robert rimmer

JOED VIERA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Robert Rimmer in front of two of his caricatures, now on display at the Niagara History Center.

Robert Rimmer has childhood memories of his father watching “old time wrestling” on television while he sat on the floor and tried to draw the wrestlers with papers, pencils and crayons. 

Later, as a student in Lockport City School District, Rimmer learned from teachers and mentors who helped to ignite his interest in art, including Jack DiMaggio, Bill Storrs, Joe Whalen and Gene Reed.

He went on to get his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art education from Buffalo State College, graduating in 1978. One of Rimmer’s first jobs was with the Lockport school district, on the grounds crew. He said he can remember mowing the football field at Emmet Belknap when his father pulled up and told him he had an interview with Newfane school district in an hour.

Rimmer started at Newfane as a long-term substitute for an art teacher on maternity leave at the high school. The next year, he took a second job there, as a long-term substitute in art for another maternity leave at the elementary school. When the teacher didn’t return, Rimmer started his full-time career at Newfane, teaching at the elementary school level for 20 years, before he moved to the high school for another 15.

As a teacher, he said, “I wanted to make sure I had the ability to show my students, whatever class I was giving, you can be good at a lot of different things. I wanted to be able to, if they asked me a question, show them.” So he became proficient in several mediums, including air brush.  

Over the years, Rimmer has become known for his caricatures. Even as a student, he said he would draw his teachers in a funny way. He later learned from Philip Burke, an internationally known caricature artist from Niagara Falls, how to better “push some of the exaggerations.” Now retired from teaching, Rimmer has been using his extra time to create more art. 

His work is currently on display at the Niagara County History Center, 215 Niagara St., Lockport. The exhibit, “More Than a Funny Face,” is ongoing through Sept. 17.

The exhibit includes a variety of his works in watercolor, color pencil, photography and, of course, caricatures. Rimmer said the exhibit is designed to show people that he can create beyond caricatures.

Included, however, are his political caricatures of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Rimmer said he likes putting in hidden details that “take a little time to find.”

He calls the caricature of Trump “The Donald,” as his hair and mouth are in the shape of the Disney character Donald Duck’s beak. Trump’s teeth are in the shape of the Trump towers.

For Clinton, the scarf around her neck is made to resemble a noose and has her email address written on it. Her earring is also her cell phone.

As for his watercolor works, Rimmer take photographs of images that catch his eye due to colors, textures, angles or shadows.

He said some of the local images are of things he passes everyday, such as “going to work for 36 years, I would see the Harrison Radiator water towers.”

Rimmer’s work is also being highlighted in a 16-month calendar, which starts in September and ends in December 2017. The calendar will go on sale Sept. 10 at Art 247 on Market Street, where he has his studio. Rimmer will be available that day for a meet and greet from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Rimmer said the calendar will feature some of his caricatures, along with regional scenes he has created.

According to Jay Krull, the Niagara Art Trail has been publishing artist calendars for several years and Krull is pleased to be adding Rimmer this year.

“(Robert) is known by some, more for his caricatures, and like his exhibit at the History Center, the calendar features a broad spectrum of his repertoire,” Krull said.

Calendars will sell for $20. After the initial release, calendars will be available at Ticklebridge in the Bewley Building as well as the History Center or can be ordered online at niagaraarttrail.com.

Contact reporter Rikki Cason at 439-9222, ext. 6252.