About the Artwork
Artist / Title / Date
Perry Acker / "The Aqueduct" / 1976
About the Piece
This painting was donated to the City of Renton by Jerry Shellan and his sons in August 1976, in loving memory of Phyllis Shellan. Acker creates dramatic shadows in this watercolor spilling onto the steps in the center of the painting. The broad brushstrokes of the leaves and bricks contrast with the delicate, opaque brushwork of the branches and archways. A cross sits in the archway on the lower left, indicating the building perhaps once had a religious purpose. Two human figures walk arm-in-arm at the center, while three more are barely visible under the open archway on the right.
Buildings are perpetually dying and being born, though their lifespans are usually longer than our own. Stone cathedrals, like the one Acker paints, have given way to the bricks and steel of modern construction. Ruins like this one hint at the past glory of those who came before us and provide clues about what life was like in other times. Even in the face of human intrusions, nature remains present, as we see here in Acker’s mountain and trees. What ruins have you visited? What was it like being there?
Perry Acker (1903-1989), an internationally known watercolor artist, was born in Elk Rapids, Michigan in 1903. He taught art at the University of Washington and Burnley School in Seattle, and he conducted tours to Europe and the Far East. His paintings have been shown at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, The Royal Watercolor Society in London, and the De Young Museum in San Francisco. His paintings are included in the collections of the Seattle Art Museum and Lake Oswego, Oregon. He is listed in "Who's Who in American Art."