M. Charles Rhinehart, Class of 1951

img_2542-copyCharles Rhinehart was born in Cantwell, Missouri, in 1930. His family moved to St. Louis for ten years before settling in Ste. Genevieve. Charles was exposed to the fine arts at an early age through family members who painted. By age 14, Charles found a job painting lettering on trucks and small business signs, and his business soon expanded into a full-time sign-painting business. Earning a living wage as a teenager with his entrepreneurship proved to be of such benefit in the aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II that Charles dropped out of high school to work full time with his sign- painting business. But, his interest in the fine arts led him to seriously begin artistic painting at age 19. Charles became a self- taught artist, and he soon found himself accompanying fellow Ste. Genevieve artist and friend, Larry Ziegler, on outdoor painting trips and visits to the St. Louis Art Museum to view the paintings of the masters of the time.

Mr. Rhinehart began entering his works in art shows, art fairs, and juried museum shows, and was soon well into art as a career. At the same time, he knew the value of an education and returned to Ste. Genevieve High School, graduating in 1951, at the age of 21, while continuing to teach himself through the works of early American artists such as Thomas Moran. He lectured and gave demonstrations at area universities and clubs. Charles was offered a teaching position at Southern Illinois University, which he turned down out of fear that the structured environment of teaching art in the classroom daily would interfere with his artistic creativity. Within ten years of his career, he was recognized as one of Missouri’s top artist and his works were included in shows with renowned artists Thomas Hart Benton and Siegfried Reinhardt. He would continue painting and selling his works from his studio in Ste. Genevieve for about twenty years.

In 1975, Charles and his wife, Lavetta, an outstanding artist in her own right, left Missouri to explore and paint in the American West, including the Grand Canyon, Arizona, Utah, and Wyoming. Mr. Rhinehart began showing his works in some prominent art studios and museums in the art communities of: Denver, Vail, Beaver Creek, and Aspen in Colorado; Jackson, Wyoming; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Corta Medera and Rodeo Drive in California. In the late 1970’s, they moved to the small town of Pierce City in southwest Missouri, and began a long relationship with Knox Galleries.

The early 1980’s found the Rhineharts traveling extensively to sketch and paint the Rocky Mountains, the San Juan Mountains, Alaska, British Columbia, and the Yukon. Upon returning to the quiet life in Pierce City, Missouri, they purchased five commercial buildings in downtown Pierce City and this architectural reconstruction compound became their studio, gallery, and workshop, while they lived in the upstairs loft apartment. Sadly, a devastating tornado in 2003 tore through downtown Pierce City, turning the entire town to rubble. Charles and Lavetta sought shelter in the studio portion of the main building and were unharmed, and forever grateful to be alive.

Mr. Rhinehart is a versatile artist working in a number of media and subjects, but prefers landscapes painted in oil. He paints in two major techniques; traditional, using glazes, and a technique that he alone developed and named by the art community as “consciousness”. According to Mr. Rhinehart’s theory, light is color – with longitudinal, lateral, and vertical projections – which he describes in the following words: “The light of a rainbow, for instance, ranges from ultra-violet to infra-red. But when one looks and observes more closely, one becomes aware that all the colors have an ultra and infra quality. When color goes below, so to speak, of infra-red, it becomes audible, and when it goes below which is audible it becomes physical. If the projection is in the other direction, beyond the color of light that is visible, it becomes etheric. This is when one sees the true essence of an object or color.” His works represent his life as a creative endeavor to experience the possibilities within the world through the fine art of oil painting in realistic, abstract, and old world glazing techniques.

Charles Rhinehart’s artwork has been shown in art galleries, art museums, and art shows all over the United States, and he has won numerous honors and awards for his paintings. Art collectors from all over the world have purchased the works of Mr. Rhinehart. The Rhineharts have owned their own art galleries in Springfield, Cape Girardeau, and Pierce City, Missouri, and Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Upon returning to Ste. Genevieve in 2015, his children opened an art gallery in downtown Ste. Genevieve, where Charles continues to paint and display his artwork and hopes to soon begin teaching art to aspiring area artists. In 2004, the Missouri Senate passed a resolution honoring Charles Rhinehart , followed by the Missouri House of Representatives passing a similar resolution in 2005, for his lifetime achievements in art, and being regarded as one of the greatest artists in Missouri‘s history. He is the father of Dale, Gary, Chuck, Matt, Eric, Mark, Jamie, and Tosca. He was happy to return to Ste. Genevieve, where it all started long ago as a teenager painting business signs, and continuing on in his life to live his dream of being an artist and to eventually become recognized as one of Missouri and America’s greatest artists.