Teddy Caplan began taking art classes when he was just 4 years old. And by the time he finished middle school, he knew that he wanted to be a professional artist.
Now, the soft-spoken 16-year-old Squirrel Hill native is well on his way to making that happen.
Caplan, who is a junior at Pittsburgh Allderdice, will be showing his work at a special gallery event on Nov. 18 at Perlora Loft on East Carson Street, quite an accomplishment for the young man whose love for art began as a preschooler taking classes along with his grandmother at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.
Twelve years later, Caplan is psyched to present his first solo show, which will feature about 50 of his ink and watercolor paintings.
“My whole life I have loved art,” said Caplan, who typically spends three or four hours a day sketching, painting, making jewelry or working on his ceramic pieces. He spends even more time on his art on the weekends.
Perlora Loft, with its emphasis on contemporary design, is an ideal place for his first show, he said. His images tend to be simple and modern and work well with the furnishings and accessories in the South Side store, which opened in September adjacent to the Perlora furniture store.
Perlora Loft offers affordable pieces aimed at millennials and those who are downsizing, according to Lora Sigesmund, who owns the store along with her husband, Perry.
Caplan was unknown to Sigesmund until about two months ago, when he reached out to her via email describing his fondness for her store and sharing with her images of some of his work.
The characters in his watercolor and ink paintings, he wrote, “have taken over a big part of my life through my style and technique.” The abstract design of his characters, he continued, “takes a spin on the human figure inspired by wind and vivid movement. Using ink and watercolor, I can achieve the look and feel of my characters.”
Sigesmund was impressed, not only by the work itself, but also by the pluck of the artist and offered to host a show for his work at her new store.
“He just touched my heart,” Sigesmund said. “And I was impressed by his courage to reach out. If you don’t try, you never know.”
Caplan has taken courses at the Pittsburgh Glass Center, the Art Connection at the Carnegie Museum and the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG). Fifteen percent of the proceeds from his sales at the Perlora Loft show will be donated to MCG.
The Community Day School grad and member of Congregation Dor Hadash always had a passion and drive to create.
“I do this every day,” he said. “It never gets boring.”
He has already sold a few commissioned paintings and pieces of jewelry to family friends, and his ink and watercolor greeting cards are being sold at Toadflax in Shadyside and Wedner’s Squirrel Hill Flower Shop.
In addition to his art, Caplan also enjoys baking and was an intern at Bella Christie bakery, where he developed skills in cake decorating. This past summer he traveled to Stamford, Conn., to participate in the JCC Maccabi ArtsFest.
Caplan is refining his portfolio to present at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where he will receive feedback on his work from college representatives.
He is “anxious and excited” about his show at Perlora Loft.
“It’s my first big thing,” he said. “I’m just really excited to take the next steps with my art and see where it takes me.”
Caplan’s show will be held on Nov. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at 2220 East Carson St. Refreshments will be served, and the artist will be creating a piece live.
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.