Marble and Stone - A Polish Sculptor - Edmund Ast

Edmund Kasimierz Ast Working in a Marble Yard

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The Sculptor, My Grandfather

My grandfather, Edmund Ast, was born and raised in Poland. He obtained a university degree in art, specializing in sculpture and design. This was quite unusual at the time; not many young men in Poland in the 1920's had the opportunity of pursuing their education beyond the primary or maybe the middle grades. They certainly didn't have the opportunity to continue their education, much less pursue a university degree.

Edmund was fortunate. His father, my great grandfather owned a business, a wood working factory that made - furniture, cabinets, caskets. The factory employed 10-15 workers, which meant my great grandfather was upper middle class and quite well off financially.

Not that he believed he was well off; there are family stories about how tight he was with money: hiding his wealth under the proverbial floor boards, keeping his wife on an extremely strict, no, a stingy grocery budget. Nevertheless, there was enough money to live in a "villa" a nice substantial house with surrounding gardens and to send his son Edmund to university.

When Edmund began working, he received commissions from the wealthier families who purchased caskets from the family business. Edmund was a tireless worker and a perfectionist. Soon he was designing and building graveside markers and memorials.

Graveside Markers and Memorials

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Other Commissions and Designs

In time Edmund received requests for other kinds of statues and stonework. He did exquisite carvings in marble, wreathes of flowers and leaves. He also carved an eagle and worked on a number of figures in marble. I have photographs of only one mythological piece - Hercules, in the Greek Heracles, wrestling a young lion.

Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures that show that sculpture from the front and the photograph shows what appear to be large baby bottles sticking out of the sculpture. Those were later removed and we are not entirely sure what they were. It is possible the stone was especially porous and allowing moisture to seep in slowly minimized the likelihood of the stone shattering while under the chisel and mallet.


Intricate Carving, an Eagle, Hercules in Battle

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Discoveries in a Basement

When my father died, we found a variety of decorative stone details one might use in a garden and six large metal cases full of chisels and other stone-working tools in the back corner of his basement. The cases seemed unusually heavy and when we opened them we found the tools submerged in a high quality oil. They hadn't been used in 25 years and they were in perfect condition. The oil my grandfather poured into each case prevented air and water from pitting or rusting the surface of the tools.

In 1951 after surviving both the brutal Nazi invasion and the equally brutal Soviet occupation of Poland, Edmund and his family emigrated to the United States. It is very likely that they survived World War II and the Holocaust because they were Catholic and because my great grandfather had money.

They eventually settled in Marietta, Georgia and bought a house on "Marble Mill Road." It was a pretty street not far from the town square, where tall oak trees shaded two story homes with wide front porches. As you continued down the road the houses gradually became smaller, little one story cottages and bungalows. The road curved gently and then dead ended at the entrance to a small stone quarry. Which of course, is where my grandfather and his oldest son, who would be my father, first found work in their adopted country, America.

The story continues....

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Comments 49 comments

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Very especial and neat article..., never thought of writing about a relative, perhaps I will...

Have a wonderful day - voted up

John


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

This country was built on people like that the hard working dedicated masons sculptors.. and so on.. but you show the art in the Marble and Stone a wonderful share PH... up and amazing :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you John. I was very fortunate in my choice of grandparents. :) My father's family are Polish immigrants. Intense, hard working, creative and eccentric intellectuals ...so they are fairly easy to write about.

Actually, I started out writing about and sharing my grandmother's art work (four Hubs, I think). My research and writing goal for the next couple of years is to compile and edit her poetry and then publish a book of poems and art plates. It occurred to me that I could gauge public reaction to her work by putting some of it up on HP.

I commenced writing a "paragraph" intro for her paintings and it suddenly was four pages long. The response to her paintings, batiks, and watercolors has been positive. Suddenly, I realized that I had yet to do an article about my grandfather. Hence, this Hub. :) Very glad you liked it.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Frank- That is exactly who they were and that is exactly who built this country. Hardworking immigrants from all over Europe and beyond. I am so glad you think it is a wonderful share. It is a privilege to share with others and in the process honor my family, their art, and their character.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

What a wonderful heritage to have in your family. And even better that you honor that with this hub. Voting this Up and Interesting.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you for your comments Alocsin. It has been and is a wonderful heritage. I appreciate your encouragement.


David Legg 7 profile image

David Legg 7 4 years ago from Trout Paradise, Colorado

Wow, he was an amazing artist! I love the images you've pulled together along with the compelling story. Thank you for sharing it!

