Home » Socializing During Class Leads to Lucrative Art Career for Galveston Native

Socializing During Class Leads to Lucrative Art Career for Galveston Native

by Publisher
0 comment

By Ruth Ann Ruiz

The Post Newspaper Features Editor

Edie Filer’s work dances across social media with thousands of followers and yet he is a humble man who does not boast about his talent but rather tells the stories of the people in his portraits.

On a Saturday morning at the Houston Museum of African-American Culture, visitors learned Filer was upstairs and flocked into the exhibit to hear him speak about his paintings and tell the stories of the people he has painted.

The exhibit is called, Bridging of a Negative Mindset with Positivity and will be on display till October 1st.

“The idea or narrative behind this series, which was started in 2013 was to focus on positivity. I felt in the black community, positive role models and positive thinking were becoming extinct. This series started with me painting my family and friends, but I thought I could contribute better by painting strong black leaders past and present” an excerpt from Filer’s exhibition.

A popular portrait with the guests is that of Reginald Ballard, an actor and comedian also known as Bruh-Man. Filer and Ballard grew up together in Galveston and remain friends.

Another popular portrait is titled, Troubled Soul, which depicts two mature black men who seem distressed and another image of a younger black man with a meditative facial expression. There are metal bars in the painting.  

This portrait is done to express the experience of black men who feel like they are living behind bars. The three men are coming to a place of inner peace and an olive branch along with the dove represent a peaceful resolution for the troubled soul.   

Guests were impressed with his work. “His work is amazing. The way he represents iconic figures who have made a huge difference is impressive,” said Travis Moore, who was determined to see Flier’s work while on his first visit to Houston.

Included in the exhibit are portraits of: Muhammad Ali, Mary McLeod Bethune, Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey, John Lewis, NINA, James Baldwin, Shirley Chisholm, Nipsey Hussle, and Angela Davis along with his family, friends and self-portraits.

Filer created each with the intention of conveying a message to the viewer. He takes time to explain the reason for his selection of the admirable faces he chose to include in his exhibit along with his own intended message.

The exhibition room filled with 20-25 visitors who all listened intently to Filer sharing about his work. Filer speaks of all his work with great attention to detail. His storytelling talent keeps the audience engaged.

An older man on a porch with a red cooler beside him is the portrait that captures the attention of everyone in the room. It is an especially dear portrait for Filer.

His dad was a smoker so when Eddie would return home to visit, they’d sit on the porch, which was termed the meeting room. His father had been a chef at the Holiday Inn on Harborside in Galveston and taking care of people with food was his passion.

“I grew up with red coolers. My dad used them in his catering business and for social gatherings, or sharing food with those in need,” Filer shared to his growing audience. He spoke of his father as a good man who took care of others but wasn’t a saint.

“This portrait of my father was done when he had already begun the early stages of dementia,” Filer shared. He told his audience about the 3:00 am phone calls when his dad was out wandering in the highway. He spoke about the patience needed when a loved one is suffering from dementia.

“My dad knew he was fading in and out, and that caused him a lot of fear,” said Filer. Nods of understanding come from the audience.

Filer takes the time to explain the portraits of his two children, one who — since a child — has coped with anxiety. The guests continued to listen with reverence.

His father wasn’t the most supportive person of Eddie’s artistic pursuits.  For a long time, he told Eddie that he was just wasting his time with art.  That was until Filer started getting paid  thousands of dollars to travel across the country for his commissioned portraits.

Art has been a part of Filer’s life since he was a child. He also played football and studied karate while growing up in Galveston; he can’t remember ever crossing the causeway before he turned 18.

“When we went to visit family in Louisiana, we always took the ferry,” said Filer.

In a Ball High School art class during the early 80’s, Filer was a bit talkative. He and his buddies spent too much time socializing, and he was sent to the cafeteria to paint by himself.

Mr. Gordon, his high school art teacher, recognized Filer’s talent and encouraged him to develop his artistic self at a higher level. At the time Filer was on the school’s football team.

Filer followed his teacher’s advice, attended college and majored in art. He completed both a bachelor and master’s degree in art from The University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Portraits by Filer are very realistic and at first glance, his work can seem to be a photograph. He attributes his expertise in creating very real portraits to his college training with live models.

For Filer, creating art is rewarding but adding to the rewards is meeting the many people from many walks of life who he is honored to have sit for him as he listens to their stories and develops their portraits.

As much as he loves painting, telling stories and meeting people, nothing can take the place of his family. He and his wife were high school sweethearts and have been married for 35 years. Their current home is in West Texas City. They have a son and daughter who are both adults. His father passed away a couple years back.

The Monterroso Gallery in Houston is hosting a Filer exhibit titled, Unfinished Legacies. The exhibit is open through August 13. His work is also on display at University of the South in Tennessee. In October, the University will unveil yet another of Filer’s portraits.

Filer plans to continue with commissioned work while also creating work that allows him to express his own message.

You may also like

Leave a Comment