Sterling Strauser (1907-1995). Dorothy and Jasper, Crystal Street Station, 1970. Oil on masonite panel, 11.5 x 22.25 inches. Signed and dated lower right. Very good condition with no damage or conservation. Unframed. Framing services available.
Image depicts the artist's wife, Dorothy Strauser, walking the beloved family cat, Jasper. In the background can be seen the East Stroudsburg Pa Train Depot on Crystal Street.
Provenance: Estate of the artist's Granddaughter, Princeton NJ.
Often called a romantic expressionist and American intimist, self-taught Pennsylvania artist Sterling Strauser (1907-1995) completed his first oil painting in 1922- inspired by frequent visits to the collection of American folk art at the Everhardt Museum in Scranton. Throughout the following seven decades of his career, Strauser’s artistic pursuit was based on his own intuition and determination to paint what he saw, rather than adhering to the conventional pictorial structures prescribed by prevailing styles at the time. Strauser rejected pretension, believing instead that art should work from life as it was lived. His oeuvre therefore serves as an extremely personal record of his observations and experiences from his lifetime painting in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
Beginning early in his career, Strauser took his inspiration from American regionalists and traditional realists in the Ashcan style, as well as European movements such as Fauvism and Cubism, yet he eventually developed his own fluid realism based on subject matter beloved and familiar to him- family and friends, local landscapes and floral still lifes.
Known for his distorted pictorial space, exaggerated with vivid color, heavy impasto and an intensity of emotion, Strauser was adept at altering and rearranging the details and aspects of any given form to create a new kind of beauty.
"All a painting has to do, or a piece of sculpture, or whatever, is to entertain the critical eye. You have to have a fresh seeing eye… to look at things like a child, as if looking at the world for the first time (seeing) something that somebody else doesn’t see, something you want to identify with… Painting is largely a matter of evaluation. (It) doesn’t matter how much it looks like the subject matter. It just depends on how interesting you have made it so that it pleases the critical eye."
STERLING STRAUSER, STERLING STRAUSER: A MODERNIST REVISTED, P. 23
Sterling exhibited his work extensively throughout the country and drew the attention of many notable fellow artists including Milton Avery, Louise Nevelson, David Burliuk, Chaim Gross and Red Grooms. Sterling was also extremely influential within the arts community of Pennsylvania through his discovery and promotion of self-taught American Folk artists such as Justin McCarthy, Jack Savitsky, Joseph Gatto and Charles Dieter.
Strauser and his wife Dorothy dedicated most of their lives to collecting and championing these folk artists, later referred to as the “Strauser Circle.”
Said the artist's grandaughter: “While I think every child is born with an aesthetic, few have grandparents who cultivate it as a matter of course. I was lucky; mine always did. In fact, every light switch plate, door and faucet knob – even the Analomink house skeleton key – were covered with paint-smudged fingerprints. I most vividly recall aqua smeared with swirls of yellow ochre.
In fact it wasn’t something I was consciously aware of, even in my late teens when I left for Temple University with an extra trunk filled with the art that hung in my bedroom for nearly two decades. I had no idea that while I was leaving home, I was taking the 'Strauser Circle' with me.”
Sterling Strauser was born in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. He began painting in 1926 in a near impressionist style that later evolved into a powerful Klee-like modernism. Still later his style softened into what one collector of his work termed "romantic American expressionism." He was also an illustrator for Mademoiselle magazine and Unicorn-A Magazine of Poetry.
Fellow artist, Russian David Burliuk, a member of the Blaue Reiter group in Munich, said of Strauser: "It is amazing to find a self-taught artist in a quaint little provincial village painting like the masters in the great art centers of the world."
With his wife, Dorothy, he was a collector and promoter of folk art, and for many years was a teacher, office manager, and supervisor of the boiler works at the Pocono, Pennsylvania public schools. Many of his sketching trips were into the Pocono Mountains. In 1996, a retrospective show was held at the Lyzon Gallery in Nashville, Tennessee. The most recent exhibition of his work, "A Modernist Revisited," was held at the Reading Public Museum in Pennsylvania from November 27, 1999 through Feb. 27, 2000.
with George Keller
Bloomsburg State College, BA
Folk Art Society of America
Delaware River Gap Arts Association (annually awards the Sterling
Cheekwood Museum, Nashville, Tennessee
Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science and Art, Scranton,
Lehigh University Art Galleries, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
American Museum in Britain, Bath, England
Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Cigna Museum, Philadelphia
East Stroudsburg University College of Art
Maier Museum of Art, Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Lynchburg, Virginia
The White House, Washington, DC
Many corporate collections
Salons of America, 1934
Art USA, New York City, 1958
Everhart Museum, 1958 (award)
Municipal Art Gallery, Davenport, Iowa, 1959
Lehigh University, 1961
William Penn Museum, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1973
Worthington Avenue Gallery
Zimbalist Gallery, New York City, 1939
Shawnee-on Delaware, Pennsylvania, 1990s
Lyzon Gallery, Nashville, TN, 1996 (retrospective)
"A Modernist Revisited," Reading Public Museum, Pennsylvania,
Falk, Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975
Lyzon Gallery, Nashville, Tennessee
Reading Public Museum, Sterling Strauser, A Modernist Revisited
Dunbier (ed.), The Artists Bluebook: 34,000 North American Artists to March 2005
Bowker, Who's Who in American Art 1993-94, 20th Edition
Jaques Cattell Press, Who's Who in American Art 1986
Jaques Cattell Press, Who's Who in American Art 12th Edition