Robert Qualters talks at Peters Library

Published Apr 21, 2014 at 10:49 am (Updated Apr 21, 2014 at 10:49 am)

Noted Pittsburgh artist Robert Qualters recently spoke about his paintings at an April 14 presentation at the Peters Township Public Library. He also discussed the release of a compilation of his works in a book by Vicky Clark titled “Autobiographical Mythologies.”

Born in 1934, Qualters is originally from Clairton and has lived the majority of his life in Pittsburgh. He was the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts Artist of the Year in 1985 and has a permanent collection at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland, the California Museum of Art and the Westmoreland County Museum of Art. His works are also displayed in the main officers of several businesses, schools and government agencies. He has also taught at several colleges and universities.

At the library, Qualters presented a slideshow of several of his paintings and a short summary of each. His paintings often have four core colors – red, blue, yellow and black – and one accent color.

He is also known for his intricate paintings that often include text in the borders.

“I do put words in my work. Some of them are mine, and some of them I steal,” he joked.

Qualters also takes cues from his own life and puts them on canvas – or paper or even wood carvings.

“Much of what I do, and what many artists do, is based on our own experiences,” he said, referring to a painting that featured himself at the age of 19 returning home to Pittsburgh from basic training. “I’m telling stories, which is what my art is about.”

Another painting he showed the people in attendance was of him trudging through the snow near the steel mills in Clairton. He added that he doesn’t like empty space in his paintings, which is why the sky is either filled with snow, rain or leaves.

“I like skies with something in them,” Qualters said. “I like the complexity of the world more than the simplicity of the world.” He also said he likes using the same image in various ways in his art.

Of leaving virtually no space untouched in his works, Qualters said, “More is more.”

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