davis Gallery (Akron); Ohio University; William Busta Gallery (Cleveland); Occidental College (Los Angeles); Zygote Press (Cleveland); and the inclusion of a large body of his work in The Invitational at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1994. He has exhibited extensively in group shows in the region,
and nationally, including 11 times in the May Show at the Cleveland Museum of Art, winning the prestigious Painting Award in 1990.

In 1998 he completed Double Atlas, a major commission for Progressive Insurance’s new facility in Florida. Lucas and his collaborator, Michael Loderstedt, collected botanical specimens and photographed the area, then embedded the images and material into a painterly composition that fills its space with warmth and authority.

Lucas has received numerous awards, including an Ohio Arts Council Fellowship and the Visual Arts Award from the Akron Area Arts Alliance. His dedication to the community and to education has helped shape the Northeast Ohio cultural atmosphere. His work is in the collections of the Akron Art Museum, Progressive Corporation, Kaiser Permanente, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Hahn Loeser + Parks, and the Canton Art Museum.

Cleveland Arts Prize
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