Ed Menges Bio-mythographeology

The life of Edward Menges as spoken by the people who knew him.

Edward Menges Biography 

Obituary written by the family members of Edward

Edward Ellwood Menges, Jr., age 96,

“A Professor of Fine Arts at Florissant Valley Community College for 22 years from 1967-1986, and renowned St. Louis artist, passed away on Saturday, October 7, 2017.

He is survived by his wife of more than 30 years, Jane Menges, his only child, Kristen Menges, only grandson, Christopher Menges, and former wife Mariann Menges (nee Rosenfeld.)

For many years, he flew his Cessna 150 as part of the Confederate Air Force at Smartt Field of St. Charles County and Creve Coeur Airport.   Edward was born in St. Louis in 1921.  He grew up in University City while attending Delmar Harvard Elementary School.  As a boy, he enjoyed building, painting and flying model airplanes, bicycling, walking through Forest Park, and playing stick ball in the alley behind his apartment.

His father was a music teacher and composer, while his mother worked as a salesgirl at a local department store in ladies ready-to-wear. Edward’s first jobs to help pay his way through college included working at Maul’s and A&P Grocery Store for $.25/hour. He also worked production to build .50 caliber machine gun ammunition. Edward graduated from University City High School in 1940. In high school, he was active in Strut and Fret, a theater arts program, and was active in contributing art and photography for the school newspaper.  

He was a member of the Tiger Battery Second Platoon, which prepared interested students to assist in the war effort after graduation. In is not surprising that Edward returned to University City after his formal education to teach Art at U. City High School.   He was also an assistant to the cheer-leading squad.   

Edward was so popular, his students remember him fondly to this day. 

After high school, Edward attended the University of Missouri in Columbia and earned his Bachelor of Fine Art. He was an active member of the Missouri Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. After completing ROTC and graduating as a Second Lieutenant in Field Artillery, at 19, Edward proudly voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Army in June, 1942.   He completed Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, after which he taught artillery trainees, then was ordered overseas active duty. 

As a Second Lieutenant, he served as a Forward Artillery Unit Commander from January, 1944 to December, 1946. His duty in the American Theater included the Rhineland, Austria, Germany and other parts of Central Europe. After the conclusion of WWII he continued his service in the U.S. Army Reserves until his retirement in 1981 at the rank of Captain. After Honorable Discharge from active Army service, Edward earned his Master of Fine Arts from the State University of Iowa.   

After teaching art at University City High School and Washington University, Edward accepted a position as an art professor at the newly opened campus of Florissant Valley Junior College. He retired after 22 years of teaching there. With plenty of time, Edward devoted himself to painting with his favorite subjects, landscapes inspired by Forest Park and most recently paintings of football and baseball players. For the past several years (as his dementia progressed) Edward and Jane ate breakfast every morning at Lakeside at the St. Louis Zoo giving the beginning of each day a pleasant start.”    

Dumpster Archeology research has included certain finds.  

From Mariann Menges  (his first wife)  in a feature article from Ladue News

“At age 16, the former Mariann Rosenfeld graduated from University City High School. She then graduated from Washington University with a lifetime teaching degree. Turning down a full scholarship at Lindenwood University, she was able to attend Washington University tuition-free because her husband, Edward Menges, taught there. “I married my high-school art teacher, the most handsome man of the time,” she declares.

Mariann and Edward waited two years after she graduated to get married. And although her parents were opposed to their daughter marrying an older man, her mother made the wedding dress, and mailed it to her for her Iowa wedding.

Married for 30 years, the couple stayed a year in New Year while Menges studied at the Art Students League, and spent summers teaching and painting in Martha’s Vineyard. They also spent a year in Europe with their 13-year-old daughter, Kristen. There, the family traveled via Volkswagen camper to paint the different landscapes and changing of the seasons.

“We painted in almost every European country and visited every church and art museum we could find,” Menges recalls. She says with very little money, they could not afford down sleeping bags so they slept in their clothes to keep warm. Meals were cooked on a Coleman burner. “We ate a lot of stew and canned foods with fancy European names,” she remembers, adding that they parked their van on the parking lots of famous European hotels. “We stayed at the finest hotels in Europe—unfortunately, it was only in their parking lots. I hope it was not sacrilegious that I washed dishes on the grounds across from the Vatican in Rome!”

At one time, when her husband was working as a photographer for the St. Louis Football Cardinals, she sketched portraits of the players for the NFL program cover that she later sold at a private art show.

Following her divorce from Edward, Menges returned to Europe.”

Edward Menges : Zeitgeist

At the Art Institute of Chicago sponsored 61st American exhibition of paintings and sculpture in 1954,  Edward’s painting “Zeitgeist” was featured, along with hundreds of other accomplished artists.  Art institute of Chicago 

In 2011, Edward was also featured in the St Louis Artist guild’s show Featured Collectors choice.  His painting “Serenity”  was such a choice.    St Louis Artist Guild  

An article by Jonathan W Kodner in Magnificent Missouri mentions Edward and his landscape use of light.  

“As an artist, he devotes most of his time to painting en pleinair, meaning he works outdoors, so that the exact moment he is experiencing, such as the light in the sky at sunset or the bend of atree in the breeze, is what ends up on his canvas. This process, pioneered by the great Impressionists of the 19th century, is also embraced by Missouri painters Benjamin Guthee, Joan Parker, Bixby Childress, Linda Green-Metzler, and Ed Menges, all of whom use natural light and color to depict landscape in its purest form.”

Of course the infamous 1969 press photo of his controversial “cross painting” in which he survived his position at the college.    

A few days after his death, Edward Menges’s last paintings were found by a dumpster.  

This is that story   “The Last Paintings of Edward Menges.