Update: Kea’s Ark was awarded the 2021 Mid-Atlantic Emmy in the long form arts program category!
State of the Arts has been nominated for two 2021 Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards! Eric Schultz’s W. Carl Burger: A Painter’s Life and Susan Wallner’s Kea’s Ark have both been nominated in the long form arts program category. Winners will be announced September 25—but you can learn more about both documentaries here in the meantime! Both of these documentaries were released during the pandemic, when filming all but halted, so we are particularly proud to share this news with you today.
W. Carl Burger: A Painter’s Life explores the journey and work of a much-loved New Jersey artist and teacher as he celebrates his 95th birthday. The German-born artist came to the United States at age one in 1926. As a teenager he was declared an enemy alien. As an 18-year-old American soldier, Carl returned to Pforzheim, the decimated German city of his birth, during WWII. After the war, he became a revered professor at Kean University in New Jersey. Throughout the documentary, we hear from a host of friends, fellow artists, students, and New Jersey’s First Lady Tammy Murphy. A large watercolor by W. Carl Burger depicting the Jersey shore is the only work by a living artist now hanging at Drumthwacket, the official residence of the Governor of New Jersey. Also featured is the Morris Museum’s current retrospective spanning seven decades of Carl’s astonishingly diverse career. W. Carl Burger: Mastery of the Medium brings together his watercolors created as an American soldier in Normandy, magnificent oil landscapes, intricate and provocative pencil drawings, and more. Produced by Eric Schultz.
Kea Tawana was a self-taught engineer and artist who built a 3-story ark in Newark’s Central Ward in the mid-1980s, using building materials salvaged from an area fast becoming an urban wasteland. She worked on it for years before city officials took note and demanded it gone. It no longer exists, but Kea’s Ark remains a powerful symbol of hope in Newark and beyond.
Featured in the documentary are rare archival clips of Kea Tawana and her ark, as well as interviews with people who knew her including the photographer and historian Camilo José Vergara and artist Willie Cole. Writer John Keene, artist Kevin Sampson, historian Mark Krasovic, curator Emma Wilcox, and other friends of Kea are featured as well.
Kea’s Ark is a production of PCK Media in cooperation with Stockton University. Underwriting was provided by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, and the New Jersey Historical Commission. Kea Tawana’s work is presented in cooperation with Gallery Aferro and The Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University-Newark. Produced, directed, and written by Susan Wallner. Narrated by Brandon Webster.