Arts Grants | One Artist’s Story

Arts Grants | One Artist’s Story


JoEllen Reinhardt enhanced her résumé and secured funding for her favorite art project by winning a grant.

By Christopher Reinhardt

JoEllen Reinhardt ( is a recent recipient of a Worcester Arts Council (WAC) grant. A Worcester native, Reinhardt applied for and received a small grant from WAC to support the development of six separate paintings, each relating to a specific person, company or product that has made a difference in the history of Worcester, Massachusetts.

The grant was for $1,000, which helped to pay for general supplies for the project. “I’ve always been impressed with the many events of cultural and historical significance that have occurred in Worcester, my hometown,” says Reinhardt when asked about her project. “The WAC award provided the incentive to develop a project I’d always planned to do at some point in time.”

Reinhardt’s portrait Smiley Face (oil, 20×16) features Charlie Ball, son of Harvey Ball—the gentleman who designed the Smiley Face as a symbol to raise employee morale at the State Mutual Life Assurance Company. As a result of the showing of her six pieces, which included three portraits, Reinhardt received a portrait commission.

The award, which culminated in a public exhibition, generated significant local buzz in the community, including coverage on a local TV show and in newspaper articles. The signature piece of Reinhardt’s show, entitled My Secret Valentine (second image from top of article) and commemorating Esther Howland, founder of the New England Valentine Company in Worcester, was sold on opening night. There were three portraits in the show; one of them—Smiley Face (above)—depicts Charlie Ball, son of the late Harvey Ball, who is credited with the design of the iconic Smiley Face in 1963. Reinhardt received a portrait commission based upon a referral from someone who attended the show. The client was impressed with Smiley Face and hired Reinhardt to paint a posthumous portrait.

Sprinkler Heads on an Artist’s Palette (oil) pays homage to the old Rockwood Sprinkler Company, 38 Harlow Street, Worcester—home to the Sprinkler Factory Artists Group. This fire protection company was originally made famous by Howard Freeman. While working for the Rockwood Sprinkler Company, Freeman was sent to Washington, D.C., to assist the Navy. Ships held a tremendous amount of oil, and fire was the leading cause of lost ships during World War II. Solving the problem, Freeman invented the Water Fog Nozzle and more than 100,000,000 were manufactured at the factory. Mr. Freeman was an inventor on 22 patents while employed at the Rockwood Sprinkler Company.

“The entire grant experience greatly exceeded my expectations,” says Reinhardt. “I had the privilege to meet some interesting people from Worcester who generously shared their interest and knowledge of the town’s history in preparation for the show. During the opening, small groups would gather around a painting, and people began to share with each other their unique memories or family stories related to the theme of the piece. It was exciting to watch!”

The Washburn and Moen Manufacturing Company was founded in 1831 and later became part of American Steel & Wire. Originally, it was the largest producer of piano wire, though it produced other products such as wire for hooped skirts, corsets and barbed wire. It had three facilities in Worcester including the Northworks building at 100 Grove Street. The company was the largest employer in Worcester providing work for over 200,000 people. Its doors closed in 1978. Reinhardt painted Piano Strings (oil, 20×16) as a tribute.

Christopher Reinhardt is a theoretical physicist, a portrait artist—and husband to the classically trained realist painter and grant winner JoEllen Reinhardt. Learn more about JoEllen’s still life and portrait work at

Reinhardt painted Remembering the Monuments Men (oil, 20×16) to literally do just that. During WWII, 345 men and women from 13 countries were sent to Europe to recover and protect stolen artwork and various treasures. Many of those men and women were curators, artists and historians. These brave men and women, known as the Monuments Men, found thousands of priceless pieces, many hidden in mines thousands of feet into the earth. Among the found objects were paintings by DaVinci, Rembrandt and Vermeer. Later four of the Monuments Men went on to be employed by the Worcester Art Museum (WAM), three directors and one curator. Posing is WAM’s director, Jim Welu. Behind him is Vermeer’s The Astronomer, which was found in a mine.

See Christopher Reinhardt’s entire article “Granting Your Wish” in the January/February 2012 issue of The Artist’s Magazine, with tips for getting a grant or fellowship. Click here to find the digital download.


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