Villanova, PA – In the past 25 years, artist George H. Rothacker has painted historic Pennsylvania movie theatres; the lively streets of Havana, Cuba; illustrations of the defining social conflicts of our time; and vibrant portraits of some of the nation’s storied writers, among myriad other subjects. His exhibit at the Villanova University Art Gallery, entitled “The Diverse Artistic Universe of George H. Rothacker,” showcases the breadth of the artist’s interests and styles, with 54 acrylic paintings on canvas—including 18 new pieces—that span a quarter century of visual storytelling. The exhibit opens Monday, May 23.
A free public reception to meet the Villanova, PA-based artist will take place on Friday, June 10, from 5 to 7 pm in the Art Gallery located in the Connelly Center on the Villanova campus. Refreshments will be served. Convenient on-campus parking is available. The exhibit continues to July 28.
“The Diverse Artistic Universe of George H. Rothacker” draws together selections from several of the artist’s earlier multi-painting series, and presents three of his newer series in their entirety. His two newest series, Social Conflicts in America and 20th Century American Writers, will be on exhibit for the first time.
Social Conflicts in America, is comprised of six 36” x 24” panels exploring, respectively, gay rights, women’s rights, religious freedom, prohibition, discrimination, and censorship. Says Rothacker: “I made the decision not to take a political stance one way or another on each of the issues, which in some cases was very difficult to do. I just wanted to put the conflicts out there and let the images tell the story.”
20th Century American Writers includes 12 24” x 24” portraits of American literary giants. Each painting features strong graphic elements that move the images beyond straightforward portraiture to reveal the artist’s relationship with the subject. “John Steinbeck” stares with a quiet confidence from within a color-blocked background textured with violet, mauve, and blue. “Eudora Welty” is thoughtful, emerging from a soft effusion of peach, pale green, and robin’s egg blue. “Kurt Vonnegut” is fanciful, his mop of multicolored hair insinuating movement and an electric imagination.
George Rothacker was still a boy when his family relocated to Delaware County from Port Allegheny in western Pennsylvania. Always drawn to art, he drew and painted throughout his childhood. After high school in Upper Darby, he was encouraged to pursue a “practical” field in college, and enrolled in the mechanical engineering technology program at Temple University. Rothacker landed a job as a mechanical designer and draftsman, but continued to feel a pull toward a more creative career. He moved through technical illustration and into advertising, working his way up to Creative Director at a Philadelphia firm. In 1978, Rothacker struck out on his own, forming Rothacker Advertising and Design. He has been creating logos, websites, branding, and advertising campaigns for corporate and nonprofit clients ever since.
When asked about finding balance between his painting life and his business life, Rothacker stresses that the two outlets for his creativity are symbiotic. “There’s an integration,” he says. “Art is art. Design is design. Storytelling is part of everything I do.”
The Villanova University Art Gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. -11 p.m. For extended and weekend hours, and other information, contact the Art Gallery at (610) 519-4612. More information is available on the Gallery's Website.