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Lucas artist with unique view of the world dies at age 76

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, Sep. 8, 2013, at 7:14 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Sep. 24, 2013, at 5:51 a.m.

Eric Abraham always saw things a bit differently.

It was the artist’s mind. He billed himself as a “World Famous Artist.”

“He was always curious and always interested in knowing a little bit more about how things worked and how things were going,” said friend Rosslyn Schultz, executive director of the Grassroots Art Center in Lucas and who suggested nearly a decade ago that Mr. Abraham move to the tiny Russell County town where he opened the Flying Pig Studio and Gallery.

Mr. Abraham died Saturday due to complications following colon cancer surgery. He was 76.

“It is a huge shock and loss to this town,” Schultz said of Lucas, population 400. “He put his artistic touch into any space he came in contact with. For Lucas, he was such a plus. He led workshops. He knew so many people.”

Remember how Lucas made national news a few years ago when it built and opened one of the largest public toilets in the nation? Or at least how the toilet became a monument in Lucas?

It wasn’t Mr. Abraham’s idea, Schultz said Sunday. But he helped decorate it and give it that certain je ne sais quoi bling.

“He was our constant design professional,” Schultz said. “He would reassure us it would work. And it was his idea to have a puppy dog drinking out of the toilet. We are having a ‘Name the Puppy Dog’ contest. That was his baby from the get-go.”

The artistic essence was in Mr. Abraham’s blood. He was a gifted artist with excellent training.

He was born on Nov. 27, 1936, in Harlem to parents who were Works Progress Administration artists and writers in New York. His parents illustrated children’s ’ books for the public schools of New York City, according to his website, www.ericabraham.net.

He graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute with a bachelor’s degree in painting in 1964. Five years later, he received his master’s degree in ceramics from the University of Nebraska.

Mr. Abraham then worked for a brief time for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City before moving to Santa Fe and Madrid, N.M. He taught for two years at Kansas State University and then moved to Vail, Colo., in 1974. He had a ceramics and pottery studio in Vail and later in Denver.

He first gained national attention for his artwork when he created two large, fire-breathing dragons. One was featured on the NBC “Today” show. He has appeared on the Lynette Jennings Design Show on the Discovery Channel, according to his website. His artwork was shown most recently in Wichita at the Book and Art Fair in May and at the Smoky Hill River Festival at Salina in June. This next weekend, he was scheduled to exhibit in the Ponca City Art Center’s Art Festival.

In 2004, he moved to Lucas, where he bought an old car dealership building and renovated it into the Flying Pig Studio and Gallery. One of his favorite mediums was porcelain because it allowed him to use bright colors.

He was also known for his van in which he carried his artwork to shows. He named it the “PigMobile.”

According to his website, Mr. Abraham is survived by a daughter, Sara Mercedes of California; a companion, Ruth DeOreo; and former wife Judy Love.

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

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