Jul 07, 2023

Railroad artist to start book tour at Chicago Union Station (corrected)

J. Craig Thorpe will discuss art, sign autobiography

Get the newest photos, videos, stories, and more from brands. Sign-up for email today!

CHICAGO – Nationally known railroad artist J. Craig Thorpe will appear at Chicago Union Station on Wednesday, April 26, as the kickoff event of an Eastern book tour to promote his new autobiography Railroads, Art, and American Life (Indiana University Press. 2023). At each stop, he will discuss his artwork and sign books and posters.

The 194-page book includes oil paintings, watercolors, pencil and pen-and-ink sketches, and other illustrations spanning a career of more than 30 years.

Thorpe grew up in Pittsburgh, where his grandfather often took him for rides on streetcars and commuter trains. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in design. After working for architects, he relocated to Seattle and began doing architectural renderings. A commission to portray a proposed train station for Olympia, Wash., caught the attention of Amtrak, which featured the painting on its 1993 national calendar.

Since then, his portfolio has centered almost exclusively on railroad subjects. These include not only historic themes and present-day scenes, but also concept portrayals of future trains, services, and facilities for agencies, state DOTs, and railroad museums. Corporate and private-commission work includes images produced for Amtrak; BNSF Railway; GE Transportation Systems; Union Tank Car Co.; Grand Canyon Railway; White Pass & Yukon Route; East Broad Top; Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad; Railroaders Memorial Museum of Altoona, Pa.; and many other commuter, transit, excursion and museum operations.

His philosophy of railroad art is forward-looking: “In our cultural haste, we have forgotten the enticing reality that rail provides more than just another way to move ourselves and our stuff. It has an inherent DNA that strengthens civil society and the common good. Original art helps bring that to life.”

Thorpe and his wife Cathy live in Bellevue, Wash. They have three adult children and two grandchildren.

The schedule for the Chicago event is:

— 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., display art and meet passengers in the Metropolitan Lounge.— 3 to 6 p.m., book sales and signings at the Chicago News Now bookstore (formerly Hudson News) on the mezzanine level.— 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., display art and meet passengers in the Metropolitan Lounge.

Other appearances (call or check with each to confirm times and venues) are:

— Friday-Saturday, April 28-29, Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, Washington, Pa.

— Sunday, April 30, Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, Cumberland, Md.

— Tuesday, May 2, Railway & Locomotive Historical Society Steel City Chapter, Irwin, Pa.

— Wednesday, May 3, Railroaders Memorial Museum, Altoona, Pa.

— Friday-Saturday, May 5-6, East Broad Top Railroad and Rockhill Trolley Museum, Rockhill Furnace, Pa.

— Sunday, May 7, Northern Central Railway of York, New Freedom, Pa.

— Tuesday, May 9, Cupboard Maker Books, Enola, Pa., and Harrisburg Chapter, National Railway Historical Society.

— Wednesday, May 10, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Strasburg, Pa.

— Updated at 5:20 p.m. CDT to correct Chicago date to April 26.

J. Craig Thorpe will discuss art, sign autobiography