Posted September 19, 2017

Then & Now: Robert Cartmell

Tags: Gallery News

Albany Center Gallery Presents Extensive Exhibition of Drawings, Paintings and Prints in Then & Now: Robert Cartmell

Albany, New York – August 1, 2017 – Albany Center Gallery is pleased to showcase Then & Now: Robert Cartmell, an exhibition of drawings, paintings and prints, from September 19 through October 20, 2017. The gallery’s annual Then & Now exhibit features work by artists who have shown in the gallery previously and whose careers have made a significant contribution to the local art community. An artist’s reception will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, September 21, 2017, and the public is invited to attend.

Cartmell is a printmaker, painter, and expert on all things roller coaster. He spent two years in the Army in Japan and, thanks to the GI Bill, received his BFA from University of Chicago. Post-graduation, he received the James Nelson Raymond Foreign Traveling Fellowship from the Art Institute of Chicago, which enabled him to travel to 14 different countries over the course of two years. While in Florence, he discovered the work of Mauricio Lasansky, considered to be one of the Fathers of 20th Century American Printmaking due to his dedication to passing along his printmaking knowledge to scores of students. Inspired by Lasansky’s work, especially the importance of line, Cartmell enrolled himself in the Printmaking MA/MFA program at University of Iowa. He studied etching with Lasansky during the program, and ultimately became Lasansky’s graduate assistant. Cartmell received his MFA in 1969, and began his illustrious career as a professor at State University of New York at Albany the following year. In 1975, he curated a show called Coast to Coast Coasters that travelled to 75 different locations throughout the country. Afterwards, he began to work on The Incredible Scream Machine. With the book, Cartmell became the country’s leading roller coaster expert.

Then & Now: Robert Cartmell will feature over 50 drawings, paintings and prints from a span of 40+ years of Robert Cartmell’s artistic career. Included in the exhibition are several pieces created with Cartmell’s signature, self-invented painting technique, such as his acrylic glass transfers Carousel Horse and Red Bell. Cartmell embraces a theme-and-variation routine in his artistic practice, creating groups of work focused on imagery including roller coasters, carousel horses, brass rings, childlike figures, twins, and artist studios. His skilled use of repetition, pattern, and parallel lines stand out in his work regardless of subject matter, indicative of the musical influence in his life.

Roller coasters surface frequently throughout Cartmell’s work; their curving, cross-hatched structures pop up as tiny details in the distance in his 1992 mixed media drawing Mid City Park or looming in the foreground of Julie’s Playground (the show postcard image). He views amusement parks “like a theater. And you have a whole range of emotions – from people being giddily happy to real terror… People are scared to death, you got it all there.” Cartmell attests that roller coasters are symbolic of the ups and downs of life, deploying them as a metaphor to demonstrate the risks and excitement we experience in everyday life.

Cartmell’s most notable imprint on the local scene is his long and distinguished career as Professor Emeritus of Art at UAlbany. He developed the etching and intaglio program for the university and passionately taught students the craft of printmaking for decades, passing along his extensive knowledge. Teaching brought him joy and he educated his students to think visually, testifying that “the best art needs intense visual concentration to truly enjoy.” Cartmell’s drive to preserve the art of printmaking through production and education is perhaps inspired by his relationship with Lasansky.

Cartmell has been showcased at numerous galleries over the years, including the SUNY Albany Art Museum, Carrie Haddad Gallery, Haenah-Kent Gallery and Anita Shapolsky Gallery in New York. Other shows include a traveling exhibition in Korea and exhibitions in Moscow and Leningrad; one-man shows in Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles; plus many juried and invitational exhibitions: Contemporary American Prints, COLORPRINT U.S.A., Modern Printmakers, Silvermine International Print Exhibition, American Graphics, International Triennial of Colored Graphic Prints (Switzerland), American Graphics, Boston Printmakers, Library of Congress National Print Exhibition, MULTIPLES U.S.A., International Graphics, and over 80 others.

Then & Now: Robert Cartmell will be showcased at Albany Center Gallery from September 19 to October 20, 2017. The public is invited to attend an artist’s reception on Thursday, September 21, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Albany Center Gallery, 488 Broadway, Albany NY 12207.

Albany Center Gallery is a non-profit art space dedicated to exhibiting skillful contemporary art of the Mohawk Hudson region and to building a strong, knowledgeable audience for the visual arts. The mission of Albany Center Gallery is to promote and exhibit contemporary visual art produced by emerging and established artists living primarily in the region and to inspire interest and provide enjoyment to an increasingly diverse audience.

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