AXOM Gallery and Exhibition Space, 176 Anderson Ave., Rochester, is exhibiting “The Visionary Works of Cathal Brendan O’Toole” through Sept. 1.
O’Toole was a painter, printmaker and teacher born on Sept. 2, 1904 in Dublin. Trained as a sign painter, O’Toole decided to study fine art at Glasgow School of Art.
He moved to New York in 1925, where he became a fairly successful commercial artist before losing everything in the 1929 stock market crash.
O’Toole decided to return to his study of art, and for the next six years he studied at The Art Students League of New York and National Academy of Design School under Kroll, Neilson, Olinsky and Covey. He received two Tiffany Foundation fellowships, as well as a $1,500 Pulitzer Award in 1934 that he used to help fund three years in the British Isles, France and Switzerland. While in Paris, O’Toole studied painting with Andre Lhote and printmaking at Atelier 17 with Stanley William Hayter.
O’Toole returned to the U.S. in 1938, and started a teaching career. He taught drawing and painting at Fitch Junior College in 1938-41, lectured on drawing at Columbia University in 1948-49 and taught art and became chairman of art department at Wilkes College in Pennsylvania in 1950-59.
He later moved to Rochester, where he worked as an art director in TV until his retirement in 1971.
O’Toole was a member of the Salmagundi Club in New York City and the Society of American Etchers. He became an associate of the National Academy of Design in 1939, and was elected a full Academician in 1944. He received an Arts and Letters Award in art in 1941 from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. O’Toole was a founding member of the Rockland Foundation in Nyack. His work is represented in the collections of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art and the National Academy Museum.
His works are in many private collections, and were exhibited in the U.S. and abroad, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Princeton University Museum and the National Academy of Design, The Art institute of Chicago and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C.
While much of O’Toole’s work ranges from a considerable volume of work that identifies with the early expressionists and abstract expressionists, he also produced a number of figurative works and landscapes that were sympathetic to both 20th-century realism and regionalism. He actively painted into the 1980s.
O’Toole died on April 16, 1991, in Rochester. His wife, Delores, currently lives in nursing home care. Her family decided to liquidate the artwork in O’Toole’s estate to cover her expenses. This exhibit features a cross-section of works from O’Toole’s career, with an emphasis on his abstract expressionist works.
AXOM Gallery is open from noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and by appointment. Visit axomgallery.com for information.