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"...Generous, eager and lively, she rejoices in color and movement and translates that color and movement into vivacious pigment. She gravitates toward subjects that sparkle with pattern and bright hues-the circus, the theater, ballets, the summer life of Philadelphia's parks, children, the Atlantic beaches. She rejoices in the sensuous feel of paint. She responds to the gay and alert aspects of life."
-Henry Pitz, artist and critic
Painter Paulette van Roekens, a.k.a. Paulette van Roekens Meltzer, was born in France and attended the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art and Design) and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Her talent was recognized early on, and in 1916, she was awarded the John Sartain Fellowship at the Philadelphia School of Design. Her early paintings often were of still lifes, using flowers, pots, and tables. She worked in pastels, monotype, and oils. In later years, she found new expressions of color and movement. Circuses, merry-go-rounds, balloons, ballet dancers, beach scenes with umbrellas, kites, moving people, and butterflies were among the many subjects that interested her. From 1923 to 1961, Van Roekens taught painting and drawing at the Moore Institute alongside her husband, painter Arthur Meltzer. She won many awards, and her work is represented in several art institutions. Van Roekens had fourteen solo exhibitions and exhibited in principal museums in this country including the National Academy of Design in New York, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She also exhibited in South America.
Photograph of Paulette Van Roekens, 1958. Image courtesy of Davis Meltzer.
Education and Training
Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art and Design), 1915
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Teachers and Influences
Study of sculpture with Samuel Murray at Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art and Design).
Study with Charles Grafly at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, as well as with Henry Snell, Joseph Pierson and Leopold Seyfert
Connection to Bucks County
Paulette van Roekens moved to Bucks County with her husband and fellow teacher and painter, Arthur Meltzer. They bought a 100-year-old stone farm house near Trevose in 1928. They restored the house and landscaped the three and a half acres. In 1952, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission notified them that a new highway was to go through their home and that they had six months to move. Since the Turnpike Commission only wanted the land, they were able to move parts of the house and trees to their new home in Huntingdon Valley. Van Roekens exhibited locally at Phillips' Mill in New Hope and in Doylestown. She taught for thirty-eight years at the Moore Institute (now Moore College of Art and Design), where a scholarship fund was established in her name in honor of her 90th birthday.
Colleagues and Affiliations
Arthur Meltzer (husband), Katherine Steele Renninger, Davis Meltzer (son), Henry Snell, Helen and George Papashvily, Ben Solowey, William A. Smith
Paulette van Roekens (1895-1988), And the Little Brown Jug, 1930. Oil. 30 x 40 inches. Image courtesy of Davis Meltzer.
Major Solo Exhibitions
Paulette van Roekens had fourteen solo exhibitions, including Retrospective Exhibition, Moore College of Art and Design College of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1962
Major Group Exhibitions
Philadelphia Sketch Club, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1922
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1918-1921, 1923-1925, 1927, 1928-1934 (prize), 1937-1939
National Academy of Design, New York, New York, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1934, 1936
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1921, 1923, 1926, 1933, 1937, 1939, 1943
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 1921, 1923, 1925, 1927-1930
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1922-1924
Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1951
Woodmere Art Gallery (now the Woodmere Art Museum), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1946 (prize), 1966
Early Women Artists of Bucks County, Bucks County Council on the Arts, Rodman House, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1979
Selected Major Collections
Allentown Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania School of Design for Women Alumnae (now the Moore College of Art and Design), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Major Theatre Performances
Set designer for musical comedy Why Not
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Instructor, Graphic Sketch Club, Philadelphia, 1920-1927
Professor, Painting and Drawing, Moore Institute (now Moore College of Art and Design), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1924-1960
L.H.D., Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts, Moore College of Art and Design, 1961
Professor Emeritus, Moore College of Art and Design, 1983
Instructor, Cheltenham High School, Cheltenham, Pennsylvania
Gold Medal, First Prize, Plastic Club, 1922
Bronze Medal, First Prize, Philadelphia Sketch Club, 1922
Fellowship Prize, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1951
Mary T. Mason Prize, Woodmere Art Gallery, 1965
Affiliations and Memberships
National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors
Pennsylvania Academy of Art Alliance of America
Phillips' Mill Community Association
Woodmere Art Gallery
Paulette Van Roekens Meltzer Scholarship Endowment Fund, Moore College of Art and Design, created posthumously
Victory Loan on Chestnut Street
City Hall Towers
Untitled Still Life
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