Fine Art & Contemporary American Craft

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The Art of Paul D. Ortlip

Featured In May

A modest retrospective of the work of Paul D. Ortlip (1926- 2008), an American Impressionist, is featured at Vermont Artisan Designs for the month of May. He would have been 90 this month.

Ortlip was the youngest of the seven offspring of renowned artists H. Willard Ortlip and Aimee Eschner Ortlip. He found art to be his life's calling. Growing up with a paintbrush in hand, he trained with his parents in their fabled studio high above the Hudson River and Edgewater, on the cliffs of Fort Lee, New Jersey. He eventually raised his family of five daughters there.

Paul served in the U.S. Army in Italy and Korea, and was a veteran of World War II. His military service was the beginning of many trips around the world, always with sketchbook in hand. Following his return to civilian life, he honed his painting and drawing skills in New York at the Art Students League and in Paris at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière.

Ortlip was on assignment for the U.S. Navy, recording his experiences on-site during the war in Viet Nam. He was a participating artist for NASA on the recovery ships for Gemini 5, as well as the Apollo 12 and Apollo 17 lunar missions.

As a portrait artist, he painted dozens of elected officials throughout northern New Jersey and beyond, including Presidents George H.W. Bush and John F. Kennedy. He served as artist-in-residence at Fairleigh Dickinson University for fourteen years. His work hangs in a vast number of private collections, as well as the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, the United States Naval Historical Center, the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library, and the Montclair Art Museum.

Paul maintained his artistic ties to his Hudson River heritage. He was friends with many of the shad fishermen who worked along the river bank in Edgewater, and filled sketchbooks with drawings and watercolors to complement the many oil paintings of the fishermen at work. The vast perspective of water, sky and cityscape was a constant fascination for him. From his studio overlooking the river and the twinkling lights of New York City, Paul painted the magnificent views throughout the changing seasons and the evolving skyline.

A volume of his life and work, Paul Ortlip: His Heritage and his Art, by M. Stephen Doherty, editor of American Artist magazine, was published in 1982. Mr. Doherty wrote, "The fascinating accounts of his life and achievements will inspire others who want to take up the challenging career of being an artist...."

Paul and his daughter Michele founded Four Generations Art on the island of Martha's Vineyard, where they maintained a gallery for several years and which served as Paul's artistic home for the last few years of his life and career. Michele, and her sister Carol, who lives in Brattleboro, helped coordinate this exhibit.