An Era Of Artistry
The visionary works of M. Charles Rhinehart are collected nationally and internationally and are shown in galleries throughout the United States. Rhinehart’s work is immediately recognizable.
Few artists can be so quickly identified. My husband and I have been mesmerized by his work since our early days of marriage in the 1970’s. I was intrigued by the fact that he was born in Cantwell MO, the area that held the origins of my mother’s family. Our first Rhinehart purchases were two graphite drawings that we obtained from a regional art fair. Close to the same time, we also bought an ink and watercolor wash created by Lavetta Rhinehart. We later learned that she was in Charles’s classes and was developing a distinctive style that is still evident in her work.
Charles and Lavetta were married on 7/7/77. Though strikingly different, their art shares an ethereal quality. I have always felt that Charles’s skill and technique would elevate him to become one of Missouri’s most renowned artists. Together, they are formidable.
The philosophy behind Charles’s work is of a spiritual nature and is responded to by people of all backgrounds in religion, science, and philosophy. His works have an uncommon universal appeal that touches some common basic need within all people to feel that there is something beyond the known. The paintings of M. Charles Rhinehart seem to give credence to this as fact which would be otherwise invisible.
Lavetta Rhinehart feels that her art has a mysterious nature which allows the viewer to participate in the creative process. She strives to allow the painting to continue to evolve until she decides that is a finished piece. She wants her art to be beautiful even when it is indicative of tragedy in its interpretation. Her work often focuses on women and has a distinctly exquisite quality.
After leaving Missouri to move West, their work was exhibited in numerous well-known galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Denver and Boulder, Colorado; Jackson, Wyoming; La Jolla, California; and Scottsdale, Arizona. Charles was an artist in residence for the Missouri Council on the Arts. He has hundreds of students who attended classes that he taught throughout the region during the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Charles’s aunt was an artist and his uncle George was a sign painter. Young Charles also spent time in the sign painting industry. He began at an early age and dropped out of school to work full-time. He ultimately went back to school and graduated from high school at twenty-one years of age! He eagerly traveled to art fairs and participated in art-related activities around the entire region. His early mentor Matt Ziegler, a well-known Ste. Genevieve artist took him to museums and helped him broaden his experience.
While I was operating the Kelsen Gallery in Cape Girardeau in the 1990’s, people would often inquire where the Rhineharts were living and exhibiting. Before the possibility of getting online to research their whereabouts, it was difficult to follow their careers. One of my dealers came across three of Charles’s paintings in the late 1990’s, and I offered them for purchase in my gallery. They were displayed in the front window and customers knew from a distance that they were his. The paintings sold almost immediately.
In the early 2000’s, the Rhinehart’s opened a gallery in Pierce City, MO, where they continued to show their works until they decided to ”come home” to Ste. Genevieve, MO. In 2015, they opened The Rhinehart & Rhinehart’s Gallery located at 302 Market Street, Ste. Genevieve, MO, where they have a vast amount of work on display. We are happy to welcome them back into our region, and we are honored to share their history.
A little over two years ago, we visited Charles and Lavetta in Ste. Genevieve and told them of our desire to tell their story at Heritage Hall. By the time we revisited them in 2018, we had a plan to share. The items began to be compiled, and the excitement grew. They shared massive amounts of memorabilia with us, and the story began to unfold. The materials even included their forty-four-year-old wedding clothing! Their generous sharing of their past allowed us to piece together their many years of artistry. Lavetta worked side by side with me to create the resulting exhibit at Heritage Hall. This generous sharing of their personal history gives us the opportunity to allow a glimpse into the world of two incredibly talented artists. What an opportunity it is to share their story with the ages. It has been a magical experience.
Our growing friendship has recently resulted in the most exciting occurrence of all. We have been chosen to be the location of their ongoing archive. The Kellerman Foundation will be allowed to keep the Rhinehart materials at Heritage Hall for future generations to use for historical research. The Kellerman Foundation is deeply honored and proud.
If you have not yet visited, drop in at 102 North Main St., Cape Girardeau, to view M. Charles Rhinehart’s first artistic endeavor from 1949, and trace his techniques through eight decades to his most recent masterpiece in 2018.