Carlow University Art Gallery Exhibits Work of Robert Qualters and John Kane

Carlow University Art Gallery opens exhibit of works by internationally known local artists Robert Qualters and John Kane.

Marketing and Communications For Immediate Release
Drew Wilson, Director, Media Relations September 05, 2017
(412) 578-2095 (phone)
(412) 260-6807 (cell)
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Hillman Family Loans Rarely Seen Kane Paintings from their Collection

Robert Qualters Donates Two Paintings to Carlow University

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Carlow University Art Gallery, a gallery devoted to exhibiting the artwork of professional local and regional artists, presents KANE/QUALTERS: MY PITTSBURGH, an exhibition which explores the Pittsburgh scenes of two iconic local artists, John Kane and Robert Qualters, for its Fall 2017 Exhibition, which will be exhibited from Tuesday, September 5 until Friday, November 10, 2017. This is the first exhibit to explore the works of these artists side-by-side and includes several works from private collections.

“Bob Qualters has recently donated two very important works to Carlow,” said Sylvia Rhor, PhD, professor of art history and the director of the Carlow University Art Gallery. “This generous gift is the foundation of this exhibition., and it also gives us the opportunity to highlight other works in the University’s art collection”  [Artist’s biographies are included at the end of this release.]

Carlow already owns one of Kane’s works – a gift from the late Henry and Elsie Hillman – and the Hillman family has loaned Carlow three additional Kane paintings for this  exhibit.

“They have not been seen in public recently and we are delighted to show these important works,” said Rhor.  “We thank the Hillman family for loaning these paintings to Carlow for this exhibit.”

Qualters, who was born the year that John Kane died, has been a lifelong admirer of Kane’s work.

“My homage to this work in For John Kane (1982) {one of the works donated to Carlow’s art collection) is also an homage to his steadfast practice of using the place that is our shared environment, Pittsburgh and local areas, as the subjects of his art,” said Qualters about Kane’s work.  “It inspired me to do the same.  The opportunity to exhibit my paintings with John Kane’s is a great honor.”

The opening reception will be Thursday, September 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.  Light refreshments will be served.  An artist talk with Robert Qualters will take place on Tuesday, September 19, beginning at 4 p.m.

In addition, there will be a schedule of public programs in connection with this exhibition, including:

  • Qualters on Kane: A Gallery talk at The Carnegie Museum of Art, Thursday, September 28 at 6:30 p.m.;
  • A Story/PoetrySlam: Kennywood Memories (to be announced for late October); 
  • #MyPittsburgh: An Instagram Takeover, highlighting diverse experiences of Pittsburgh;
  • Student docent tours and “Flash” focus tours of specific paintings in the show

All of these events and more will be announced on the gallery’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.  For more information or to schedule a private tour, please email For media questions, please contact Dr. Sylvia Rhor,

### Editor’s Note:  KANE/QUALTERS: MY PITTSBURGH will host a private preview reception on Wednesday, September 14 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. The news media is welcome to attend the private reception.  Please call Drew Wilson on his cell phone (412) 260-6807 or email Sylvia Rhor at to indicate your attendance and to arrange for convenient, free parking.

Artist’s Biographies

John Kane (1860-1934

In 1927, John Kane achieved overnight success when his Scene from the Scottish Highlands (Carnegie Museum of Art, c. 1927) was admitted to the prestigious Carnegie International exhibition.  Jurors and critics celebrated Kane’s naïve style, and the artist was heralded as a “genius” in the press.

Having spent most of his life as a manual laborer and with no formal training in art, Kane was an unlikely star of the modern art world.  Born in Scotland, John Kane began working in the shale mines at age 9, around the time his father died.  After emigrating to the United States at age 19, Kane worked as a gandy dancer on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, a coal miner in Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and southwestern Pennsylvania, as a steel worker in local mills.  After losing his left leg in a railroad accident, Kane turned to art, painting the sides of railroad cars in McKees Rocks.  Eventually, Kane focused his attention on painting Pittsburgh scenes, bridges and hills of the Mon Valley, Kennywood, and even a Pieta set against the backdrop of the Cathedral of Learning and St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oakland.

Kane’s acceptance into the 1927 Carnegie International was a breakthrough for this self-taught artist and it catapulted him to fame.  By the time of his death in 1934, Kane had exhibited at venues such as The Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Museum of Modern Art, where he was the focus of a one-man show in 1931.  The Carnegie Museum of Art houses the largest collection of Kane’s works in the United States.  The painting in this exhibition are excellent examples of Kane’s best-known subjects and trademark style.

Robert Qualters (B. 1934)

Robert Qualters is an American painter, installation artist, and printmaker based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His work encompasses traditional painting, as well as murals, and collaborations with other Pittsburgh-based artists across several disciplines. He is associated with the Bay Area Figurative Movement of Representational Painting.

A 1985 Pittsburgh Center for the Arts Artist of the Year and a past president of Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, Qualters has exhibited in Pennsylvania, New York, California, Maine, and West Virginia. In Pittsburgh, he has had more than 30 solo-artist shows at Borelli Edwards, Concept Art Gallery, Carson Street Gallery, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and many other galleries and museums. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Carnegie Museum of Art; the Oakland California Museum of Art; and the Westmoreland County Museum of Art in Greensburg, Pennsylvania; as well as in the main offices of PPG Industries, Alcoa, Hillman Company, the Pittsburgh Foundation, The Heinz Endowments; and many other corporations, schools, government bureaus, and private collections throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Qualters has completed more than two-dozen public murals and site-specific installations. Alongside commissions from The Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh, The Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Arts Festival, Oxford Development Company and others, he has also created more than a dozen murals with Pittsburgh high school students.

Qualters holds a BFA. from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, CA and a MFA. from Syracuse University. He has taught painting at the State University of New York, Oswego, as well as the University of Pittsburgh, Carlow College, Slippery Rock State University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, West Virginia University, and Carnegie Mellon University. He has also been an Artist-in-Residence at the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts.

In 2017, Mr. Qualters generously donated two paintings to Carlow University: For John Kane and Big Self Portrait, both included in this exhibition. Carlow University would like to extend a special thanks to Robert Qualters for his generous gift to the university.

About Carlow University

Carlow is a private, co-educational, Catholic university located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s “Eds, Meds, and Tech” district. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Carlow’s graduates, curricula, and partnerships reflect its strong commitment to social justice; ethical, forward-thinking and responsible leadership; and service to the community that has a meaningful impact. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in three colleges: Health and Wellness, Leadership and Social Change, and Learning and Innovation. Carlow graduates are in demand for their professional expertise, in fields ranging from nursing, the sciences, and perfusion technology to counseling, education, and forensic accounting; their entrepreneurial spirit and creative mindset; and their ability to manage change.  Carlow’s 13 athletic teams are known as the Celtics, a reflection of the university’s Irish heritage and roots.

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