Joseph A. Whalen (1927-2015), The Artist in the Men's Room, undated; watercolor, 11 x 14; Private Collection

Joseph A. Whalen (1927-2015), The Artist in the Men's Room, undated; watercolor, 11 x 14; Private Collection

"Painting for Over Sixty Years" by Jessica Raff

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Art and Soul Gift Shop inside of the Market Street Art Center in Lockport is the best place for a collector to find watercolor paintings by Joseph Whalen, an artist from Lockport who specializes in watercolor and acrylic. He is a well-respected member of the Lockport community founding the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society. Whalen’s exhibitions are numerous; the Kenan Center House Gallery, the Rosalie "Roz" Steiner Art Gallery at Genesee Community College, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. As an Art Educator in the Lockport City School District a friend of Whalen’s shared “he was well respected by his students”. He describes Joe Whalen as having “a loud booming voice” and he expected quality work from his students.

Whalen has been painting for over sixty years. Although he has a distinct style of painting, he does not shy away from trying new techniques. In a painting “The Polka Dancers” he uses his watercolors in a style reminiscent of pointillism. He said that although it was enjoyable to try using watercolor in this way he did not pursue it any further once he had done that painting he was done with that style. As an artist Whalen understands watercolor is a medium that does what it wants. In a recent Community Watercolor Roundtable discussion held at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Whalen said if you try to make the medium do something that it does not want to do it will respond by saying “Oh yeah just see what I will do to you!”

In many of Whalen’s works you can see images of places and people from the area in and around Lockport and other regional landscapes. He openly discusses his enjoyment in painting bar room scenes. In a video interview with WBTA-AM radio 1490's Wanda Frank in the Rosalie "Roz" Steiner Art Gallery, he states that he enjoys these scenes because you can sit down and observe people. It allows you to pick up on the subtleties of people’s looks and behaviors. When you view the bar room scenes you can feel the persona’s that are painted as if you were sitting watching them yourself.

Is there a noteworthy regional artist you would like to pay homage to?

Jessica Raff


Jessica Raff is an Art Educator raised and residing in Lockport, New York.