It is hard to imagine that a young man from Pike Road, Alabama, would come to embody a version of art in Miami. Edward Crowell II was not your typical local artist -- far from it. A self-taught painter, he created nearly 20 years' worth of work that exhibited the brash disestablishment of the art world that a younger person might attempt but never harness. Bold, muddled, unsure in a Devil-may-care way, Crowell's paintings were manic and composed, flip and serious, shy and daring. The contradicting nature of his work is what made it interesting.
Some observers liken his paintings to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Overtown's pride and joy, Purvis Young, and they aren't too far off the mark, but the comparison stops at the energy of the aforementioned artists. Crowell's work, though violent at first glance, is actually inspired by the civil rights movement, pop art, the sensuality of women and poetry. A fixture in Miami's nightlife, Crowell was also a poet and musician. Friends and family on Facebook say he passed away following a motorcycle accident last Thursday, September 25.
His work was exhibited at Art Basel Miami Beach 2011, where it received international media attention, most notably by the Washington Post's Root magazine. He also showed in Los Angeles, New York, Milan, and London. His work is in numerous private collections, and he was featured in an advertising campaign by Levi's jeans, Details magazine, and the MTV Video Music Awards.
Local artist and friend Kiki Valdes featured Crowell in a group show in January 2012 called "The Outsiders" and referred to him as "the quintessential outsider" because at the time, he was relatively new to Miami. That would all change with Crowell becoming a familiar face on Miami's nightlife scene. Aside from dabbling in poetry and on canvas and paper, he was also an avid musician who created some lo-fi hip-hop heavy on experimentation that skirted the jazzy lines between A Tribe Called Quest and Guru.
Crowell's father is distinguished U.S. Air Force Brigadier General (Ret.) Edward Crowell, and while one might think that coming from a military family would have conflicting issues with an artistic lifestyle, he affectionately posted a picture of his father on his Facebook page with the caption: "Happy Father's Day to the original artist enabler and a truly great man!"
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Crowell is survived by his loving family and friends. He was an avid motorcyclist, and after a short reminiscence detailing the warmth and charisma of his spirit, his friend Ken Childers wrote, "There are many worse earthly vessels to take us to that other world than a Ducati." That is true.
His family wishes to celebrate his life at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 30 at the Corner, 1035 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Call 305-961-7887 or visit thecornermiami.com.
New Times will update this story when more information becomes available.