About “The Carpenter Artist”

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Matthew James Christopher Reilly was born in Appleton, WI on Mother’s Day of 1960.  He graduated from Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in 1985. He jokes that his BFA is a “Big Fucking Achievement”.  And rightly so.  Matthew studied under some “heavy hitting” professors including Paul and Polly Caster,  Harold Huber, Waldek Dynerman, Rick Thrun, Ed Beck and Terrence Coffman.

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“The Inner Landscapes of Terrence Coffman”  Shepherd Express, June 2018

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Matthew grew up as child number 6 (out of 7) in a large Catholic family.  When his father remarried, Matthew had a total of 12 siblings.  Needless to say, Matthew escaped into art and can be remembered drawing “castles” and “eyes” as a little boy.  Here is their home in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey.

Reilly residence Mountain Lakes New Jersey

By the time that Matthew was 16, his family relocated to Shorewood, Wisconsin and he graduated from Shorewood High School in 1978.   While at Shorewood, his award-winning image of  Gandolf from The Lord of the Rings became the cover of the school’s Pegasus Magazine.

Then tragedy.  Matthew was 16 and working as a gas station clerk one night.  He found himself a victim of attempted murder.   The robbing gunman escaped and ended up killing someone at a different gas station the following week.  Unfortunately for Matthew, adequate compensation and mental health treatment were never received.  He was left to fend for himself and find his own way in life.

So he chose to put himself through art school. 

Matthew attended the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.   To support his way through art school, he worked as a cabinet maker at North Shore Enterprises in Milwaukee off of North Avenue.  He has been doing carpentry in various degrees ever since.

Matthew’s mother, Patricia Callahan, also an artist, left a huge mark on his life.  Unfortunately, she died when he was young, adding even more to his complex grief and severe PTSD.

Mom by artist Matthew Reilly


Matthew specializes in large works of modern art.  He likes to call himself “an action painter”.  Others might describe him as an abstract expressionist, interactive artist and surrealist.  He has a lifetime of substantial work that has yet to be documented.

Matthew can be reached for custom work, interviews and event requests: thecarpenterartist@gmail.com

Visual Gallery

You can also email angie@ozaukeetalent.com to get a hold of Matthew.