Merkel and Gelman — Art for the middle class

Artist Carman Bonanno started his career painting murals and sacred pictures at churches in Italy, according to The Annex Galleries of Santa Rosa, CA.

Bonanno, born in New York in 1901, lived in southern Italy and Sicily in his adolescent, teen and young adult years, and studied art in Rome.

In 1931, he returned to the United States and studied print making at the Art Students’ League.

The artist served in the U.S. military during World War II as aviation engineer at North Africa and Italy.

During and after the war he created drypoint prints and etchings.

The Post-Star of Glens Falls on June 18, 1946, described the artist as “a returned G.I. whose work reflects the beauty of a peaceful mind.”

If your parents or grandparents handed down a Bonanno print in the family, there is a chance it was purchased at Merkel and Gelman department store in downtown Glens Falls — “The Store of Cheerful Service.”

Bonanno was among the artists in the first series of 12 signed, limited edition reprint works of the Modern Etchers Group, offered at Merkel and Gelman at 200 Glen St.

“For some time, Merkel and Gelman has felt that fresh outlets should be opened to creative work so that art might be made available to a greater number of people,” The Post-Star reported. “By sponsoring this group it felt that it had an opportunity to take an active part in the world of art.”

Other artists in the initial series were: Peggy Bacon, Alex Blum, Andrew B. Karoly and Louis Szanto, Herschel Lewis, Louis Lozowick, and Edward Sanborn.

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY