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“Form and color are my primary concerns.”
-Charlotte Schatz, 2005
Painter and sculptor Charlotte Schatz’s artistic career was characterized by distinct periods of production and style. Though she began her artistic career as an artist who created solely in two dimensions, from 1969 to 1983 she worked primarily as a sculptor. During this period she created cast and fabricated minimalist-inspired works in metals, plastics, glass, wood, and mirrors. Though unified in its minimalism, her work from this period varies greatly in terms of scale, materials, and tone. Circum Cum Circumflex (1969), for instance, is a series of intimately sized, cast aluminum objects that, due to its minimalist style and mysterious Latin title, leaves its ultimate meaning open-ended and totally up to the viewer. However, her Pipe Environment (1982) is contrastingly straightforward. Nearly four feet tall, it is exactly what its title implies: a sculpture made completely out of pipes.
Schatz had then attributed her shift in focus from two to three dimensions to a course she took at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Schatz earned her BFA from the institution in 1969 and then returned to the school in 1978-1979 for a period of graduate study. Not long after leaving the Tyler School of Art for a second time, Schatz’s style changed again. In 1983, she returned to painting and drawing in oils, acrylics, and mixed media. However, this time Schatz’s subject matter dealt with contemporary issues such as homelessness, environmental changes, and the toll of war. Works such as Madonna of the Streets (1989), Environmental Predella Panel (1989), and Guernica/Bosnia (1992) are all much more direct in subject and tone than Schatz’s minimalist sculpture; each painting forces the viewer to directly confront the issue at hand.
When she moved her studio to the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia in 1995, Schatz’s focus shifted once more. While she continued to make paintings concerned with political issues, she also became fascinated with the many abandoned buildings in her neighborhood. The surrounding deserted factories, with their many steam pipes, water towers, and powerfully geometric architecture, became the subjects for an extended series of paintings that investigates the urban landscape in North Philadelphia. In the tradition of artists such as Precisionist painters Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth, Schatz's vivid, dynamic paintings and drawings transform derelict structures and machinery into explorations of color, form, and rhythm. This style developed even further when Schatz traveled to the south of France when on sabbatical from her teaching position at Bucks County Community College. According the artist, the trip was inspiring and she, “returned to the studio with a heightened sense of color and form.” In paintings such as Souvenir De Arles (1996), Schatz treated a residential French street as she had previously been painting abandoned factories. Though a completely different environment, we are able to see formal connections in paintings from her French trip to those created in Philadelphia. The strong lines, simple geometric forms, and sense of space utilized in both series enable to viewer to explore spaces that otherwise might be too linked with certain connotations. For example, North Philadelphia may be assumed dirty and derelict, while Southern France is romantic and beautiful – without prejudice. Through her work Schatz enabled the viewer to isolate and investigate “the dimensional aspects of the landscape and architecture.”
Schatz remained fascinated with, “the detritus of the Industrial Age,” but, as she had done throughout her career, her methods continued to change. Beginning in the early 2000s, she introduced oil paint sticks over acrylic paint as well as digital collages created in Photoshop to her repertoire. The artist dubbed works created through this hybrid process “combines,” perhaps in reference to sculptor and painter Robert Rauschenberg’s own label-defying work of the same title. Though certainly reminiscent of her earlier paintings of urban buildings and decay, as Schatz herself noted, “These pieces are much more abstract than my industrial sites – more about color, texture, and surface.” Indeed, when placed within the context of her larger career, Schatz’s "combines" are evidence of the artist’s ever evolving technique and style.
Schatz’s work has been exhibited at the Michener Art Museum in A Legacy Preserved, The First Decade of Collecting at the Michener Museum (1998), The Contemporary Eye (2005), and Parting Gifts: Artists Honor Bruce Katsiff, Director/CEO, 1989-2012 (2012).
Charlotte Schatz. Image courtesy of the artist. James A. Michener Art Museum archives.
Education and Training
Tyler School of Art, BFA, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1969
Tyler School of Art, Graduate Studies, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1978-1979
Skidmore College, Summer Graduate Studies, Saratoga Springs, New York, 1983
Drexel University, Computer Studies, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1994
Teachers and Influences
Instructors David Pease and Stephen Tarantal at the Tyler School of Art
Jim Sterrit was a mentor, and Schatz referred to Italo Scanga as a "mentor and muse."
Connection to Bucks County
Charlotte Schatz lived in Levittown from 1969 until she moved to Philadelphia. From 1973 to 1998, Schatz taught at Bucks County Community College. She was Professor Emeritus of Art at Bucks County Community College.
