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Canton Local History Blog

Patty Ryburn, Local History Librarian at the Canton Public Library, will periodically share her research into town history, library history and genealogy.  Feel free to email her any questions you may have at caill@ocln.org!

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Jul 10

Charles Peter DeMetropoulos (1912 - 1976)

Posted on July 10, 2020 at 4:53 PM by Patty Ryburn


Charles Peter Demetropoulos

(1912 - 1976)



The textile mill city of Lowell, MA was the birthplace of artist Charles Peter Demetropoulos and the Whistler House Museum of Art located there--named for well-known American painter and etcher James McNeill Whistler of an earlier era--houses several pieces of Demetropoulos’ work.   Portraits of Charles’ parents, Panagiota and Marina Demetropoulos, were donated by the artist to the permanent collection of the museum and are representative of his work as an accomplished portrait artist comparable to many well-known New England artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  

Born in 1912, this Greek-American watercolorist first attended Lowell’s Bartlett School located in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, “The Acre”.  This section of the city was home to a series of working-class immigrant populations--first a wave of Irish laborers, builders and textile workers and then Greeks and other European ethnic groups escaping poverty and famine in their respective homelands.  Demetropoulos attended grades 1-9 at the Bartlett, where his artistic talent was first noticed and encouraged by his art teacher, Miss Helene Abels.  

Charles subsequently graduated from Lowell High School and with thanks to Miss Abels’ continued advice and support, then attended the Massachusetts College of Art (B.F.A. 1935) and later also benefited from sessions at Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills, MI as well as at Northeastern University and BU.  Mass College of Art became a substantial and enduring force in Demetropoulos’ life as he later taught there for decades and resided in Boston for many years.

There were a variety of schools, programs, guilds and co-operatives with which Demetropoulos was associated over his long and successful career including some where his exhibitions were held.  These include: The Boston Center for Adult Education, the Boston Watercolor Society, art groups in Cohasset, Milton, Cambridge, Lowell, Rockport and Ogunquit, the Guild of Boston Artists, the Copley Society, Artists Equity, Brandeis University and the De Cordova Museum, among others.  DeMetropoulos was an active member and contributing artist to the U.S. Navy Combat Art Program and collection in Washington, DC, headed the Visual Aids Dept. of the U.S. Army and co-chaired the Army Art Program of the office of Military History.  He was commissioned by the federal government to paint a series of activities at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC.  While his original watercolors of cities and seasides can today be found for sale at live or online auctions or through art collection websites, the Naval Historical Foundation website offers affordable prints of his depictions of both the ordinary and extraordinary acts of service by our men and women in uniform.

Demetropoulos’ body of work also includes scenes from the Kolonaki neighborhood of Athens, Greece though he was locally nicknamed “Mr. Copley Square”.  Charles’ many depictions of Boston’s notable landmarks and locales (some of which no longer exist) retain their charm and popularity many decades later and are among his better known works.  The paintings are described as sunny--even the rain-splashed ones--as there seems to be a glimmer of joy evident from their execution to the final result.  

His reported prolific rate of a minimum of one to two paintings a day produced watercolors in a quick, loose technique which ranged from the Public Garden to Park Square to the Old South Church; from the State House to Provincetown to tenements and trolleys.  He painted the Museum of Fine Arts and fish piers along the Massachusetts coast, Trinity Church and the assembly and construction of the John Hancock tower.  In the early 1940’s and 1950’s he exhibited and won recognition from the Jordan Marsh Co. in watercolor class and though he died in early 1976, his work also outlives him in the icons and panels he created that decorate the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of New England (Church of the Evangelismos) located on Parker Street in the Roxbury section of Boston.

With thanks to a generous donor of many years ago, the Canton Public Library is pleased to include in its permanent art collection one of Charles Demetropoulos’ mature watercolors.  This particular work is dear to local artists and library patrons as it depicts an Art Show and Sale on the grounds of the Canton Public Library, c. 1950’s.  Look for it “under the dome”, in the library’s original lobby, and you will glimpse an example of art crafted in the prime years of this local master and perhaps, as well, catch that signature glimmer of joy.




Sources




The Collector’s Gallery, Camden, ME.  1980 written correspondence re: Charles Demetropoulos w/Mr. Edmund Kenealy, Canton Public Library Reference Librarian.


https://en.wikipedia.org


Folder, Director’s Office, Canton Public Library, records pertaining to the library’s permanent art collection, items on/from Charles Peter Demetropoulis referencing his life, career and exhibitions, c. 1975.


www.invaluable.com/artist/demetropoulos-charles-p-isef3r285u/sold-at-auction-prices/


https://www.navyhistory.org


https://www.nps.gov/lowe/learn/historyculture/the-acre.htm


www.terenchin.com/2012/09/15/charles-peter-demetropoulos-1912-1976


https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/charles-demetropoulos-boston-school-20699231


United States Navy Combat Art Gallery.  U.S. Navy Combat Art.  University of Minnesota: Department of Defense, Navy Department, Art Center, 1975.