Courrier’s political cartoons in Civic Theatre514 Gallery exhibit
For more than 50 years, Ed Courrier has been expressing his opinion through his art.
Now the award-winning editorial cartoonist is being featured in a one-man art exhibition showcasing some of his most memorable cartoons.
“Seeing Red, Feeling Blue: Editorial Cartoons by Ed Courrier” continues through April 28, Civic Theatre514 Gallery, 514 N. 19th St., Allentown.
The show, curated by Deborah Rabinsky, features two dozen political cartoons published in the Bethlehem Press and other Lehigh Valley Press weeklies, as well as some unpublished work.
“I like to make people laugh but I also want to make them think,” says Courrier.
His cartoons take on a wide range of issues from unemployment to fracking to gerrymandering.
“For most of my career, I considered myself a moderate, middle of the road, politically,” Couurier says.
But he says after his observations of the growing income gap between the top one percent and the lower economic classes, and the enactment of policies that hurt the poor and middle class, “my beliefs becoming more aligned with progressives.”
Courrier grew up in Cleveland, Oh., and started drawing cartoons in elementary school “in the margins of his math worksheets.”
“I loved the funnies in the paper and started noticing the editorial cartoons,” Courrier says. ”I found myself drawn in that direction.”
He was inspired by the political cartoons of Bill Roberts, a long-time editorial cartoonist for the Cleveland Press.
Courrier started drawing cartoons for his school newspaper in junior high school. He continued drawing editorial cartoons in high school when major political events captured his attention.
“I witnessed the rise and fall of the Nixon presidency,” he says. ”I even got to take a few pen and ink potshots at the embattled occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue myself. It was a good time to begin my journey as a political cartoonist.”
As a high school senior, Courrier says he “got it in his head” he could get paid for his cartoons.
“I took my portfolio to a local weekly newspaper and they hired me,” he says.
After graduating high school in 1973, Courrier attended Kent State University, where he continued drawing for the college paper and then, later, for the local daily newspaper.
After graduating college in 1977 with a degree in art, Courrier was offered a job as a staff artist at The Express in Easton. In 1978, he and his wife Catherine moved to the Lehigh Valley.
“We’ve been Pennsylvanians longer than we’ve been Midwesterners,” he says. “Although I still say ‘pop’ instead of ‘soda’ sometimes.”
His job at The Express was short-lived and after being laid off in 1979, he approached the East Penn Press, a weekly paper originally based in Emmaus and now one of the eight Lehigh Valley Press weeklies, where he was hired as an editorial cartoonist. Courrier’s cartoons appeared in the paper, now owned by Times News, as well as other weekly newspapers in the chain, through 1995.
Over the years, Courrier, who lives in Macungie, has done freelance work as a graphic designer, illustrator and cartoonist for Rodale Press, Rodale Institute, New Farm magazine, the City of Allentown and Air Products. He was art director for Sing Out! magazine from 1994 to 2012.
In 2007, he was invited to again do political cartoons for the Bethlehem Press and has continued to the present day. He has won first place in the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Professional Keystone Press Awards for the past five years for his cartoons in the Press.
In 2015, Courrier held the first exhibition of his work, a one-man show of his published cartoons at the Macungie Institute, after receiving a Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts grant.
“Seeing Red, Feeling Blue” was inspired by the division he says he sees in the United States between the political parties that he says has affected communities and families.
“This is why I am ‘seeing red and feeling blue,’” he says.
The exhibit includes four of his five Keystone Award-winning cartoons. The fifth, about arming teachers, was deemed too controversial.
He says his cartoons focus mostly “on local issues or national issues that affect us locally.”
Courrier estimates it takes a “good full day from inception to rendering” to create one of his cartoons. He also says he does a lot of research to make sure his images are technically correct.
Courrier says he has “a foot in both worlds” with his art. He starts a cartoon by drawing it completely by hand, but then scans it into the computer for coloring and adding text.
There will be a reception and a question and answer session with Courrier from 6 - 8 p.m. March 29 in the Civic Theatre514 Gallery.
Civic Theatre514 Gallery is open one hour before Civic theater shows and 30 minutes before film screenings. Information: civictheatre.com; 610-432-8943