Charles X. Carlson (1902-1991)
Charles X. Carlson, born in Minnesota in 1902, left school in the seventh grade at 12 years of age to become a baker’s apprentice. He later worked in iron mines, lumber camps, and as a seaman for three years.
Soon his talent for art drew him to the Crane Technical College in Chicago and the Chicago Art Institute, where he spent four years. He also attended the National Academy of Design in New York for three years, in addition to study at the Art Students League in New York City. His instructors included Gorky, Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollack and Mark Rothko. He also spent time in Antwerp and Munich under Master artists.
Carlson returned to teach classes in figure study at the Art Students League. Locally he also taught at the York Art Association, the Jewish Community Center, and the Iris Club. He was also a founding member of the Octorara Art Association.
His experience as an illustrator, cartoonist, mural painter, and teacher captured the attention of other artists and designers. His work included murals at the New Zealand building at the New York World’s Fair; he was the creator of Elsie, the Borden Company’s cow; plus work for Ford and General Motors.
In the political arena, he was a staff artist and cartoonist for On War Times, a publication of the Pentagon and the Bureau of Public Relations. He spent two years painting, lecturing and exhibiting in twenty one American Republics and South American for the U.S. State Department for the Good Neighbor Policy. While in South America he completed more than 750 paintings.
The artist was the author of twenty art illustration books that sold millions of copies. He was commissioned to illustrate Old Lancaster, and completed over 150 paintings of Lancaster buildings. Critics considered this series to be his finest work.
In 1947 the artist moved to Lancaster County and lived in Kirk’s Mill near Quarryville. There he became a historical painter. In his lifetime he is believed to have completed over 15,000 paintings, plus unaccountable drawings for friends, relatives, neighbors, and members of the art world.
Biography: Red Raven Art Company, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Information provided by Edward P. Bentley, researcher of Lansing, Michigan.