Carl Gustaf Nelson

b. 5 Jan. 1898 (Hörby, Sweden)
d. 6 Aug. 1988


Carl Nelson was a professional teaching artist.  After retiring at 71, he bought a piece of land and settled in a house on Great Cranberry Island.  He called his little estate "Tosh Park", and sent out a charming Christmas postcard to all his friends explaining why he was retiring to Great Cranberry.

Carl's ashes are reported to be resting under his front lawn at Tosh Park.


BornHörby, Sweden, January 5, 1898
Arrived U.S.A.October, 1903
NaturalizedMay 6, 1920
StudiedChicago Academy of Fine Arts- 1920-21
Art Students League of New York- 1923-1927
      with Kimon Nicolaides & Kenneth Hayes Miller
Travelled14 countries in Europe / May-December, 1928
ScholarshipTiffany Foundation 1931-32-32
Sioux City Society of Fine Arts/ 1922-29
American Peoples School of New York City/ 1934-42
Boris Mirski Gallery/ 1945-47
Cambridge School of Design/ 1948-52
Boston Y.W.C.A./ 1946-68
ExhibitedSartor Galleries, Dallas/ 1934
Addison Gallery of American Art/ 1932
Carnegie International/ 1935-38
Whitney Museum Biennial/ 1934, 1936, 1938
Chicago Art Institute/ 1935, 1938
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts/ 1935, 1946, 1947
Worcester Museum/ 1946, 1948
De Cordova Museum/ 1951, 1956, 1961, 1963
Boston Art Festival/ 1952, 1953, 1955, 1960, 1961, 1964
Denver Museum/ 1953
University of Illinois/ 1952
Toledo Museum/ 1937-46 Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center/ 1935, 1936, 1938
Boston Institute of Contemporary Art/ 1949, 1950
American Federation of Art Travel Show/ 1937
New York Worlds Fair/ 1940
Colby College/ 1966
Schoolhouse Gallery, Sanibel, Florida/ 1973-present
Horizon Gallery, Rockport, Mass./ 1973-present
Virginia Drury Gallery, Cambridge, Mass./ 1972-75
One-Man ExhibitsMacbeth Gallery, New York/ 1932-33
Boris Mirski Gallery, Boston/ 1946, 1953, 1960, 1962, 1967
Fitchberg Museum (Massachusetts)/ 1957-68, 1972
Boston Y.W.C.A. Retrospective/ 1947, 1956
University of Maine/ 1960
Iowa Art Project Travel Show/ 1940
Agnes Scott College/ 1950
Georgia Tech/ 1950
M.I.T. Faculty Club/ 1958
Cambridge School of Design/ 1949
Antiques Gallery, Southwest Harbor, Maine/ 1971
Schoolhouse Gallery, Sanibel, Florida
Cambridge Art Association (three years)
Causeway Club, Southwest Harbor, Maine/ 1974
Virginia Drury Gallery, Cambridge/ 1973-75
RepresentedWorcester Museum (two works)
Addison Gallery of American Art
Fitchberg Museum
University of Maine
Brandeis University
Binghampton Museum, New York
Walker Gallery, Minneapolis
Government and Private Collections
University of Massachusetts
Portland Museum, Maine (three works)
BiographyWho's Who in American Art
Swedish "Konst Lexikon"
BooksAmerican Painting Today, Nathaniel Pousette Dart, (Hastings House, 1956)
Drawings of the Masters, (American Drawings), Barlett H. Hayes, (Shorewood Publishers, NYC, 1965), reproduction: "Angel"
Land of the Free, Herbert Agar, (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1935), reproduction: "Central Park"
Modern Art in America, Martha Candler Cheney, Whittsley House, (McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1939), reproduction: "Musicians"
Print-Making, Janet Doub Erickson, Adelaide Sproule, (Reinhold Publishing Company, New York City, 1966)
Film1969: Movie Short made by Betsy Seigel and David Westphal of Brandeis University and registered in the Library of Congress, shown in America and Europe.
Title: "Of Endless Wonder."

click to enlarge

courtesy of Polly Bunker

courtesy of Wesley Bracy, Jr.

Tosh Park 1997

Carl's 1969 Xmas postcard

courtesy of Barbara Brooks

Carl on his 80th. birthday

courtesy of Wini Smart

Carl wore wild colors and patterns

coutesy of Wini Smart

courtesy of Wini Smart

Carl's Art


From The Bar Harbor Times, 18 August 1988

Cranberry Isles lose painter Carl G. Nelson

The Times would like to thank Charles Wadsworth, a Cranberry Island resident and publisher of the Tidal Press who has known Carl Nelson for 50 years, for writing this article.

Carl G. Nelson, born in Sweden in 1898, came to the United States when he was five-years-old.  A part-time resident of Cranberry Isles for 21-years and a full-time resident for 19-years following his retirement from teaching in Boston, he died Aug. 6, 1988 at the age of 91.  Death followed a brief illness at a hospital near the residence of his niece Elaine Madsen of Oakland Grove, Illinois, who had provided him with loving care during his last years when he had become both blind and deaf.

Nelson, during his long professional life, was both a well-known painter and a respected teacher.  His students at The Sioux City Society of Fine Arts in Sioux City, Iowa; The American Peoples School in New York City; The Cambridge School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts; The Boris Mirski Gallery in Boston, Mass.; The Cummington School of the Arts in Cummington, Mass.; and the YWCA Workshops in Boston, Mass., were legion.  In spite of a very heavy teaching schedule, he was also a prolific artist who worked in a variety of mediums which included oils, caseins, pen and ink and linoleum cuts.  A collection of his linoleum cuts called The Prince of Peace, was published by The Tidal Press of Cranberry Island in 1979.

In the course of his career he was invited to appear in a number of distinguished group shows such as The Carnegie International; The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; The Whitney Museum Biennial; The Boston Arts Festival and the Worcester Museum among others.  A partial listing of his work in the collections of a variety of museums includes The Worcester Museum, The Addison Gallery of American Art; The University of Maine and The Portland Museum of Art.  His work is in many private collections.  In his latter years he had a long and fruitful association with Fred and Clarice Fox who ran The Schoolhouse Gallery in Sanibel, Florida.  He was productive to the end, producing work into his 80s.

But a listing of official honors does not include Mr. Nelson's prowess as a host and chef.  The many whom he invited to sumptuous dinners can testify to that prowess.  Nor does it include his passion for gardening, in particular for the care and nurture of every sort of flower which could be induced to bloom on Cranberry Island and provide constant subject matter for his paintings.  And mention should be made of the discreet flamboyance of his wardrobe which was often as colorful as his garden flowers and of his generosity in distributing the largesse from his vegetable patch.

Although he has gone, the memory of his life is certain to be a permanent part of the lore and legend of Cranberry Island.  A memorial service will be held in the church on Cranberry Island at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28.

Abstract oil by Carl Nelson painted in the early 1950s
courtesy of Southwest Harbor Antiques Gallery

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