At 90, Jim Cartey inspires OLLI students with his art and humor

Christie Black
April 03, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Jim Cartey is an architect by profession and an artist at heart. After a career spanning 50 years, including working for renowned architect A. William Hajjar, he retired in 1986 from his position as a staff architect at Penn State. For the past 17 years, he has volunteered his time to teach a Water Media class for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Penn State, never missing a semester.

Cartey turned 90 years old in February. His students shared their awe of his accomplishments.

“He’s so talented, so willing to take his talent and let it shine on other people,” Gail Carty, OLLI at Penn State student, said.

Another OLLI student, Evelyn Rothgeb, shared her enthusiasm for the experience.

“What is my favorite part of this class? The people, the learning, the teacher,” Rothgeb said.

Student Anna Wieczorek went straight to the point with her review.

“He’s fabulous,” she said.

While Cartey talked humbly about his talent in class, Marie Doll — executive director of the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania — said he is a longtime member of the Art Alliance and his watercolors have appeared in many of their exhibitions over the years.

“He has a unique style and precise execution that shows his background as an architect,” Doll said. “He also has participated in our Studio Tours, inviting visitors into his home to view many of his paintings.”

Cartey stopped painting last year due to a tremor in his hand, but insisted that will not stop his dedication to inspiring others. He keeps the class lighthearted with his jovial spirit, but seriously persuasive with his words of advice.

“I want to encourage people to paint more; you only become really good at something if you do it every day,” Cartey said. “I keep the class informal, not a lecture, so students want to attend and take the time to paint. My job is not to teach the way you paint, or to teach you to paint like me or someone else — but to give a critique and help you in what you are doing.”

OLLI at Penn State is a membership organization offering affordable courses, trips and social activities geared toward adults who are 50 years and older, but anyone over the age of 18 can participate. Course instructors are volunteers; many are Penn State professors, but others — like Cartey — are hobbyists or professionals who work with OLLI to create a class where they can share their talents with others.

Sarah Anderson, director for OLLI at Penn State, shared her thoughts about Cartey and other volunteer instructors.

“Jim is a quintessential OLLI instructor; he’s enthusiastic, talented, giving and kind. Lifelong learning is all about learning in a welcoming environment with no stress or expectations; learning for pure enjoyment,” Anderson said. “Volunteer instructors are essential to OLLI’s mission to provide educational experiences that enrich the lives of mature adults. We are always looking for people who are willing to share their time and talents by teaching for OLLI.”

OLLI at Penn State offers classes geared toward a variety of interests, including art and dance, astronomy, entomology, politics, fitness, travel, financial planning, food, philosophy, technology and more.

To inquire about becoming an OLLI at Penn State volunteer instructor, member or to register for a class, call 814-867-4278 or visit OLLI at Penn State online.

  • Jim Cartey Water Color

    Jim Cartey's watercolor paintings have been on display at various locations, including exhibitions at the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania.

    IMAGE: Jim Cartey
  • Jim Cartey and Ann Wieczorek OLLI at Penn State

    Jim Cartey working with Ann Wieczorek, an artist and student enrolled in his Water Media class.

    IMAGE: Penn State Outreach and Online Education
  • OLLI at Penn State

    Gail Carty and Evelyn Rothgeb have been taking Cartey's class for 11 years and six years, respectively.

    IMAGE: Penn State Outreach and Online Education
  • OLLI at Penn State student and Jim Cartey

    Cartey takes time to offer a critique to each artist during his three-hour class.

    IMAGE: Penn State Outreach and Online Education
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Last Updated April 03, 2018