Larry Connatser (1938-1996)
Larry Connatser, an accomplished pianist and painter, grew up in Atlanta and lived on and off in Georgia throughout his life. A self-taught artist, Connatser developed an expressionistic and brilliantly colored style that usually portrays fantasy figures inhabiting dreamlike spaces. His innovative
The only child of Evelyn Meyers and Roy Connatser, Laurence Stuart Connatser was born on September 17, 1938, in Birmingham, Alabama. The family moved to Atlanta when he was a young child, and he took piano lessons there from the time he was eight years old. Connatser attended public schools and was valedictorian of his class at Northside High School in 1956. When he left Atlanta to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, he seriously contemplated continuing his musical studies as a professional pursuit.
While a student at Vanderbilt, he and a friend opened Tulip Is Black, Nashville's first coffeehouse. This successful business venture became a venue for folk singing, poetry readings, and art exhibitions. Connatser had not yet begun to paint but was influenced by the Austrian-born expressionist Eugene Biel-Bienne, who was then an assistant professor in Vanderbilt's art department. In 1961 Connatser graduated from college and moved to Chicago, Illinois, to work for an educational publishing firm.
Prior to his return to Georgia in 1971, Connaster's work was shown at the College of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology and at the Georgia State College (later Georgia State University) Art Gallery, both in Atlanta; the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina; the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences (later the Chrysler Museum of Art) in Virginia; and galleries in Illinois. Upon his return to Georgia, Connatser maintained residences in Savannah and Atlanta for the rest of his life. He staged private exhibitions from his home and invited interested clients to buy his paintings directly. A prolific artist, he eschewed gallery representation and juried exhibitions, preferring to take commissions or exhibit his work when invited.
The Savannah College of Art and Design commissioned Connatser to design its first logo and a floor mural for the original library, which was located in Poetter Hall. The thirty-six-by-sixty-foot mural dominated the reading room. Designed by Connatser and executed with the help of students, it depicts a chair, books, and an apple. The library eventually outgrew the space and relocated to another part of campus, but the mural is part of the administrative offices that are now located there.
Larry Connatser, Joan Cobitz, and Hollis Koons McCullough, Southern Melodies: A Larry Connatser Retrospective, exhibition catalog (Savannah, Ga.: Telfair Museum of Art, 2002).
Karen Towers Klacsmann, Morris Museum of Art
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.