When Bill Clark looks at “New Car,” his large Kreitzer watercolor of four children sitting on the hood of a 1948 Chevy, he sees himself and his three siblings. When Carnegie Library Museum volunteer Connie Sheehy looks at the Kreitzer watercolor of “Two Sisters,” she sees her aunts.
And that’s just what David Kreitzer intended when he created his series of paintings, based on photographs of his own family growing up in rural Nebraska in the 1940s and ’50s.
Hometown Heritage is sponsoring an exhibition of seven of Kreitzer’s watercolors currently on display at the Carnegie Library Museum through Oct. 31. The paintings are on loan from Hometown Heritage President Bill Clark and Barb Clark, the Hotel Pattee, the city of Perry and the Fullhart/Carnegie Charitable Trust.
“If you grew up with old family photos, you connect with these,” says Kreitzer, the nationally acclaimed artist who based his series on black-and-white photos taken by his father, who was a Lutheran minister, and his mother. Although photography was an important family feature — Kreitzer’s maternal grandmother had a darkroom — their cameras were “nothing fancy,” says Kreitzer, “just box Brownies.”
“But the more I looked at them, the more I realized that they were really beautiful things,” he recalls. “They needed to be seen. But who was going to see a 2×3 inch photo in somebody’s album?”
Although Kreitzer never returned to family photos as a subject matter after this series, the watercolor technique illustrated in the paintings is one he developed and used throughout his 50-year career.
“I started painting with watercolors the way I painted with oils,” he says, “in thin layers, and then blotting off the excess. The result was more depth and intensity of colors.”
Viewers of all ages are invited to the exhibit free of charge. The Carnegie Library Museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.
Karol Crosbie is the program coordinator for Hometown Heritage.