Professor John Carlander was teaching at Westmont before there was a Westmont Art Center. It was only fitting that one of the men who helped create Westmont’s Art Department be the focus of the first exhibition in the Westmont Museum of Art. “John Carlander: Highlights from a 30-Year Career” opened the new facility and ran from Sept. 16 to Nov. 13, 2010.
Construction of Adams Center for the Visual Arts was completed ahead of schedule; the art department had planned the grand opening of the new museum for fall 2011. Carlander, who will teach at Westmont one more year, didn’t expect his show to be the first one in the Westmont Museum of Art. “We thought I would close out Reynolds Gallery,” he says. “It’s my 30th year here, and it seemed appropriate since I spent about 20 years at that gallery. But it was great because my work looked even better in the Westmont Museum.”
The exhibit featured many of Carlander’s traditional figurative and nonrepresentational paintings as well as two prints.
“His ease of working in a variety of styles is one of Carlander’s strengths as an educator,” says Judy Larson, director of the Westmont Museum. “He trusts the intelligence and creativity of his students. His philosophy of teaching is to excite students and encourage them to try new things.”
Carlander, who opened the original Westmont Art Center in 1985 with Professor Tony Askew, enjoyed sharing the exhibit with friends and people who’ve been supportive throughout his career.
Askew, who retired in 2008 after 26 years at Westmont, says Carlander’s dedication is easily recognizable in the outpouring of his creative work. “His strong exhibition record, numerous awards and discipline for spending time in the studio are admirable, all accomplished while maintaining a busy teaching schedule,” Askew says.
Westmont’s permanent collection includes two paintings by Carlander, “View of Florence” and “Color Refraction.” In describing Carlander in the collection’s catalog, Larson notes, “As a teacher, he enjoys the freedom of moving experimentally between naturalism and non-objective art. What these two artistic paths have in common is Carlander’s innate sense of vibrant color combinations and his ability to create compositions that direct the viewer’s eye.”