David


Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Theresa,

You have beautifully showcased your grandfather's talent as a sculptor.

The intricate piece is my favourite. The detail is amazing.

I really enjoyed reading this one and look forward to the next chapter.

Voted up and away!

I hope you are enjoying the weekend.


Sky9106 profile image

Sky9106 4 years ago from A beautiful place on earth.

Thank you phdast, this is exactly what life is truly about and these are the places as far "forward" remember that word. not back this is beautiful, all beautiful things are up front , forward.

To make life easy for everyone I will use far backwards..

I am so glad that you are able to honor your folks in such a significant way, this is a glimpse into where the you's and the I 's started . Theses are the things that had to occur to get us here. Not to America, or where ever we live presently ,. But into life, this blessing that so many take for granted, into this reality.

As we continue and move ahead, sometimes to pass the torch. Lets all honor our parents and pass a beautiful torch filled with these priceless memories of truth. Thanks for sharing Theresa.

It's all fading, and that tells me something is about to take place , our fore parents did not do all this for a zero.When I watch what's being tolerated today being blamed on modern day.

Now time to us, is not same as it is, to the Most High. But something has to happen , this is not the way when looking around at the beauty that we met here .

Great read it flows , it grows and it is so correct to do, bless you!

Lets all give thanks.


Sky9106 profile image

Sky9106 4 years ago from A beautiful place on earth.

I am quite surprised that my dear brother is not around as yet ,this has his name written all over it. WD!

he will soon be.

Bless.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you David, for commenting on Marble and Stone. I have always admired his work, so it is really nice to see that other people recognize his talent as well. I am glad the story was compelling, there will be more and I will showcase the work he completed as he moved into his forties, fifties and sixties.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Sue- So glad you enjoyed his work and the Hub Its funny, I had spent so much time on my grandmother's art...and then I realized I had a box of old pictures and I could scan them and be able to write about his impressive body of work.

My grandmother was the vivacious, articulate, energetic one and he was polite and quiet and often stood in the background. So unfortunately, she often received the lion's share of the attention. But they were both extremely talented.

We are freezing here in Georgia, although I know that is laughable to anyone living up north. :) We are kind of pathetic whiners when the temperature drops to freezing or below, but we are so not used to it. But I am having a good weekend and shortly I am off to watch my grandson's basketball game. Hope your weekend goes well also. :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Skye- It has been a distinct pleasure to honor my father's parents in this way. Be cause my father was in the Air Force and we traveled a lot, I didn't have a the typical grandparent - grandchild relationship.

But I have some great memories from when I was very young and we lived in the same city.

Then when I was 17, I moved back to Georgia permanently and I got to know them all over again.

When I was in college, my grandmother in her sixties by then was busy taking art classes at the same college. She was quite a "character" and everybody on campus knew her. :)

I am glad the little narrative about Edmund "flowed." This kind of writing is pretty new to me. For the past twenty years, I have mostly done academic, research based writing. And they are very different! :)

I hope WD comes by. I would really like to hear his comments, since he is a talented sculptor and carver.

Off to a grandson's basket ball game. :) Many Blessings.


stessily 4 years ago

phdast7, It's interesting that your grandmother's artistry focused on vibrant colors while your grandfather's artistry concerned the inherent colors of natural objects. Not surprising in a way, especially in light of your comment above:

"My grandmother was the vivacious, articulate, energetic one and he was polite and quiet and often stood in the background."

Cemetery sculptures and grave markers are their own art form, with an expressiveness and grace which belie the rigidity of the materials such as marble. I have seen amazing memorials and statuary in cemeteries which turn a place of death into a place of life, peace, and love.

Thank you for sharing your grandparents' talents.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

stessily- It is interesting...the difference in their artistic style does very much parallel to their personalities. Some memorials and markers are just breathtakingly beautiful.

In the next two Hubs I hope to introduce his mature mid-life work which had nothing to do with cemeteries at all. See you then. You are very welcome and thanks so much for commenting.


Sky9106 profile image

Sky9106 4 years ago from A beautiful place on earth.

Hope the home team wins. lol And I can guarantee you WD, will be over soon.

Bless.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Well, they lost, but that is OK. Good life lesson: you win some, you lose some and what matters is whether you did your best, put your heart into it. And he did, so all is well. Have a good evening. :)


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Awesome hub. Your grandfather was a very talented man. Voted up and passed on.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

After all these years what a treat to get a glimpse of this character in your family's story. Well written and what pictures! Up and awesome!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Gypsy and thank you for passing it on. I didn't realize we could do that until about a week ago; now, I began pass on things that are really good or that maybe got overlooked the first time around. A great way to help fellow Hubbers and build community. I hope to do two more Hubs on my grandfather and his sculpture. Fortunately I have lots of pictures to choose from. Have a great day.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

It is strange, I don't know why it took me so long to focus on Edmund. Partly because he was a interesting and talented, but always in the background compared to Wanda;s intense articulate and flamboyant personality.

Also, I had no pictures of his work or any of his papers until we cleaned out Daddy's basement in July last year after Sylvia died. We found things I had never seen before. Thanks for the Up and Awesome! :)


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Very impressive...wow!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Will, you have encapsulated how we feel about his work in a single word. I plan to do 2 or 3 Hubs on the work he did after coming to America. Thanks for coming by and commenting.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 4 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

Phdast7, it is great to have your forebears involved in such a way. Did you ever have the opportunity to meet him when you were young? Cred2


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Credence2 - My family's involvement in Europe and World War II certainly increased my interest in History and Geography. Of course, my father being career Air Force didn't hurt either. :)

I am sorry I didn't make that clear. I never met my great grandfather (who had the business, owned the villa). He stayed in Poland after the war and died about 15 years later.

I got to spend time with Edmund/my grandfather whenever we came back to Georgia between base transfers. And I settled in Georgia after I got married in my early twenties. So I got to know him pretty well in the 15 years before he died.

Thanks for reading and commenting. phdast7


Theocharis V profile image

Theocharis V 4 years ago from Piraeus, Greece

I really liked this hub! Bravo


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you. So glad you liked it.


SusieQ42 4 years ago

I love this hub too! It's absolutely beautiful. Do you have one about how your grandparents met? I'll have to go look. Thanks for sharing!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Susie-

Susie- Thanks for your encouraging and enthusiastic response. :) I have several Hubs about my grandmother's art (and hope to do more about my grandfather's sculpture), but a couple of them are mostly pictures and little text. I think the one that tells the most about the family history is called "A Polish-American Artist."

It doesn't tell how they met, because I don't know and they are both gone now, but it does tell some of their story - leaving Poland, coming to America. Thanks again for your comments. It is so great to find readers who love art and history! :)


ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago

Hey girl , You don't just write about history you are a huge part of it ! The more I have learned about WWII history the more I realize how the Polish people suffered at more than one hand , the Germans . The Russians .....and from within . Beautiful tribute to some awesome hands . The sculpter! Voted up!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

He was very gifted and it is a pleasure and a privilege to share his work with others (there is more coming in the future, about him and my grandmother who was a poet and a painter).

And you are right, as a first-generation American and an Air Force brat. I have had many opportunities to travel and live history and geography. The Polish people did indeed suffer quite terribly under both regimes.

Ten years ago I had an opportunity to spend a week in Poland (I was the female chaperone for the young women on a mission's trip sponsored by the university where I work). It was a wonderful and meaningful trip.

Thanks for your comments and encouragement.... and Votes, of Course!. They are much appreciated. :) Theresa


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa

You have much to be grateful for having such heritage to reflect upon. How very gifted your grandfather was and thanks for publishing photos of his work.

Voted interesting!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

This is amazing. Your grandfather is certainly talented. When I looked at the first photo, I could have been looking at my own grandfather. He was an architect and stone mason from Italy. He attended universtiy in Florence, Italy, then came to America in 1920. These were truly educated, talented and creative men. I have been wanting to do a hub about my grandfather also, but the photos are all up in Ohio, and I was waiting until I got there this summer, to write one.

Your grandfather's work is exquisite and outstanding It is so good to read this and I admire your grandfather immensely. No wonder you are so creative!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

LadyLyell - I am very fortunate to have such talented and artistic grandparents. Just knowing them greatly expanded my interests and horizons. That you for your vote and the encouraging comments. :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

suzzette - So your grandfather was an architect and stone mason from Italy? Amazing! They were both well educated and very talented. :) My grandparents came over in 1941, it was the soonest they could get approval from the US govt and book passage for America after the horrors of World War II.

This summer you must find those photos and write that Hub! I hope to write a couple more about Edmund"s later work, here in America. Take care. :)


stessily 4 years ago

phdast7, I've come back in order to mark this tribute to your grandfather for sharing so readers who are enjoying your recent tribute to his wife, Wanda, may have a complete picture of this creative couple.