Colleagues and Affiliations
Charlotte Schatz served on the Middletown Township Arts and Culture Commission and the Levittown Artist's Association. She was an art professor at Bucks County Community College from 1973 to 1998. Since then she had been Professor Emeritus of Art at Bucks County Community College. She exhibited her work widely in the area, and curated and juried many local exhibitions. Her friends and colleagues included painter and sculptor Robert Dodge, photographer Bruce Katsiff, printmaker Selma Bortner, painter and chair of the art department at Bucks County Community College, Frank Dominguez, sculptor John Matthews, painter and sculptor Marlene Miller, printmaker Caren Friedman, and sculptor and teacher Joan Menapace.
Charlotte Schatz (b. 1929), Homage to the Dissapeared #1. Acrylic on paper. 24 x 36 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.
Major Solo Exhibitions
Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1970
Abington Art Center, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, 1975
Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1975
Stockton College, Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1976
Rider College, Lawrenceville, New Jersey, 1977
The Disasters of War, Hicks Art Center, Bucks County Community College, Newtown, Pennsylvania, 1986
Esther Klein Gallery, University City Science Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1993
Conant Hall Gallery, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey, 1999
Urban Ruins, Jasuta, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2000
Recent Work, Pennswood Village Gallery, Newtown, Pennsylvania, 2001
Urban Horizons, Toad Hall Gallery, Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, New Jersey, 2004
Urban Ruins Transformed, Pei Towers, Commerce Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2006
Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
University City Science Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Bucks County Community College, Newtown, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State Museum, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
TAH Industries, Robbinsville, New Jersey
Quaker Chemical Company, Norristown, Pennsylvania
Selected Group Exhibitions
Regional Sculpture Exhibition, Philadelphia Civic Center Museum, Philadelphia, PA, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973
Art From New Jersey, New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973
Against the Grain, Bucks County Community College, Newtown, PA, 1985
Annual Awards Painting Exhibition, Cheltenham Art Center, Cheltenham, PA, 1989, 1992
Delaware Art Museum Annual, Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, Delaware, 1989
Atelier Rachita, Paris, France, 1990
Phillips' Mill Community Association, New Hope, PA, 1991, 1992, 1993
A Show of Hands, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, PA, 1992
Works on Paper, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, 1994
Assouline & Ting, Philadelphia, PA, 1995, 1996, 1997
Women Revisioning the Sacred, Muse Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, 1996
The Many Faces of Faith, Balch Institute of Ethnic Studies, Philadelphia, PA, 1997
Pennsylvania Treasures I, University City Science Center, Philadelphia, PA, 1998
The Legacy Preserved: 10 Years of Collecting, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA, 1998
Tres Emeriti, Bucks County Community College, Newtown, PA, 1998
National Drawing '98, College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ, 1998
Gritty City: The Eloquence of Decay, Borowsky Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, 1999
Painting Annual, Cheltenham Art Center, Cheltenham, PA, 1999
Uncommon Landscapes, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ, 1999
Pictura Lucida, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA, 2000
The Contemporary Eye, Michener Art Museum, New Hope, PA, 2005
Third Biennial Exhibition of the Senior Artists Initiative, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA, 2006
Woodmere Art Museum Annual, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA, 2008
The Art Trust Gallery, West Chester, PA, 2008
2006 Exhibitors, Philadelphia Museum of Art Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA, 2007
Abington Art Center Annual, Abington Art Center, Jenkintown PA, 2007
Parting Gifts: Artists Honor Bruce Katsiff, Director/CEO, 1989-2012, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA, 2012
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Professor Emeritus, Art Department, Bucks County Community College, 1998 until 2023
Professor, Art Department, Bucks County Community College, 1973-1998
President, Philadelphia Chapter, Women's Caucus for Art, 1987-1989
Awards in numerous juried exhibitions such as the Philadelphia Civic Center Museum, Cheltenham Painting and Sculpture Annuals, and the Abington Art Center
Leeway Foundation established grant, 2000
Pollock-Krasner grant, 2004
Affiliations and Memberships
Middletown Township Art & Culture Commission, 1960s
Sculpture Committee, Philadelphia Art Alliance, 1973-1984
Levittown Artist's Association
Philadelphia Chapter, Women's Caucus for Art
Tyler School of Art Alumni Board of Directors, 1999 until 2023
Senior Artist Initiative Board of Directors, 2006- until 2023
Art in Northern Liberties Corresponding Secretary, 2001-2004
Circum Cum Circumflex
Lux Hexas Circumventas
Water Tower Combine #2
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