On Exploring a Treasured Cincinnatian

Charley Harper (August 4, 1922-June 10, 2007) is a Cincinnati treasure. Even though his art work is well-known in my city, I didn’t realize his national prominence. While visiting two Frank Lloyd Wright homes (Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob) this past summer, I noticed Charley Harper books in the gift shops, and when seeing his work in the midst of Wright’s designs, I made a wonderful connection.

Local organizations as the Cincinnati Zoo and various parks donned his artwork, which served as my first exposure to Charley Harper. Little did I know that national and international organizations also used his work.


37 thoughts on “On Exploring a Treasured Cincinnatian

    • Trent,
      Although not aware of him, the question is do you like or dislike his work? After all, not everyone likes his style. I can justify getting dumber with this … the more one learns, the more they realize how much they don’t know.


  1. I had not heard of your Charley Harper previously Frank. Thank you for the introduction! I like his playful and fun pictures very much – he shows such a sense of fun with them. And the way he uses geometry in so many too is quite eye catching!

    As the show continued on, I felt I knew many of his pictures – the birds and animals especially. The end blurb stated he had drawn for ‘Golden Books’ so no doubt that is where I saw his work previously – We had quite a library of ‘Little Golden Books back in the 70’s and my kids probably grew up looking at many of his illustrations.


    • Pauline,
      I was unsure if anyone would know Charley Harper, but I’m getting some surprise answers. Love the way you made a connection to books from decades ago. … and cheers for you liking one of Cincinnati’s local treasures.


      • Like many graphic and commercial artists, his work is probably better known than his name. This is true of most illustrators for books and magazines, so yes, his work is familiar to me ,some of the best of its time and it’s kind, I know I’ve seen it before, but his renown is more local than global….probably only an asterisk in the Art History textbooks …maybe because he didn’t hang out with the right cliques on the left or right coast’s… 🙂


  2. You didn’t get my comment…it’s not here and I left it here…where is it????? It was a great comment. Filled to the brim, and over flowing with superlatives over….just about everything…2014, moving, laughing, having coffee, laughing, friends, art, music, dancing, enjoyment, sharing, 2015, more coffee and more laughing. I think I’ve re-covered everything I said before….maybe not. Maybe there’s just two more words: Thank You. And then there’s this: xxoxox


    • Raye,
      It’s here … well not here on this post … but the previous post. 🙂 Meanwhile, a question for you. Your art style is very different from Charley Harper’s (this video). Were you aware of him? Do you like or dislike his creations?


  3. As someone who has been studying Graphic Art and Graphic Design for the past 2 years I would like to thank you for introducing me to Charley Harper. I think you get to see a lot about an artist by what they produce. Mr Harper has a great appreciation for lines, for shape and for quirky content, all elements that I personally appreciate. His work is very personal and intimate. Not always easy to reproduce in graphic art. His obvious love for animals and his surroundings flows smoothly into his art. I know how difficult it would have been to physically reproduce what he has created here and admire the man on many different levels. Excellent balance, an amazing use of colour whilst all the time, Charley Harper is peeping out of every image in little bursts of good humour. The viewer feels like they have a window of opportunity to gaze through at Charley Harper’s life and into his mind. Cheers for sharing this Mr Frank. This mans work is magnificent 🙂


    • Narf,
      Oh my … love for Charley Harper has reached Tasmania! If you could see the smiles your comment created!

      Many thanks for your analysis, after all, I’m not an artist, thus I appreciate your description! Cincinnati is lucky to have another famed wildlife artist .. John Ruthven (now age 90) … different style, but spectacular. Here you go .. http://tinyurl.com/qfhy8gj .. .Enjoy.


      • I am not an artist either but after studying graphic design for 2 years I can recognise someone who is ;). John Ruthven paints by the look of it, now that takes some serious talent. Some people are able to take in the world around them and reproduce it beautifully. Some of us take in the world’s beauty but have a lot of trouble in translation. Thank you for sharing these 2 most excellent artists Mr Frank. I, myself, am more partial to Charley Harper’s work, it just speaks to me 🙂


  4. You always find and share the most unique stuff. I know I’ve seen his work, but never knew the artist.
    (Hey did you know the Today Show dis some sort of “Life Musical” this morning? I caught a glimpse – copying Frank!
    Hope you “In-between Week” is fun and restful (and those do too go together sometimes!)


    • Mouse,
      When I saw the story about “Today: The Musical”, I thought the same thing … plus copyright infringement … or the stole my idea …. but they should at least fly me to NYC to meet the personalities!

      Glad you found Charley Harper’s work to be interesting. Being local, he’s popular here, but hey .. we probably don’t realize his prominence in the field. Who knows … maybe I’ll do another post on him in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kay,
      Glad I was about to bring a Cincinnati artist to you. I also love his work, and I have a friend who is over-the-top crazy about him! On the other hand, his art isn’t for everyone .. .as my wife says, this type makes her teeth hurt (too angular for her).


  5. Pingback: On Simply Two Birds – A Frank Angle

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