Ed Kroupa has been involved in the fine arts field for over fifteen years, dabbling in the areas of fabrication, sculpture, drawing and more. He is the co-owner of Two Ravens Studio, which opened in Tacoma in 2008.
Ed holds a professional background in prop creation using the techniques of wax casting process, mold making, vacuum forming, and resins. His work is displayed in both the US and in England, and can even be seen in Disney theme parks!
Site: Thea Foss Waterway Public Esplanade
In 1983 the Environmental Protection Agency declared the Thea Foss Waterway a Superfund site. In 1994, the City of Tacoma took the lead in developing a clean-up plan for Thea Foss and Wheeler Osgood Waterways. Since, from 2002-2006, approximately 425,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments were taken from the waterways and capped with clean sediments. The City restored the shoreline to a more natural function, reintroducing native aquatic vegetation and natural beach areas that provide access to Tacoma’s urban waterfront.
The area that Ed will transform is the sandy area on Esplanade between S. 14th and S. 15th streets, in front of the private housing development “The Esplanade” at 1515 Dock Street. The site was originally designed as a volleyball court but, due to low usage, the court will be removed, leaving an expansive sandy area just begging for an interactive art piece.
Q &A with Ed Kroupa
Can you give me some background on yourself and how you got into this career?
I grew up in the small town of Ridgecrest, located in Southern California. I took an interest in drawing at an early age and began taking as many different kinds of art classes as my mom would sign me up for. My mom also fostered my art interest at home as we often spent time doing craft and ceramic projects together. After dabbling in photography, ceramics, painting, pottery and other art related subjects, I set my sights on having a career as an illustrator and took several drawing and drafting classes to get myself prepared for working in that field.
When I thought I was ready, I gathered up my best work and approached a company in town that had a large Illustration department hoping to get my foot in the door. They liked my work but informed me that they did not have an opening in that department at that time. They did however offer me a position in their Drafting department with the intent on having me transfer to the Illustration department as soon as an opening came up. So I became a draftsman. The company’s contract was for the Naval Weapons Center and I soon found myself drafting plans for numerous missile systems.
I remained in the Drafting department for four years. After a series of life events, I found my way to the Northwest. Some old high school classmates of mine offered me a job at an effects shop they had been running in Shelton, WA. The job involved making props and displays for movies and theme parks. Based on my past education, work history and friendship with them, I soon found the next step in my art career. I stayed with the effects company for about six years sculpting and fabricating for broadcast, motion picture, theme park, and other projects in the entertainment industry.
When it was time to move on, I looked around for something that would benefit from my past work history and found The Bronze Works. The Bronze Works was a bronze art foundry located in Shelton. I stayed with them in Shelton till their move to Tacoma and worked my way up the chain to become the department head for their mold and wax departments as well as being the lead person on all of their sculptural enlargement projects. While working there I was asked to create several original sculptures for clients.
The Bronze Works stayed open until 2009. When they were in the process of closing I teamed up with two other former employees, Katrina Toft and Mike Haney, and formed Two Ravens Studios. We started out making molds and resin castings in our partner’s mom’s garage. The intent was to eventually offer traditional artisan foundry work as well as design original sculptures and continue with the resin work. After some talks with the old foundry owner we were able to acquire the equipment needed to start our own foundry. We soon were approached by other artists and asked if we would create their work in bronze, aluminum, resin, and plastic composites. In 2010, Two Ravens Studio moved into its downtown Tacoma location and started its furnaces in 2011. We have been growing ever since and taking on large projects.
What are some of your previous projects that you have been most proud of and why?
One of my favorite projects was through the Public Art: In Depth program. I was asked to do a temporary art installation in a location of my choice. I called my temporary project “Life.” The installation took place at the Garfield Gulch Bayside Trailhead. Over the course of an evening I transformed a grassy open space (adjacent to the Trailhead,) with balloon forms containing glow sticks. These balloon forms represented the building blocks of life. My goal was to bring attention to this unused area at night by lighting it up with “life.”
What was your initial reaction when you were selected to create a public art piece for the Esplanade, and what is your reaction to the site you will be working on?
I was elated that I was chosen to be the lead artist and have been considering several possibilities for the area. During my initial explorations of the Esplanade, I was taken in by the way the sandy area resembled an infinity pool, giving the viewer the illusion that they could walk across a “beach” and right into the Waterway.
Do you have any preliminary thoughts about what you will make in the space?
Ultimately what I hope to accomplish is give people a reason to step off the walkway and interact with the art and the space. I’d like to include recycled materials with foundry cast elements to be able to create a substantial piece for the location. As a Tacoma resident and artist I feel a strong connection to the coastal area and its aquatic life inspires me greatly. So this is likely to influence my design of the artwork for the Esplanade.