Building A Legacy

Where It All Began

Leo S. Carty

Leo S. Carty was born on April 17, 1931 in Harlem, New York. At an early age, his artistic talent was immediately recognized when he painted a sports mural while attending a summer recreation program. At age 10, he received a scholarship to the Museum of Modern Art for Children.

After graduating from the High School of Music and Art, Leo S. Carty attended Cooper Union School of Art and later, Pratt Institute to study design. He also served in the U.S. Air Force as an artist in the Department of Training Aids in San Marcos, Texas.

Upon returning to New York, Leo launched a career in commercial art, where he did freelance illustrations for children’s books of major publications, including McGraw-Hill, Viking Press, E.P. Hutton and others. Leo also taught at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus and worked for the New York City Department of Health.

In 1963, Leo founded and ran a successful African American greeting card company called Anton Studios. The cards were an inspiration to the Black community because the images featured African Americans in a time where representation was far and few. This led to Leo working as a cartoonist and he was syndicated in 93 African American newspapers.

From New York to St. Croix, USVI

Leo permanently moved his talents from New York to St. Croix in 1976 after spending time between the US and the USVI for a couple of years. He instantly became involved in teaching art at all levels; adult education, after school classes at the library, University of the V.I. and at the prison. He taught at St. Dunstans Episcopal School for ten years. During his tenure, St. Dunstans was the major art winner among the island schools. For twelve years he was the coordinator and organizer of the very successful Senior Art Program, an Adult Education sponsored program. All the while doing the weekly political cartoon for the St. Croix Avis. He served on many boards; V.I. Council on the Arts, St. Croix Arts Council, St. George Village Botanical Gardens and the St. Croix Jazz Society.

Leo’s impressionistic paintings adorn the walls of various buildings throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands including the Alric L. Christian federal building and Orange Grove Courthouse. Leo was only the third African American artist to receive and complete a general services administration commission at the time. 

In 1996, Leo received his highest honor, as one of twelve recipients of the Governors’ First Awards for Excellence in the Arts, “in recognition of your accomplishments and exceptional contribution toward the advancement of the Visual Arts in the Virgin Islands.” He had the distinction of being the only non-native born honoree.

Son Continues His Father’s Legacy

Following in his father’s footsteps, Stefan Carty started painting at a young age. He learned to paint watching his dad and from raw God given talent. Stefan also attende St. Dunstan’s Episcopal School and studied art under his father.

In 1982, Stefan won a borough-wide art contest in Brooklyn, New York and his work was on exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. An honor that his father was proud of, since he won an art scholarship at the age 10 himself. Stefan would prove to be an accomplished artist himself, when he was humbled with the honor of producing the 2005 commissioned portrait of the former Secretary of State, and retired General, Colin Powell for the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Stefan specializes in portraits that capture the soul and essence of the subject in order to evoke an emotional attachment to the piece. Stefan also has an MBA, an accomplished career in business and is a veteran of the U.S. Army. He currently works as a business consultant and freelance artist.

In 2020, Stefan founded Carty Fine Art Studios in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of his father’s passing. Carty Fine Art Studios is your marketplace to explore art through the lens of the African American and Caribbean West Indian experience by father and son.

Shop now for exclusive limited quantity archival pigment prints on quality German Etching paper and on stretched canvas by the late Leo S. Carty & his son Stefan Carty.

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