Mel Carter is highly revered in the Denver area as a unique artist and an insightful teacher. He moved to Denver in 1965 and taught art at the University of Colorado at Denver for nearly 30 years. Many artists attribute their success, at least in part, to Mel’s encouragement and instructive comments on their work. They hold him in high esteem as both mentor and friend.
Always an artist, Mel was born in Birmingham, Alabama but studied worldwide. He earned his MFA at the University of Illinois and then studied in the Netherlands on a Fulbright scholarship. He attended the Catholic University in Lima, Peru, and the Lorenzo de Medici Institute in Florence, Italy. Whether teaching at University College in London, the University of Rome or the Sorbonne in Paris, or merely experiencing life, he painted the people and places of his travels.
Mel was acknowledged as a master at bringing life to landscapes and capturing both powerful and evocative nuances in his male and female studies. Mel’s work has been admired and honored in many local, national and international exhibitions.
He is recognized as one of the 30 most significant artists of this century. Besides showing well over 70 exhibits, Mel’s work has been featured in art films and a wide variety of publications. He was a member of the Governor’s Selection Committee for Excellence in the Arts, on the Board of the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, and a juror for numerous art shows. His works are included in collections in the Denver community and around the world.
Not merely a painter of life, Mel was a participant! He involved himself with his students, whether by accommodating schedules of those who needed to work, or holding the line if they fought against themselves. As Mel traveled, he documented his journeys through beautifully illustrated sketchbooks. Then he showed his students how to engage with the world as they passed through it and make sketchbooks of their own.
As a Commissioner of Art for the City and County of Denver, Mel took an active role, with a particular eye toward public funding for minority artists. Among other kindly works, an exhibit of Mel’s yearly Christmas cards, always with the word Peace, and the presence of an angel, served as a fund raising gift to Project Angel Heart.
Mel’s love of old Denver architecture kept him happily settled in Capitol Hill for 20 years, until his death in 1998. Denver is honored to remember Mel Carter not only as an artist, but as a teacher, a role model and a friend.