Charles Wildbank, artist

20 02 2010

I met artist Charles Wildbank through my friend Mike Royer, who is a member of HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America). I design and produce the Hearing Loss Magazine for HLAA and photographed Mike, Alicia and my friend Sue for the cover of the March/April 2008 issue (see that cover in this posting here). I’ve also photographed the Royer family in my studio and had the honor of photographing their third child, Ashley Jocelyn, coming into the world. You can see those photos in my postings: Meet the Royers; And baby girl makes five…; Annie & Joshua; Welcome to the world, Ashley Jocelyn;  and Introducing Ashley Jocelyn.

Mike knows we’re always on the lookout for interesting people who have hearing loss, so he recommended Charles for a future feature article. Charles wears hearing aids and received a cochlear implant in late 2009. I’m happy to report that Charles and I are online friends now and chat often through Facebook, discussing art techniques and materials, photography, camera gear, Photoshop, marketing our work, and life in general. I plan to drive up to North Fork, Long Island, to interview and photograph Charles for the magazine sometime this year. (Above: Charles works on a painting from his Hado series)

A prolific painter, Charles averages one or two large paintings a month and works in oil and acrylic. He does a lot of sketching on his computer with an electronic tablet, and paints with his laptop next to the easel for reference. He uses paintbrushes, applicators, squeeze bottles, detailing pens, rollers, soaking rags and drip techniques. His paintings range from 36″ minimum up to 20 feet—“the bigger the better for me—for my best expression,” he says.

Charles is currently working on a demonstration painting “performance” video that will be posted on youtube.com and vimeo.com. View a video he recently created about his painting, Luvin’ Wave, here. Check out his website at www.wildbank.com. He has been interviewed by many publications, including Fine Art Magazine, Dan’s Papers, Southampton Press, the Los Angeles Times, and others. You can read those interviews on his website here. To download his 41-page e-book, click here: WildbankEbookprint.

Some of my favorite Wildbanks paintings are from his still life series. In an interview with Dan’s Papers, he said, “Although I create large-scale subjects for my murals and commissions, I wind up interspersing my still life series with vignettes of the simple pleasures in life, such as the cup of capuccino.”

Excerpted from www.deafnotes.com:
Charles, a Long Island native, is the eldest of nine children and congenitally profoundly deaf. He was fitted with a hearing aid at age two and has a brother who is deaf and another who is hard of hearing. When he was nine years old, with the support and nurturing of his parents and grandmother, he began painting. He later attended Yale, Pratt and Columbia, graduating with honors. In 1979, Wildbank’s first exhibit at Bonwit Teller created a sensation on Fifth Avenue, with a giant sparkling rendering of the famed Cartier diamond. He had just left his position after seven years of teaching the deaf. Deciding to continue painting, he discovered that other artists were exhibiting their art in the store windows of Fifth Avenue, thought he would give it a try, and was quite successful. Soon after, he walked into a neighboring Cartier store and inquired about their windows. Three years later they gave him an entire salon upstairs, where he painted the seven foot tall painting of the Cartier diamond.

Excerpted from www.wildbank.com:

Born and raised on Long Island, Charles Bourke Wildbank drew and painted since age 4 as his prime means of communication, as he was born deaf. In an interview with Hamptons.com, Charles said, “When I was younger, drawing took the place of speaking when I couldn’t find the words. Painting or drawing was something I developed because I remember admiring the graffiti in the neighborhood. I loved to draw and found myself drawing my other hand. It developed into drawing a hand holding a ball, earth, or a pencil, sort of like the artist Escher. Art was never a means to escape; it was either a communication or even a dance, showing my skill.”

He took art classes on Saturdays with the encouragement of his family and found himself earning scholarships to Pratt Institute and Yale University where he majored in Fine Art and Photography. He delved into photorealism while at Pratt Institute, created a sensation on Fifth Avenue with a giant sparkling rendering of the famed Cartier diamond, and has painted portraits of David Hockney and the late Luciano Pavarotti. In his Hamptons.com interview, he said, “Growing up, I despaired over being able to sing and yet not hear the notes enough to discern the pitches. I can only get the melody and nuances of music with my hearing aid. I deeply love music but have transcended that with my love for color and light.” He is well known for his versatility of a wide range of figurative themes including florals, still life, portraits and seascapes. Read the full Hamptons.com interview here. (Left: Charles with his painting, Sedona)

His latest achievements include two 18-foot-high murals commissioned by the Cunard Line for the new luxury ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2. The murals depict cliffs and coastal scenes of England and America. Though the murals were applied with paint, Wildbank made extensive use of digital and photographic technology in his sketch preparations.

Wildbank is listed with some of his works in the book, Deaf Artists in America: Colonial to Contemporary, by Deborah Sonnenstrahl. He conducted workshops in Poppi, Italy during fall of 2002, and in Giverny, France during spring of 2006. View his art chronology here.

