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Ohio University Art Professor Aethelred Eldridge Listed in 'Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes'

Editors, news directors: A photo of Aethelred Eldridge in front of the Seigfred Hall mural he painted is available at: www.ohiou.edu/news/pix/ELDRIDGE_AETHELRED.JPG To arrange an interview with Eldridge, contact Media Services at (740) 593-1043.

ATHENS, Ohio (April 20, 2000) -- Ohio University Associate Professor of Art Aethelred Eldridge has joined the ranks of Pablo Picasso, Chuck Berry, Roy Lichtenstein, Oscar Wilde, John Lennon and William Blake with the publication of the "Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes," a compendium of avant-gardes over the last two centuries compiled by author, artist and critic Richard Kostelanetz and published in January.

Originally a French word, the term "avant-garde" is associated with the vanguard of intelligentsia, particularly writers and artists who develop new or experimental concepts.

In his preface, Kostelanetz notes that his notion of avant-garde refers to those out front, forging a path previously unknown, a road that others will take, art that is "ahead of its times ... extreme, unique, distinct, coherent, witty, technological and esthetically resonant."

To be included in the dictionary, an artist must produce rare work that transcends crucial esthetic conventions and establishes a distance from current artistic practices, taking time to find its maximum audience, Kostelanetz wrote.

"Aethelred is a unique and extraordinary artist who we are very fortunate to have working in the world and teaching in the School of Art at Ohio University," said Power Boothe, School of Art director.

As an art professor at Ohio University since 1957, Eldridge has produced thousands of works that include both images and text. His output over the last decade has been primarily in the form of black-and-white self-published pamphlets that reflect influences of poet and artist William Blake and include images of naked bodies, dancing skulls, flying saucers and sweeping brooms interspersed with Bible-like quotes and questions.

Eldridge's listing in the dictionary describes his art: "These self-described 'invective pamphlets' are both cryptically pedantic, and at times autobiographical, all within his own mythopoeia. ... Similar to the texts accompanying his images, his class lectures are themselves works of art. Aethelred weaves playful, sometimes invective speech tapestries with outlandish word associations, electrically charged phonetics and scrambled catchphrases that succeed or fail with his often baffled listeners."

Eldridge's lectures are among the most popular on campus, attracting hundreds of students from a variety of disciplines each quarter.

Eldridge says his inspiration comes from Blake and the Bible.

"Everything I am, I am for Albion's sake," Eldridge said. "Albion is fallen humanity, the sleeping giant and the 'Great Awakening.'"

Eldridge also has completed a number of large paintings, including a five-story, black-and-white mural, "Neowes from Golgonooza," a campus landmark painted on the side of Seigfred Hall in 1987. The mural was painted over three previous murals by Eldrdige, 70, who says, "If I can get the scaffolding, I'll do it one last time."

Eldridge founded the Church of William Blake, Golgonooza, on his property outside of Athens near Mount Nebo.


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