A new artistic force had moved to Litchfield County. Ed Jaffe is one of our new best kept secrets and he feels that Torrington is not far behind. Jaffe has lived his life in 20 year cycles. 20 years to grow up. 20 years as a photographer in New York, 20 years learning to sculpt in Vermont and 20 years as an artist/gallery owner in Virginia. He moved to Torrington because it was time to come home to New England and be closer to family. He picked Torrington because the past few years had shown it to be a community surging with creative growth . It also had the property he wanted which included a 4000 sq ft dairy barn which he could convert to a studio/gallery. First he had to change the zoning so it would allow an artist to live and work on his property. Then he set up the Artist Relocation Program which is being used to recruit new artists to the city. Two years into his move he has finally found the time to introduce himself to you as a working artist .
As he puts it, “I am creating my fifth 20 year cycle here in Litchfield County .”
In looking at the tremendous inventory of thought provoking work, one can see that the first four “cycles” of his life were full of endless stimulation and travel that fostered a roaring river of creativity.
By looking at Ed Jaffe’s artwork, one can see his journey from his beginning’s as a photographer for major publications in New York to his discovery of sculpture when Life magazine did a feature story on the resurgence of wood sculpture in 1958 , That article helped change his life and he remembers saying “I can do that”. Sculpture became his hobby for many years and the last piece of the puzzle came in 1972 when the agency for Arnold Bread sent him to Vermont for a week to shoot a new campaign. He never stopped going back. A few years later he had built a home, moved his family and changed his life. For the next 20 years he became a sculptor .
With Ed’s sculpture there are no “please don’t touch” signs. Actually he enjoys it when someone is connected to a piece of his sculpture and feels compelled to place their hands on it, He has said many times, “If I can make a lady caress a rock I must have done something right.”
The physical toll of sculpting stone gradually took over along with time and as much as he hated to give it up his body said now is he time so he switched to doing more paintings and began working in clay. There are still about 100 pieces of marble available for collectors but when it comes to stone, that is the end of it.
Ed has always found a sense of place and inspiration when he traveled to the Mediterranean and South America One of those trips could feed his work for a year. Creatively he has always been influenced by cultures that were not his own . He will often say that he is a sculptor who paints and his goal is to see how much three dimension he can put on a two dimensional plane . The canvases are quite different from the sculpture which has round, caressing and almost a primal nurturing that brings comfort to all that view them.
In what would seem to be a logical next step, Ed has incorporated both sculpture and painting into one medium. His 3-D wall art. These pieces quite literally jump off the wall and have tremendous textural qualities. They offer something quite different since they change throughout the day as the light in the room changes, They look heavy but they are easy to use as they are light enough to hang on a picture hook . Ed is without any doubt, an artist to the core with creativity in every fiber. Each and every discipline tells a life long tale of quest and enlightenment.
To round out the Torrington story,
What was rather unexpected for Ed was when his journey began in Litchfield County . Something a bit different had occurred compared to other places in the world where he had landed. He had purchased a farm on the Westside of Torrington where a 1900’s cow barn would be his base to showcase his past works and incubate his future creations. He noticed that there were hurdles that stood in his way like being able to have a home studio to allow visitors and clients that he met over his 70 years of creating to visit and purchase new pieces for their collections. He then did what he was told was the impossible. In advocating for artists to be able to set up their own creative and living space, he added a new dimension to his reputation and he has become known as an advocate for artists . Ed created a new zoning regulation that allowed artists to live, work and sell in their homes. This was good for the artist and good for the community . He has a basic mantra, Bring in the artists and everything else will follow.
Ed recognizes that the true path to revitalization has always begun with artists colonizing a given area. It begins with the artists that look for an area that is cost-effective for them to relocate to pursue their passion. As we have seen many times in the past most notably in Greenwich Village where artists first congregated as an inexpensive place to live in New York City, property value steadily increased over the years. One can say that artists are the prelude to economic vitality and one would not be far off the mark.
After he was victorious in instituting this zoning change, with the help of Torrington city planner Marty Connor, Ed felt content that he can get back to his purpose and passion – creating his next body of work .
Curious? Ed would enjoy showing you around his studio so give him a call his cell at 914-715-2055 to set up a time to come by.
The lights will be on when you get there.