May 10, 2020: Loss of Eric Renner

Loss of Eric Renner: Eric Renner

Eric Renner of San Lorenzo, New Mexico, an artist and leading authority on pinhole photography died unexpectedly on April 9th in Las Cruces, NM, after experiencing a massive heart attack. Mr. Renner was 78 years old.

Mr. Renner was born in 1941 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, the son of Richard L. Renner, a graphic artist, and Emma (Josie) Wallach Renner, an occupational therapist.

Mr. Renner grew up in Ambler, sixteen miles from Philadelphia. He earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, and a Master of Fine Arts from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. 

Mr. Renner settled in New Mexico, first in Santa Fe and then the Mimbres Valley, near Silver City, where he built a home with studio facilities that both reflected and enabled his unique artistic outlook. He created pinhole images that are in the collections of museums around the world including: The Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City; The International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; and the national museums of Canada, Brazil, France, and Poland. Mr. Renner’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions in the U.S., China, Japan, Brazil and elsewhere. He wrote Pinhole Photography: From Historic Technique to Digital Application, now in it’s fourth printing,  and received numerous grants and honors, including, along with his wife, Nancy Spencer, the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence In The Arts in 2015.

Renner and Spencer donated the Pinhole Resource Collection of 6,000 photographs from 500 photographers in 35 countries to the New Mexico Museum of History, Palace of the Governors Photo Archive in 2013. The “Poetics of Light” exhibition which featured the Pinhole Resource collection opened at the museum in April, 2014, and ran for one and a half years. “Poetics of Light” later travelled to the National Media Museum in Bradford, England.

With his wife and collaborator Nancy Spencer, Mr. Renner made photographs, built assemblages, and taught photography. The two directed Pinhole Resource, a clearinghouse and purveyor of books, supplies, and information on lensless photography. Between 1985 and 2006, they also published Pinhole Journal, a fine art periodical featuring pinhole images and relevant articles.  Renner is represented by “A Light Art Space” in Silver City, New Mexico.

Eric Renner was a rare and beautiful soul whose spirit will long remain in the minds of the many people whose lives he touched. He is remembered for his wild, crazy hair, engaging smile, colorful wardrobe, passion for pinhole photography and his uplifting sense of humor. But above all else, he will be remembered for an aura that glowed with a persuasive, happy-in-his-own-skin surety that was both enviable and inspirational.

Eric is survived by his wife Nancy Spencer, sister Susan Schoenfeld of Souderton, Pennsylvania; sons, Zephyr Renner of Albuquerque, New Mexico and Yarian Renner of Los Angeles, California; stephchildren Yates Spencer of Lexington, Virginia and Beth Spencer of Silver City, New Mexico and her husband Abel Duffy; stepgrandchildren Ely Spencer, Gus Spencer and Sam Spencer of Lexington, Virginia and Milo Duffy of Silver City, New Mexico; cousin Evan Koch of Spirit Lake, Idaho; and dear friends Bolek Peplowski of Portland, Maine, Scott McMahon of Columbia, Missouri and Nilu Izadi Nuthall of London, England.