The Lost Estate of Ed “Johnson” Shepard 1972-1991

Here is another project that I started back in 2007 called The Lost Estate of Ed “Johnson” Shepard 1972-1991. Here’s what I wrote about it:

The Lost Estate of Ed “Johnson” Shepard creates a fictional biography about an artist living in the late 70’s and 80’s. He’s a Vietnam vet who’s art explores notions of male masculinity and teenage fantasy, U.F.O.’s and space travel and ultimately, the horrors of the Vietnam War.

And here is the statement that I wrote for the website:

The Lost Estate of Ed “Johnson” Shepard is a conceptual website. It explores the semi-fictitious artwork of an artist living in the rural mountains of Pennsylvania from 1972 until 1991. I don’t know much about him except for some basic facts.He was a Vietnam vet and didn’t start making art until he was back from the war. Like most young men of his era he was fascinated by muscle cars, sex, rock and roll, guns and U.F.O.’s. He dissappeared in 1991. He is a culmination of myself, my father and my grandfather. The photographs were taken by my mother, the self-portrait is of my father and the paintings, without U.F.O.’s, are by my grandfather.

I started this project because I was interested in exploring other kinds of artwork outside of what I had already been working on, in particular on the creation of a biographical narrative which I had never done before. The ideas came first, mainly drawings of muscle cars and plastic model projects, and needed a context for these new ideas. I was interested in the idea of someone working as an “amateur” and how this could be re-contextualized into a conceptual framework. The name comes from my middle name, which is Edward, the street I live on, Johnson, and the street I grew up on, Shepard. I dated it 1972-1991 because 1972 is the year I was born and 1991 is the first year I was out of high school (I graduated in 1990). These years loosely represent my youth and I wanted to make artwork that took me back to this time when I was young and free from certain constraints. I wanted to imagine a time when someone was interested in simple pleasures like fast cars and sex but was also influenced by the unimaginable horrors of war and the intricacies of violence. I made “him” a Vietnam vet in order to shatter the innocence of his youth and to effectively halt his “natural” societal transition from being a teenager into being an adult. This young man is effectively forced out of the innocence of youth while still clinging to it and forced to face the realities of war, traumatizing him in the process.

For this project I developed a website and spent about a year making work for it. I made several drawing series including drawings of muscle cars, drawings from Vietnam War photos, pen and ink drawing of Gulf War aircraft (all using GE parts called GE: We Bring Good Things To Life) and included the space drawings that I had originally made for the Associated Artists for Propaganda Research. I made many models of fast cars which were all spray painted with a gloss black enamel finish. I made many painting of U.F.O.’s by using landscape paintings that my grandfather had made and painting U.F.O.’s on top of them. I first did this digitally and later, after my grandfather had died, painted directly on top of his paintings (with paint that could be removed if needed). I also include photographs that my mother had taken and photographs that I take as well. Below are some of the models that I made.

22 Jr. Dragster (Black Plastic Models) by Brian Higbee and The Lost Estate of Ed Johnson Shepard 22 Jr. Roadster (Black Plastic Models) by Brian Higbee and The Lost Estate of Ed Johnson Shepard 1965 Buick Riviera (Black Plastic Models) by Brian Higbee and The Lost Estate of Ed Johnson Shepard 1965 Chevy El Camino (Black Plastic Models) by Brian Higbee and The Lost Estate of Ed Johnson Shepard 1968 Dodge Charger (Black Plastic Models) by Brian Higbee and The Lost Estate of Ed Johnson Shepard 1968 Dodge Dart (Black Plastic Models) by Brian Higbee and The Lost Estate of Ed Johnson Shepard

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