Eldridge (b. 1930 Monroe, MI) is a legend in Athens County, Ohio where he has lived, worked, and taught for over 50 years. He was an associate professor from 1957-2014 at the Ohio University School of Art where his iconic work remains on view as a 50 by 80 foot black and white mural at the school’s Seigfred Hall. Using the last and current iteration of this mural as inspiration, the gallery will feature wall-to-wall reproductions of the artist’s Æthograms - black and white works that feature conglomerated symbols, figures, and drawn texts that take on an autopsical approach to the English language. Eldridge creates provocative messages that weave together Blakian, Celtic, Pre-Roman British, and his own deeply coded mythologies. These at once stark and humorous works take on prophetic tones, often political in nature, and are rattling, energizing, and relevant in their pointed critique of civilization.
Eldridge self-published thousands of his Æthograms into what he calls Invective Pamphlets - small, zine-like, booklets that serve as trail markers for the artists prolific, almost frenzied production. He is listed in the Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes, which characterizes his works as:
“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. Æthelred 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.”
- Michael Peters
Eldridge’s work exists somewhere in-between the folk and academic traditions and is entwined in every aspect of his life. In the 1960s he purchased land in Millfield, Ohio below Mt. Nebo, a spiritual mecca since the 1830s. This secluded acreage is where he restored a log cabin originally built by the spiritualist Koons family to house their famous seances. He calls this homestead Golgonooza after the great city of imagination, art, and science in Blake’s Jerusalem. On this property, Æthelred founded the Golgonooza Church and School of William Blake and regularly held “happening-like” gatherings and ceremonies up until the late 1980s. Over the decades he has constructed additional wings to the original cabin, completely on his own, in a style that can be described as Tudor meets Dr.Caligari. At 86 he is still living alone in his sculptural dwelling, which has only well water and outhouses, a fireplace for heating, and a few electric lights. A live video feed of Æthelred in his home will accompany the exhibition.
For inquiries please contact R. Blair Sullivan at the gallery email or by phone at: 740-243-2228