Ora Coltman was born in 1858 in Shelby, Ohio, but spent most of his working artistic life in Cleveland, and is considered to be a Cleveland artist.
He was a painter, block printer, sculptor, muralist, architect, teacher, and writer.
In the 1880's Coltman came to Cleveland to study law, but abandoned that career to become an artist. He worked as a designer at the Joseph Carabelli Monument Works as a designer.
He Studied at the Cleveland School of Art (The Cleveland Institute of Art) with William Merritt Chase at the Art Students League in New York City, and at the Academie Julian in Paris.
Coltman's first solo exhibition was in 1902 at the Case Library. He exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1900, 1903, 1911, 1929, 1932. Additionally, at the Society of Independent Artists, and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia from 1925-32. He exhibitited in annual Cleveland artists' and craftsmen's shows, in oil, watercolor and pastel. Also at the Copley Society in Boston, and the Corocoran Gallery in Washington. His works were exhibited at the Cleveland Museum of Art in the May Show from 1922-1940.
After 1918 he began spending summers painting in Provincetown, Massachusetts. His best friend was George Adomeit, and they often painted together in the environs of Cleveland and in Provincetown as well. Coltman was famous in the Little Italy neighborhood of Cleveland, where he had a studio. Coltman Road was named for him.
He was a member of the Cleveland Society of Artists and Cleveland Printmakers.
His works are exhibited at the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngtown, Ohio.
He created a full size wall mural for the Cleveland Public Library entitled "Dominance of the City." From thelivingnewdeal.org: "Coltman produced Dominance of the City between 1933 and 1934. It was the first New Deal mural commissioned in Cleveland. The New Deal was a federal program under the direction of the Treasury Department. The first program put into effect under the New Deal was the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), and it ran from December 1933 to June 1934. The purpose of PWAP was to employ struggling artists to create art scenes of American life for public and government buildings. Coltman’s contribution was Dominance of the City, a mural triptych. A triptych is comprised of three separate and distinct panels. In this work, each section depicts a specific area of Cleveland. The largest part, the middle segment, displays a bridge rising over the Cuyahoga River in the Flats. The left portion is a painting of the Ohio Bell building, and the right panel portrays the St. Theodosius Church, which can be found in the Tremont neighborhood. It is a beautiful and thoughtful piece of art which came from a talented and unique artist in a resilient city full of treasures and possibilities.
Dominance of the City can be found at the Cleveland Public Library Main Branch on the 3rd Floor in the CD Room.”