Sharon and Michael Bartmann grew up in the small, working class, and industrial city of Reading, Pennsylvania. A city of mainly row homes, older factory buildings, alleyways, urban playgrounds, and abandoned lots. The city is pinned between the Schuylkill River and the woods of Mount Penn and Neversink Mountain. Nature was within walking distance. Amish Farms surrounded the city. It is John Updike country. Reading and its surroundings are the inspirational setting for Updike’s, Pulitzer Prize winning Rabbit Angstrom series. They were born just after the first novel, Rabbit Run. In fact, the story starts out with Rabbit walking down an alley and encountering a group of kids. Most of their childhood days were spent playing in similar places. Although Reading had many professionally designed playgrounds, the alleys and the empty lots are where the kids created their own play. As adults and artist, Sharon and Michael are still inspired by those
abandoned, derelict spaces where the imagination is free to roam. It’s the lack of obvious beauty and undefined territory that allows for the creative process.


SHARON BARTMANN ~ “INTERSECTING CIRCLES”                                                                               

My latest series, “Intersecting Circles”, explores the way relationships create a new space as each human being goes out into the world and has individual experiences. Upon intersecting again, a new dimension and interaction is formed. This either strengthens or, at times changes the dynamics, but always deepens the connection. My paintings use found objects and old boxes intersecting with a painting to give the viewer a narrative that is 3-dimensional, as well. I have incorporated the theory of “spirit boxes” with the process of painting and collage. All these layers tell a story and combine all my passions of found object, painting and clay.












Although Reading is mainly a working class city, their father was an urban planner for the city. His background was architecture. So they grew up with drafting tools: T-squares, triangles, yellow tracing paper, lead drafting pencils, colored markers, and looking at the Plan View of places. The family respected the hand building process. Both grandfathers were carpenters and wood carvers. Saturday morning was often spent at the flea markets with their father. Sharon and Michael were taught to appreciate items with a history that were often hand made and worn, but things that told a story. The small city life and all the right angles were punctuated with numerous meandering and exploring of the local mountains and rivers. Annual trips to Vermont and the wilder Adirondacks, again, exposed them to a different nature. This mix of order, chaos, and exploration of the natural and man-made world continues to influence their artistic process.




I am drawn to non-designed, left-over places. I evoke emotion using spatial dimension, atmosphere, and defining architecture. Tension exist between the use of traditional one point perspective, the flat abstract two-dimensional canvas world, and the surface world of paint. I am interested more in the journey through the space and paint layers rather than a particular fixed image. I like the idea that the viewer is free to roam around. I want the entire process to show through in the final painting. The residue of the previous drawing and painting comes through in final version.










Sharon and Michael both had careers as designers before becoming artists. For many years Sharon was a Graphic Designer/Art Director and Michael was a Landscape Architect. Although they both are highly influenced by their design background they have a love for the non-professionally designed, the vernacular, the accidental and the abandoned. Both still prefer the residue of the alley and empty lot.


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