Casey Foedisch kindly gave us permission to use this piece about the Hartmanns that she wrote for the 2018 July 4th Program.
Contributed by Casey L. Foedisch
Imagine a painting. A scene by the Delaware River, lush and green, shaded by gorgeous trees. You can almost hear the tide coming in if you stare long enough. Anyone from Riverton could look at this painting and know exactly where the artist stood to see that slice of our town, and many have seen him out painting.
Over the years, Edward Hartmann has painted hundreds of scenes of Riverton, many of which hang in homes around town, and he has never grown tired of the beautiful place he calls home.
Ed was born in Northeast Philadelphia on March 28, 1925, several years before the start of the Great Depression, to Edward Hartmann Sr. and Anna Cecelia Kunkel. He grew up in the shadow of St. Edwards Catholic Church, playing games like “halfies” and building makeshift cars out of boxes and skates with his friends. Ed attended Northeast Public High School, where a teacher noticed his interest in art and helped him to develop that skill.
Because of the Depression, his family didn’t have money for him to attend postsecondary school, so with the help of his teacher, Ed applied for scholarships. There were only two scholarships for art in Philadelphia: one at Temple University and one at the Philadelphia Museum School of Arts (now University of the Arts). For his application, Ed reproduced a painting by Fredric Remington called The Emigrants, and the Philadelphia Museum School of Arts was so impressed they gave him the scholarship!
However, at the time of his graduation from high school, World War II was in full swing. Ed was only able to complete one year of art school before he was drafted into the Navy. He became a radioman based out of Pennsylvania, sending and receiving coded messages at the rate of eighteen words per minute.
During this assignment, he saw a posting on their bulletin board for Officer Candidate School and jumped at the opportunity to try something new. Ed was a little afraid they wouldn’t accept him, since the first interview question was an algebra problem he couldn’t solve! Despite that small mistake, Ed started in 1945 at Bucknell University, a school he loved. After a year, however, the program split into two cohorts and left Bucknell. One group went to the University of Pennsylvania, and the other, Ed’s cohort, was sent to Harvard University. In 1947, he graduated from Harvard with a Bachelor’s Degree in War Service Science. Now, he just had to wait for an officer’s assignment.
As soon as his first service with the Navy was complete, Ed went right back to the Philadelphia Museum School of Arts to finish his diploma in Illustration. Unfortunately, the school told him he’d have to start all over again, but a beloved painting professor pled his case and changed their decision so that Ed could begin his second year. Luckily he did, because without that change, Ed never would have met Joan Marr Bailey in his second-level classes.
Joan was from Palmyra, NJ, and the two became friends immediately. They had a lot in common and one day, while out dancing the jitterbug (a favorite of theirs), Ed told Joan “I love you and I want to marry you.” Joan said, “Really?” Her response wasn’t quite what he expected, but the outcome was what he’d hoped for. The two were married in 1951, but it wasn’t long before the Navy came knocking with Ed’s next assignment.
A month after getting married and enjoying their honeymoon in Bermuda, Ed was assigned to the USS Duel APA 160, a member of the amphibious ship group in the Korean Conflict. There, he served as the Lieutenant and Ships Navigator for another tour. After returning home, Ed began working as an Art Director and Graphic Designer, creating brochure layouts, graphics, and company logos for more than thirty years before going into business for himself.
In the early years of their marriage, Ed and Joan lived in Northeast Philadelphia. Joan, though, was set on moving back to New Jersey, and Ed had no problem obliging. The Hartmanns ended up a few blocks from Joan’s family on Linden Avenue, where Ed still lives today. His parents thought they’d moved to the Country, but Ed loved Riverton immediately. It was the perfect place to raise a family, and they had their only child, a son named John, in 1957. Ed’s love of art rubbed off on John, who attended Bucknell University and went on to earn a Masters in Art Conservation from the State University of New York at Cooperstown. He now has his own painting conservation business in Pennsylvania.
In addition to his work as a designer, Ed began helping his in-laws with their flower growing business in Palmyra. Eventually, that grew into a bigger operation on Route 130 in Cinnaminson, and Ed worked there for thirty years raising thousands of azaleas before it closed. He also attended Calvary Presbyterian Church in Riverton with Joan and has been a member there for over 53 years.
All along, Ed never lost his love of art. One Christmas night, soon after they moved to Riverton, Ed announced that he was going out. It was cold and snowing, and Joan was reasonably surprised by this, but that didn’t stop him. In the silence, Ed took his tools and set up his easel, painting the winter around him. One Riverton police officer kept circling back to check on him; Ed was pretty sure the officer thought he was crazy! But of course, he wasn’t, he was just a man rediscovering his lifelong love.
After that, Ed was a fixture in Riverton. Many people can remember him at various places, brush in hand, capturing a tree or the river or another part of the town.
He has hundreds of paintings in his studio, and even more hang in the homes of his neighbors, family, and friends. He would be the first to say that his style varies, influenced by his favorite artists and changing to show familiar places in new ways.
It is undeniably beautiful though, and many professionals over the years have agreed. Ed Hartmann’s work has been featured in at least twenty-seven Fine Arts Exhibitions in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey over his lifetime.
His work is a picture into the quiet way of life and charming natural surroundings of a small town in America. “Riverton is the best town in the whole world,” Ed said, and looking through his eyes at the town, captured in his beautiful paintings, it is easy to agree. – Casey Foedisch
From The Courier-Post on Nov. 4, 2010: HARTMANN, Joan Bailey Of Riverton, passed away Monday, November 1, 2010. She was 83. Joan was born in Palmyra. She attended Friends Meeting House grade school, graduated from Palmyra High School, and went onto graduate from the Philadelphia Museum School of Art.
Joan also was an elder of Calvary Presbyterian Church in Riverton, where she was a life member. She was a member of DAR, an honorary member of the Philadelphia Water Color Society, a member of Riverton Historical Society, and a dedicated genealogist. Joan had a lifelong career as a watercolor artist.
The real tribute to the incredible virtuosity of the Hartmanns is hung on walls throughout the area. We welcome more information and examples of their art. – JMc, Editor
Added 7/9/2021: In a rare example of the positive power of social media, local photographer Meredith Perkins Salmon recently posted this photo on a Facebook group page that she shot around 1993-1994 and asked if anyone knew who it might be.
In short order, a number of people correctly guessed that it was Ed Hartmann in the photo. Merideth’s post received a long string of several dozen comments, questions, replies, and shares from other Facebook users.
Around comment #50 I commented that the Historical Society of Riverton has a tribute page to local artists on its website and provided the link to this page for the Hartmanns. If anyone lands on this page who can provide anecdotal information or more photos of their artwork we would very much like to share them with our readers.
Added 8/12/2021: It looks like at least three different eBay sellers have started to auction off a number of Mr. Hartmann’s paintings that they acquired at the estate sale earlier in the summer. I contacted each one and they gave permission for us to display these photos of Ed Hartmann’s artwork.
Before you ask, the styles and signing of the works vary. Do you have an explanation? Also, if you recognize a subject, please let us know.
Added 8/13/2021: Thank you to Dorothy Robbins Talavera who writes: Here are two drawings Ed did of his/our church – Calvary Presbyterian Church of Riverton. We used one as the cover of our directory and printed the other on notepaper.
Thank you to these visitors who commented:
August 16, 2021, from Iris Gaughan: The above yellow house is across the street from my home. It is 400 Main Street…on the corner of 4th and Main.
August 13, 2021, from Bill Moore: The portrait is undoubtedly Joan as a young woman. It’s a very good likeness.