One Man’s Gift
A community ponders life without Leeper.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
It’s like the Pope without the robes, politics without the pandering, the Pacific without the waves. Monterey County without Ed Leeper – a lot of people can’t picture it. “Oh, I can’t imagine,” says local activist Barbara Bass Evans. “It would be like the heart and soul was ripped out of out of the community. “I can’t even envision a world without Ed,” says local open-government watchdog Michael Stamp. “Last Chance Mercantile would miss one of their best customers. “I think he may live forever.” Stamp, with Leeper-like irreverence, is only being half silly when he invokes immortality. “So long as there are people who have seen Ed’s work or talked with Ed,” he says, “Ed won’t go anywhere.” If he did, Arts Council Community Arts and Education Director Kira Carrillo Corser feels she knows what the community would miss. “An asset, really and truly,” she says, “because he pushes boundaries of art that few people in Monterey County try. He keeps us on our toes.” Stamp boils down what a Leeper-less county would lack by way of an anecdote. “I had an office-opening party six or eight years ago,” he says. “Ed came, and brought me a present. It was a piece of wood wrapped up to look like a present, about the size of a hardbound book, shellacked, shut and varnished. “ ‘I said to him, ‘How nice.’ He said, ‘Don’t open it.’ “ ‘What’s in it?’ “ ‘Nothing. It’s just a present.’ ” Stamp pauses. “That’s what Ed is,” he says. “A present.”