Ed Schulman


These days, artist Ed Schulman is no longer as interested in public recognition as he is in using his artistic endeavors as a means to tap into his own psyche. “My new focus is on self therapy,” he says. “I’m internalizing my work, taking it in a new direction. I’m moving toward studying how art affects the artist, as opposed to how art affects the viewer. I’m exploring the personal value of being an artist as opposed to the commercial value.”


“Where’s Ringo” print on paper 9.5 x 7.5 inches

Schulman’s work has always had a sort of dreamlike quality. His style might best be described as primitive expressionism – conjuring abstracted figures through simple broad brushstrokes and the use of a muted palette. Some of his favorite subjects include long-limbed women in a variety of dramatic costumes and cityscapes done with a focus on form as opposed to detail.


Both subjects reflect elements of Schulman’s interesting background and experiences. As a baby he was found on the doorstep of a church in Brooklyn, and grew up in Manhattan as the adopted son of wealthy Russian  holocaust survivors. During his childhood and teenage years, he was exposed to all of the cultural advantages that the city had to offer. He attended the theater, the opera and concerts, and frequented art museums. The women in his family were very fashion conscious. All of these elements have found places in his images. 


“I found with people in the theater world that there was a gaiety about them,” says Schulman. “I’ve always loved that aspect of jumping from what they did regularly to either don another role or enjoy a sort of sophisticated persona after a performance.”


Some of the artist’s recent works have the look of fashion sketches, others bring to mind the work of the early Impressionist artists who focused on dancers and other performers. 


“Three on Yellow” acrylic on paper 19 x 16 inches

Schulman’s work is also influenced by time spent in the Caribbean, where his granddaughter was born. His most colorful paintings, based on marketplace scenes in Bequia, focus on groups of women in flowing dresses and matching headwear. “The movement and the color code of these native scenes has always moved me because of the rhythm,” says the artist. “There’s a sense of rhythm that’s palpable to me.”


Although he has experimented with all of these subjects previously, Schulman is now delving a bit deeper into his past and his interior life. “I’m attributing future work to things that come to me either through memories or dreams,” he says. 


A self-taught artist, Schulman only started painting in his 60s and has already gained much insight through his work. “I’ve seen a new value in the work and its therapeutic value. At my age you enjoy it when you remember something and it really resonates. I call these the wisdom years.”


Despite his late arrival on the art scene, Schulman has already enjoyed a level of success, and has earned a dedicated following. His work has been shown around the Island at the A Gallery, the Old Sculpin Gallery, and other venues. In the fall he will be included in a group show at a gallery in New York City. Still, it’s not financial or commercial rewards that motivate the artist these days. “The key for me is finding personal meaning in my work,” he says. “I’ve already gone through the children and the grandchildren phases. Now it becomes noticeable that I’d like to have some meaning. The third act is about bringing everything together.”


Ed Schulman is a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association. His work can be found at the MVAA’s Old Sculpin Gallery in Edgartown

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