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Arete Gallery: Painting by Carl Abken

Carl Abken

Meet the Artist

Carl grew up in New Jersey, the son of two artists, and followed in their footsteps to study fine art and oil painting at the Art Students League of NYC. Later he continued his study at the historic Salmagundi Club. He studied under accomplished artists who shaped his view and influenced his own techniques. As life would have it his artistic endeavors were put on hold as he and his wife raised two beautiful daughters. Sadly, his wife passed at a young age and his oldest daughter came to be stationed in Alaska with the army. With her deployment to Afghanistan, Carl took the opportunity to leave his NJ life and move to Alaska to look after her home and return to painting. His youngest stayed behind in NYC to begin her own study of fine art. In time he worked with a gallery in Anchorage where he began to do restoration work and commissioned works in addition to teaching locally. With an eye toward the works of Sydney Laurence, Carl painted landscapes and historic Alaskan scenery. It all came to an end with a massive stroke that left him with aphasia and near-complete paralysis of his right hand, his painting hand.

He returned to NYC to live with his youngest daughter where she set him up in a studio apartment one floor below her own. With no other family or friends, he took to walking miles each day, sometimes from Queens to Manhattan for his group therapy. He would snap photos with his phone along the way, his new art form since painting was no longer an option. Then the world changed when Covid struck, and he was confined alone in his apartment. He used those months to retrain himself to paint with his left hand. His favorite subjects are taken from the street scenes of everyday life he captured in the photos as he walked by those many days through Queens and Manhattan. Through remarkable perseverance and passion for his art, the results are nothing short of inspirational.

Arete Gallery: Artist, Carl Abken