|Acquisition Number: 2020.4
Medium: Graphite, acrylic, and colored pencil on acid-free board
Size: 32 x 40 in.
Credit: Gift of the artist
The industrial content of Thomas Roese’s (b. 1948) pieces are heavily inspired by his upbringing in Old Brooklyn, a neighborhood of Cleveland, found on the west ridge overlooking the Cuyahoga Valley and the industrial flats. With Roese’s father being a factory worker, he was exposed to the lifestyle of the working class. His was a childhood filled with blue collar workers, steel mills, chemical plants, smoke, noise, with endless time spent drawing houses in his neighborhood, and creating a link between the grittiness of his graphite pencil with the grit of the industrial scene. His work that derives from these experiences assisted him in creating a sentimental and informative connection between his pieces and his father, which still fuels his motivation to create art today.
Roese studied at Cleveland State University, University of Northern Colorado and he obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Cleveland Institute of Art, majoring in Graphic Design in 1971. After graduating, he became an art educator, instructing at the Cleveland Institute of Art for the Continuing Education Department, and in the Parma City School District since 1973. He was recognized as an outstanding classroom art teacher because of his passion for giving students a creative outlet of expression, and was invited to participate in the AICA New York Summer Studio Program in 1991.
While he taught, Roese’s paintings appeared in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s May Show every year from 1979-1989, as well as exhibited at the Butler Institute of American Art, Mansfield Fine Arts Center, Sandusky Cultural Arts Center, Southwest Arts Council, the Great Northern Corporate Center and more. In 2000, he had solo shows at the Audrey and Harvey Feinberg Gallery in Cleveland Heights, Ohio and at the Ohio Arts League Gallery in Columbus, Ohio. In 2001, he showed with Bonnie Dolin at the Cleveland Playhouse Art Gallery.
In 2002, after retiring from teaching, Roese found himself working with a much greater intensity. This is when his work became more focused and mature. In Roese’s own words, his work is about a “…narrative as a human connection to an industrial site. An urban setting which might include residential architecture. My drawings are stories about people and the implied relationships between themselves and to their environment.” He often refers to creating art as a symphony of his materials as he composes the complex structural elements of architecture with his pencil. “The deserted factory, the smoke from a mill, the singular figure walking along a street. All these reference the present, the past, prosperity, employment, or despair. Descriptive through naturalistic imagery with an inner abstracted structure, the stage is set with pattern, color, texture, and lighting.” He attended a residency/fellowship at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in the Republic of Ireland in 2010, where he started to explore with color in his drawings and further transformed his body of work. His work can currently be found in the Cleveland Museum of Art, the American Embassy in Stockholm, and numerous corporate art collections.