Bo Bartlett: American Artist

Bo Bartlett: American Artist opens January 27

Orlando, FL — December 22, 2016

The Mennello Museum of American Art is pleased to announce the solo exhibition BO BARTLETT: AMERICAN ARTIST.  The exhibition, which runs from January 27 through May 7, presents large-scale oil paintings that are figurative, psychologically imbued, beautifully rendered, and wonderfully sublime by one of the most significant American Realist painters of his generation.

Bo Bartlett is widely renowned for his multi-layered complex image making rooted in narrative, story telling, art history, literature, poetry, and every day life. Bartlett works in a long-established tradition in American painting that stretches from Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer to Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth.  Like these artists, Bartlett looks at America’s land and people to depict the beauty he finds in everyday life. His paintings celebrate the underlying epic nature of the commonplace and the personal significance of the extraordinary. Of Bartlett’s work, Andrew Wyeth wrote, “Bo Bartlett is very American.  He is fresh, he’s gifted, and he’s what we need in this country.  Bo is one of the very few I feel this strongly about.”

Additionally with references to other American giants George Caleb Bingham, Robert Henri, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Cole, and Norman Rockwell, Bartlett likewise creates an image of time, place and individuality.  And to add to this lineage, Bartlett’s work stunningly communicates a command of space, grace in gesture, and power in grandeur akin to European painters of history Goya, Delacroix, and Gericault.  Bartlett hones figurative expression beyond history painting and beyond imitation and exactitude to place it in a highly conceptual endurance field; to play out, witness, and remember. His protagonists are of this world, observed in time—lone, isolated, afraid, confident, determined, longing—and rendered larger than life, in a manifestly American geography, yet are distilled in a quiet anticipation.

Bartlett was educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where realist principles must be grasped before modernist ventures are encouraged. He pushes the boundaries of the realist tradition with his multilayered imagery―accessible and complex at once. Life, death, transformation, memory, and confrontation coexist easily in his world. Family and friends are the cast of characters who appear in his otherworldly narrative works. Tom Butler, museum director and Columbus, Georgia native states: “Although the scenes are set around Bartlett’s childhood home in Georgia, his island summer home in Maine, his home in Pennsylvania or the surroundings of his studio and residence in Washington State, they represent a deeper, mythical concept of the archetypal, universal home.” His work is in the collections of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Seattle Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Columbus Museum of Art, among others.  Bartlett currently lives and paints on an island off the coast of Maine in the summer and in his hometown of Columbus, Georgia in the winter.

Shannon Fitzgerald, Executive Director, states, “I am delighted to share Bo Bartlett’s compelling work with our community, his work is provocative and timely in ways that brilliantly reveal in direct and non-linear narratives; what is not immediate- fascinates and lingers in the imagination.  We are presenting work that spans two decades and considers notions of family, the American South, the mighty ocean, time, life, and death. Through landscape and portraiture, innovation and scale, Bartlett’s distinct realism is grand, epic, and meaningful as we contemplate our own narratives and place within our vast world.  Bartlett’s characters convey a range of emotions, fortitude, resolve, and determination that prompt empathy whether physical, psychological, or instinctively.”  She continues “There is something in his paintings for everyone, they awe as objects, in subject matter and with a humanity that resonates.”

BO BARTLETT: AMERICAN ARTIST is organized by The Mennello Museum of American Art and curated by Shannon Fitzgerald, Executive Director, The Mennello Museum of American Art and Public Art, City of Orlando.  It is organized concurrently with The Orlando Museum of Art’s presentation of the exhibition The Wyeth’s and American Artists in Maine: Selections from the Farnsworth Art Museum.  This occasion provides the opportunity to follow a distinctive American art history, an artistic legacy and trajectory that continues, and one that is so compelling in Bartlett’s astonishing oeuvre.  This connective examination yields the rare opportunity to position a contemporary artists’ work in the context of his predecessors and peers working in the long-standing tradition of American realism.  Bo Bartlett keeps realism relevant and narrative enthralling in contemporary art discourse.

Please join Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in celebration of the opening of BO BARTLETT: AMERICAN ARTIST.

The City of Orlando, Friends of the Mennello Museum of American Art, The Mennello Museum Board of Trustees together with Executive Director, Shannon Fitzgerald, invite you for an evening celebrating the work of one of the most significant American Realist painters working today.

Preview & Opening Reception
Friday, January 27, 2017

Member-only Preview
5:30 – 6:30 pm

Public Opening Reception
Free for members | $5 for Visitors
6:30 – 8:30 pm

Catering by Fleming’s Steakhouse

Bo Bartlett: Artist Talk & Reception
Saturday, January 28

11 am – 1 pm
Join us for an artist talk and gallery tour with Bo Bartlett. Enjoy this exclusive opportunity with Bo and immerse yourself in his larger-than-life paintings.


About the Museum

The Mennello Museum of American Art, established in November 1998, is owned and operated by the City of Orlando. This intimate cultural gem located in Loch Haven Cultural Park, is just minutes from downtown Orlando, and is housed in what was once the private home of Howard Phillips, son of local philanthropist Dr. P. Phillips. Among The Mennello Museum’s many treasures is the permanent collection of paintings by self-taught artist Earl Cunningham (1893-1977), which was generously donated from the collection of Michael A. Mennello and Marilyn Logsdon Mennello.

The Mennello Museum displays the largest permanent collection of Earl Cunningham paintings in existence, in addition to rotating exhibitions celebrating traditional and contemporary American artists throughout the year. The Mennello Museum is located at 900 E. Princeton Street, Orlando, FL. 32803. · ·





Bo Bartlett, The American, 2016, 82 x 100 inches, oil on linen. Courtesy The Mennello Museum of American Art.

Bo Bartlett, Halloween, 2016, oil on linen, 82 x 100 inches.  Courtesy Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe, New York.

Bo Bartlett, Lifeboat, 1998, oil on linen, 80 x 100 inches. Collection of Stacy and Jay Underwood.

Bo Bartlett, School of Charm, 2010, oil on linen, 86 x 100 inches.  Collection of Stacy and Jay Underwood.


These exhibitions and The Mennello Museum of American Art are generously supported by the City of Orlando and Friends of The Mennello Museum of American Art. Additional funding is provided by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program and United Arts of Central Florida.


For more information, please contact:
Francesca Ascione
Marketing & Graphic Design Coordinator 
The Mennello Museum of American Art and Public Art, City of Orlando