Working Boats and Waterways from Robert Yonke

I can’t remember when the rivers weren’t a consuming interest of mine. As a young boy, my father would take me with him as he would make truck deliveries to the wharf in Pittsburgh. I remember the enormous wakes generated by the sternwheelers and the blanketing smoke from the stacks of commercial towboats racing across a finish line marked by the Smithfield Street Bridge. I have images of the Homer Smith related to me in stories by my grandmother and mother. These experiences built a store of images that I have attempted to recreate in my work.

These paintings scope historic craft to modern diesel tows. The attempt is to capture the feeling of a particular scene rather than a historical illustration. I have had the good fortune to spend time on commercial tows on the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny, picking up barges and locking through dams. To this day, I can’t cross a bridge or drive along any inland waterway without scanning for boat traffic and, if possible, stop to record photographs. I intend to continue to paint the rivers and the transportation system built on them.

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn more