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Jack Drummer, 1935-2013

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Painter Jack Drummer outside his Connecticut Street studio. Photo by John Massier.

This morning, I read the sad news on Facebook that Jack Drummer, the abstract expressionist painter whose gritty and dark work can be found in the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Burchfield Penney Art Center and Whitney Museum of American Art, died Monday night at the age of 78.

I lived across the street from Jack's studio and residence on Connecticut Street for two years, and I'd often see him sitting outside on his stoop, reading the newspaper or chatting with neighborhood characters. I was lucky enough to meet him a few times, and to peek into his studio, which was heated by a wood stove and filled with dozens of dusty canvases.

Above is a 2010 portrait of Drummer by Hallwalls curator John Massier (who had no idea who he was photographing at the time) that seems to me the perfect embodiment of who Drummer was: Someone who turned his back on the official art scene and lived in his own world, a world in which only his own inscrutable rules applied. An obituary will run in tomorrow's paper, but for now, suffice it to say that Drummer was a singular figure in this or any art community, a fiercely individual artist who projected his demons onto canvases made of rubber and grit and did not care a whit what anyone thought of the result. He will be dearly missed.

--Colin Dabkowski

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