Appreciatively, Stessily


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thannk you stessily. That is very kind of you. They were an amazingl;y creative couple. :)


cody ast 4 years ago

hey i am edmunds great grand child through justyns oldest son kazimierz edmond ast (eddie ast) i was curious about the family history and my dad just passed and i can no longer asked him questions so that i may pass on to my kids i was thrilled when i found this page but i would like to read more on the family history thanks


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Cody! I am so glad you found this page. I have also written several articles on Bopcia and her artwork. They are all listed on my home page. Just go to Hubpages.com and then type in phdast7 and it will take you to a listing of all my articles. I hope to do two more articles on Edmund, but I teach college history full time and that has kept me really busy.

Your dad, Eddie and I were cousins of course. All my family was very sad when he died so unexpectedly and at such a young age. Years and years and years ago Eddie attended the same church that my brothers and I did. Lots of memories.

Please feel free to share the information with any other family members, so they can read about Edmund and Wanda. Good to hear from you. Take care. Theresa Ast


molometer profile image

molometer 3 years ago

OMW your grandfather was incredible.

These carvings are beautiful and so evocative of the period. They seem to cross the line between modernism, cubism and deco.

Just a quick comment now. Must come back and give this the time it deserves. Stunning.

Michael.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Michael --

I am so glad you appreciated his work. He was incredibly good. He couldn't support his family as a sculptor when he got to the US. He never got rid o fhis very heavy Polish acent and had a hard time communicating with clients and he was a (not surprisingly) temeramental perfectionist!

He would recast and recast his commisioned works (bronze, brass, etc) to eliminate microscopic problems in the finish that only he (not the clients)could see....so he often lost money on his projects. He ended up taking a full-time job with Lockheed Martin (Marietta, GA) as a skilled draftmas and worked on his own projects on weekends.

I need to do at least two more hubs that show the work he completed in Americs It will really knock your socks off. He was commissioned to do a family scene for an insurance company in the Midwest (no, not Alstate) and the figures were five times life size. Talking about it makes me want to try and do it before the end of the year. I will try. Got to get busy. :) Theresa

P.S. You used one of my favorite words -- evocative. :)


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

To think how easily all of his talent could have been lost it must be especially joyful and humbling to be able to tell us your grandfather's story! It is a lovely thing that you were able to reconnect with your grandparents as a young adult.

I've always been drawn to stone carvings. To me they are compelling, and I enjoyed this hub very much. Looking forward to more of the story… :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

RT - We know that thousands and even millions die in these terrible historical events, but large numbers are so hard to grasp. But you are right, I grew up surrounded by people who were not meant to have families, create art, grow old together. Not only was he a sculptor, his wife - Wanda Ast, was a poet, a gifted painter (I have several hubs about her work) and in the last two decades of her life took up Batik print-making. Our whole extended family could have so easily never grown. It is both sobering to think about and a great blessing to share with each other. Take care and have a wonderful Christmas. :) Blessings! ~~Theresa


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

Such beautiful work! Both yours and your grandfather's. You come from such an artistic background. Do you dabble in the arts as well?


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello Audrey - He did do some amazing and beautiful work. I hope to eventually do two more hubs about his later sculptural work. He actually worked as a blueprint draftsman at Lockheed Aeronautics, until he retired to support the family. He devoted time to sculpture on weekends and vacation days. I am not artistic the way he and Wanda were. My gifts are in language and with words, although I ahve a good eye for color and design,but I cannot draw or paint. :) Theresa


Valleypoet 3 years ago

What an incredible story, your grandfather was clearly a very talented man...the pictures are amazing...thank you for sharing :-))


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Valleypoet - You are so welcome. Thanks for rading the hub and commenting. He was rather amazing and I hope to do one or two more hubs on his later work.


Brenda Head 3 years ago

When I went to your FB page I noticed this article and the one about the power of one. I so enjoyed reading them. I especially enjoyed this article about your family. Theresa I believe you have a book in the making.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Why thank you Brenda. I am working on writing the preface to a book of my Polish grandmother's poems (still editing and organizing them). You may have noticed on hubpages.com phdast7 that I have three articles about my grandmother's paintings and I hope to do another hub or two about Edmund as well. Never really thought about a book - something to ponder. :) How nice it was to see your name pop up. I hope all is well. :) Theresa

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