Studio Visit and Interview with Albert Schweitzer

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Albert Schweitzer, with his work

Albert Schweitzer is a Baltimore artist who works in paint, ceramics, and sculpture. I stopped by his studio last week to take a look at his latest creations.

Cara Ober: When and where were you born? Where did you grow up?

Albert Schweitzer: 1967, Elkhorn, Wisconsin. I grew up surrounded by nature, lakes, forests, and trails. Very beautiful.
CO: Did you study art in school? If so, where and what?

AS: I received a BFA from UW-Wisconsin Whitewater 1991, And an MFA in Painting in 1995, from the Maryland Institute, College of Art. My teacher was Grace Hartigan, who directed the Hoffberger School of painting.

CO: How did your art making career start?

AS: My high school art teacher was very inspiring and would give me extra paint supplies at the end of school year, and I would paint in the summer. Also, my college professor, Max Taylor was a big influence and Charlie Olson. These teachers in Painting and ceramics were masters of intuition and creativity. I would paint a lot in college, and sell much of my work to fellow students and teachers; it really helped having people buy my work so I could spend it on more supplies.

CO: Why do you live in Baltimore? What advantages and/or disadvantages do you think Baltimore presents for artists?

AS: I live in Baltimore, because it is inexpensive to live and be an artist, surrounded by many other talented artists. It is a very gifted city with great artists. I own a house and it has plenty of room to sculpt and paint.

The disadvantages of living in Baltimore, are that you can’t depend on Baltimore to sell your art. You need to look outside of Baltimore, and get connections. Not a lot of money is here and limited venues.

CO: What are some of the places and spaces where you like to exhibit in Baltimore? Where do you like to go to see art in town?

AS: I like to show my work at School 33, Mapp, Goucher College, Park School, and MICA. I would love to show at the Creative alliance, I enjoy going out to these venues and seeing other artists. I am very interested in seeing what they do, and see their process and material used.

CO: Tell me about your work… What is the media? What is the content?

AS: My work is a very primal expression of intuition. I am a mixed media artist that uses acrylic, ceramic, wood, paper and ink. I have been influenced by the abstract expressionists. I paint images of people and animals that I call “critters” I paint them or sculpt them in environments, in fantasy worlds. Many of the themes have underlining sexual themes, and have emotions of mixed states of being: cheer, humor, confusion, love and loss.

I paint these critters in a world relating to one another. It is a reflection of my own life. Autobiographical in a way, I love jazz and blues and try to paint the emotion of belonging with the human world. I try to bring light, and hope to a world that looks dismal and bleak, to have salvation and optimistic hope, is very important for me to put in my work. Much of my work is like a sexual freak and a Mardi-Gras festival.

CO: I saw your work in Miami art fairs with a Miami gallery. How does a Baltimore artist exhibit with a gallery in Miami? How did that happen? Where else do you exhibit your work?

AS: I recently showed my work at the Bridge Art Fair in Miami Florida, The Gallery that represented me was Barbara Ann Levy Gallery. I have had a working relationship for the last 9 years. We met in her gallery in NYC 9 years ago, and I showed her my work, and she loved it. And the rest is history. Since then, I have showed in Fire Island, in a gallery she had there. I also showed in Gallery K in Washington D.C. and Gallery Neptune in Bethesda Maryland. These relationships have taken years of hard work and a give and take.

CO: What do you do for a living? How do you balance work and art making?

AS: I work at Johns Hopkins University for the last 13 years. I work in the Library Preservation Dept. I live close to home and have turned my house into a working studio, I have taken the advice that Grace Hartigan has told me. She said “Arrange your life to be responsible to your art.” I make art the number one priority.

CO: What upcoming projects do you have lined up?

AS: I plan to showcase my work in Bethesda gallery called Gallery Neptune. It is run by artist/ director Elyse Harrison. She is an amazing artist, and she respects the talents of individual artists.

CO: What are some of your goals for your career?

AS: I would like to pursue the west coast galleries California, and look into European venues like galleries in Germany. I respond well to the painting that is going on in Germany. It is figurative, raw, and crude, with human emotion.

To read more about Albert Schweitzer and see more of his work, go to

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