Art view by Paulette Thenhaus                                    


The American dream


For many years Fred Rathgeber was an art teacher in Galesburg, while for most of his life, he has been an artist. It’s interesting that Fred dates his work by location; street names and dates lived there ... very novel and informative, too. What’s interesting to me is that he was born in St. Louis, Missouri, seventy-three years ago. I too, was born there. He returned to St. Louis in 1992-2001 but has moved back to town to live and paint. His Bachelor of Arts Degree is from Washington University; he explains that back then one could “mix medias” so he not only explored painting but drawing, and even tried working in clay.

His explorations of various medias show in his painting and fiber works. In “Triptych 1998,” a three- section, meant to be viewed as one, he handles his paint in liquid, dripping layers. His colors are warm and soft. And the organic shapes looks as if they are drawn from human anatomy. His half-size wooden screens are full of sunny yet hazy nature. Water, earth and wind permeate them.

My favorite piece is “American Dream,” maybe because I did a version of my own at about the same time as Fred completed his … but I was in Berkeley, California and he was on ... Grove Street. His subject matter deals with a weight-lifter and a sun-bathing beauty. Very funny, Fred! It is a fiber and wood construction … life-size. Fred did all his own construction and sewing. He even designed a banner for the Galesburg Civic Art Center and original Art-in-the-Park logo in his own signature style (not on display). The figures rest on the floor and a tarp-like, many-sided sun shines behind them.

My version, “Trailing the American Dream,” an old model convertible on Rte. 50 in Utah, was a photograph I took myself while in a passenger seat and translated it into a painting.

Doesn’t everyone have their own version of “The American Dream”? But only some artists get inspired to create it.

Frederick Rathgeber’s Retrospective runs till March 4th at the Galesburg Civic Art Center, 114 E. Main Street in Galesburg, (309)342-7425 or



More art


Q’s Café

319 E. Main Street, Galesburg

Jill Swanson and Janina Glass

Impressionistic Paintings and Creative Portraits.

Through February.


Buchanan Center for the Arts

64 Public Square, Monmouth

Owens/ Thenhaus

Assemblages and Spray-Painted Animals

Reception February 24th, 6-8pm; runs thru March 18th.