carl tolpo & lily tolpo
Carl Tolpo (1901-1976,) an American Painter/Sculptor , established studios in Illinois and remained in the state for his entire career. As a painter, his works comprise fine oil portraiture including llinois State portraits and landscape oil paintings inspired by the western USA, mostly the Yellowstone (National Park) region of Wyoming. As a sculptor, his Abraham Lincoln heroic head sculpture stands among the 5 best of Lincolniana. Numerous official monuments and public pieces include those listed in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery Catalog of American Portraits. Baseball was a favorite interest, as Hall Of Fame painter, 25 larger than life oil portraits for fans now in gallery collection, L. A. Sports Museum (video end clip). Family members as art subjects were favorites as well.
Carl Tolpo made trips west and by 1931 became interested in painting extensively on location in the Yellowstone (Park) region of Wyoming - particularly the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. In 1941, he married a dedicated artist, Lily Tolpo and soon their trips west became family painting/camping adventures. Their three children enjoyed over 20 summers in Wyoming, and all became professional artists. By 1953, his favorite vantage point of the canyon also became known in the park as "Tolpo Point." His final trip to "Tolpo Point" was in 1971 to complete his colossal work of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon (8 ft x 15 ft), done in sections, oil on panels, entirely on location.
Carl Tolpo, a patriotic man, admired exemplary virtues of Abraham Lincoln and devoted much of his career to creating Lincoln likenesses. He was friend to Gutzan Borglum, sculptor of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota - some of Borglum's tools were passed on to Carl Tolpo. His research and studies of Lincoln for approximately twenty years resulted in several sculptures with a final heroic 42” head completed in the 1950’s carved in plaster. The Lincoln statues were created and completed in Illinois studios. Speeches by, Carl Tolpo, were given at Ford's Theatre Lincoln Monument unveiling, Washington, D.C., Illinois State Senate and Clubs. He believed that art must have a morality to it, “a wholesome, constructive purpose."
Some goals he stated were:
“…To help preserve the best in art…With Lincoln’s integrity, courage, sense of humor and physical strength, Lincoln is a great subject and a great challenge for the artist...We both had the advantage of being born in poverty; he rose to the heights and I hope I can do the same...Great art and great substance are inseparable…We cannot all fly to the moon. But we can all strive to create, and enjoy the beautiful." The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library include Carl Tolpo collection art and archives.
Carl Tolpo was born in 1901 and grew tall and rugged. He was the eldest of a large Finnish/Swedish American family and was raised on a farm in Ludington, Michigan. While working in the fields at a young age, he unearthed a windswept matchbook cover depicting a Raphael painting. He claimed this chance find inexplicably caught his fancy and inspired him to draw. He never knew his distinguished Finnish heritage in the Arts. The author of the Finland national epic poem, "Kalevala", and master builders of the world's largest wooden church (Kerimaki, Finland) hailed from the Tolpo clan.
The Tolpo clan and art heritage traces back to 1300's, Finland:
The world's largest Christian wooden church, Kerimaki Church, although designed by Anders Granstedt, was built in the 1800's by the community of Kerimaki under the direction of master church-builder, Axel Magnus Tolpo. His grave was the first in the now consecrated cemetary and reads: "Master Builder Axel Magnus Tolpo Born 1782 Died 1845." Upon his sudden death his son, Theodor Johan Tolpo, took over the project and it was completed in just three years in 1847. Total church capacity seats 5000 people, the original idea was to gather all the people for worship at one time.
"The Kalevala" is a classic epic from indigenous people of Finland and was compiled from their folk songs by Elias Lonnrot of the Tolpo clan. It was published in its final form in 1849. Since then it has been translated into 53 languages, 49 published. "The Kalevala" has inspired music pieces we enjoy today like the "Tapiola" by Finnish composer, Jean Sebelius. Celebration of Elias Lonnrot 200th Birthday was in 2002.
Lily Tolpo (1917-2015,) an American Painter/ Sculptor/ Designer, worked from Illinois studios for over six decades. As a sculptor her works grace private and public sites including the Freeport, IL Lincoln and Douglas in Debate monument dedicated in 1992 and a sculpture series of Great Americans. As a painter, her fine oil portraiture include an art form she introduced in 1964, Biographical Paintings, a layered depiction of the subject with overlay illustrations of the subject’s history. Her self portrait Biographical Painting seen here demonstrates the art form. Numerous public art works include those listed in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery Catalog of American Portraits.
Lily married sculptor/ painter Carl Tolpo in 1941, settled in Illinois and by 1952 she was mother of three. At their home and Tolpo Studios, Abraham Lincoln was part of the Tolpo family in art form, as the American Dream exemplar and often quoted as guiding words of wisdom. She assisted her husband in developing his celebrated sculpture of President Abraham Lincoln. After his unexpected death in 1976, she did the 1980’s casts and casting supervision of his Lincoln sculptures. Since 1990, her involvement with the Abraham Lincoln Center of Chicago, Illinois, produced 52 Leadership Award Biographical Paintings of Chicago historical figures and she cast many of their Abraham Lincoln humanitarian sculpture awards. In her Great American Sculpture Series, she included First Ladies as tribute to strong women everywhere, statues include Mary Todd Lincoln and the Julia Dent Grant monument for First Ladies Park at Grant home historical site, 2006 completion. As Bicentennial Laureate, Lily Tolpo received the 2009 Lincoln Academy of Illinois Order of Lincoln Award recognizing her life time achievement and Lincoln art by Tolpo. Together with the Freeport Illinois Noon Rotary Club Foundation and Rotary International a "Lincoln Reading" sculpture was made for their ongoing Literacy and the Arts project, dedicated in 2011. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library include Lily Tolpo collection, art and archives.
Lily Tolpo was eldest of five children in a Chinese/Polish American family and her mother encouraged playing the violin at an early age. She eventually professionally performed as Vaudeville musician in, 1935-39. Traveling Vaudeville multi-state and later west particularly to Yellowstone National Park with her children and husband inspired art as well. She made small paintings of campsite vignettes and kept a diary. Lily Tolpo’s children became professional artists and play musical instruments. Many of the 20 or more summer painting/camping trips packed viiolin, guitar and other music making instruments. Music remains for Lily Tolpo a source of artistic inspiration, specifically for abstract painting and sculpture.
The concept of Tri Quad Interdependence sculpture /fountain, was channeled from an inspirational vision in 1968. Symbolically, it depicts the balancing act of the elements that exist in the lives of Humankind. The TQI is an invitation to all to probe the depths of its symbolism as a tool to personally create a meaningful path toward ones destiny. TQI presentations and lectures about the truths it embraces have been given to diverse groups of people by painter/sculptress, Lily Tolpo. Various educational and philanthropic groups include: Rotary, Kiwanis, Boy and Girl Scouts of America, BZQ and local Women’s Club and Historical Society. Government officials and political groups expressed positive enthusiasm after learning of TQI and high praises of compatibility came from religious communities including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Unitarian. Words from the artist: "Beauty and Ugliness are the same unless recognized... My life as an artist is devoted to creating works that express the beautiful truths that I have discovered, learned, and experienced. When others gain satisfying pleasure, expanded perception, or inspired purpose from viewing my works, I will have reached my artistic goals.” -Lily Tolpo
Ti Tolpo Bader
MORE TOLPO ARTISTS
Carolyn Tolpo Smith
Painter, C.Tolpo / Author www.tolpohawaiiart.com
Vincent Tolpo and Carolyn Lee Tolpo
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