Up to present day, observable form and vivid color have long been attributed to Wildbank’s art. His recent works appear to flirt with the abstract and the surreal christened as his HADO series. His studio in Jamesport is now open to the public by appointment.

ideafnews.com recently interviewed Charles at his home in North Fork. You can view that captioned video below.

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“Four by 4” at Gallery West

13 01 2009

FourXFour LogoOn Saturday evening Michael, Regina, Karen, and Joe and I attended the opening reception of the “Four by 4” show at Gallery West on King Street. Regina’s husband, Jeff, was one of the four artists in this collaborative exhibit. Founded in 1979, Gallery West is an artist’s cooperative gallery located at 1213 King Street in Alexandria, Virginia. The “Four by 4” show runs from January 7 through February 1. All photography © Cindy Dyer.

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The Four x 4 artists, left to right: Parisa Tirna, Susan La Mont, Karen Waltermire, and Jeff Evans.

From the Gallery West website:

PARISA TIRNA is an emerging self taught landscape artist whose contemplative canvases evoke the classic landscapes of the 19th century. This is her first gallery show. See more of Parisa’s work at www.parisaart.blogspot.com and on the Gallery West website.

SUSAN LA MONT has a B.F.A. in art from Pratt Institute, a M.A. in illustration from Syracuse University, and a Doctor of Arts from George Mason University in higher education with a focus on art. She has won several awards and her sharply drawn realistic paintings can be found in numerous private and corporate collections. See more of Susan’s work at www.susanlamont.com and on the Gallery West website. You can watch her work on one of her paintings in a video I found here on the Artistic Type website.

KAREN WALTERMIRE studied art for several years before striking out on her own to develop a unique whimsical drawing style. She has been in several group shows in the D.C. area and was previously a member of Spectrum Gallery. See more of Karen’s work at www.inkonly.blogspot.com and on the Gallery West website.

JEFFERSON EVANS is a self taught photographer who focuses on travel, nature and fine art images. He is a member of the Northern Virginia Photographic Society and the Springfield Art Guild. His work has been in numerous juried shows, exhibitions and publications. See more of his work at www.evansimagesandart.com, on the Springfield Art Guild‘s website, and on the Gallery West website. Jeff also contributed his beautiful Monarch chrysalis photographs for a poster I designed for the Happy Tonics Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, Wisconsin. You can see that poster here. The “Monarch emerging” photos are also used in the nameplate of the quarterly newsletter, Butterflies & Gardens, that I design and produce for Happy Tonics.

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Parisa started painting as a non-objective abstract painter until her first landscape experiment showed her the rewarding spirit of nature and brought her to the world of landscape art. Her paintings are inspired by American East Coast lushness of trees and fields of wildflowers and create a feeling of open space and reverie.

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Susan La Mont’s narrative realistic style connects with viewers and encourages them to examine the details and speculate about the scenes she portrays. Susan’s work has been acquired by over 30 private and corporate collections.

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Karen Waltermire draw portraits of imaginary people in pen and ink based on people she sees, architecture, and her imagination. Her style is modern, edgy and spirited—with a sense of humor thrown in.

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Travel throughout Europe, as well as his wife’s love of gardening, has greatly influenced Jefferson Evans’ photographic eye. His images capture everything from broad vistas to lively street scenes to dewdrops on a single blade of grass. His subjects range from floral ephemeral to human transitional—from one moment to the next—from vivid colors to classic monochrome to evocative infrared. Above: Jeff and his wife, Regina

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Above: Jeff with Leda (a friend from our neighborhood and also one of my “Weedettes” in the Garden Club) and Leda’s friend, Anna (right), who coincidentally was one of Michael’s co-workers when he worked for the City of Alexandria. Anna worked as a graphic designer for the City and is now a freelance photographer.

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And from Jeff’s ‘hood, a rousing show of support—Michael, Regina, Karen and Joe. Some other neighbors and friends in attendance were Tom, Holly, Mike, Janet, Bill, Jeannie and Dan—and other supporters I met but whose names escape me. Michael, Tom, Holly, Karen, and Joe and I gathered for a wonderful Italian dinner across the street at Pines of Florence after the reception. (Kudos to the gallery and the artists—they provided a plethora of things to eat and drink—best food offering of any gallery reception I’ve ever been to!)

A SHORT STROLL DOWN (BLOG) MEMORY LANE: Back in December 2007 I posted a photo I shot of Jeff in front of his winning entry at a Huntley Meadows photo contest on my “One photo every day” blog. I wrote about Regina’s garden (which is one of Jeff’s inspirations) in September 2007. I posted a sweet photo of Regina with one of their three cats, Dusty, this past May. This past June I photographed Tom’s beautiful farm and two of the creatures I came aross—a beautiful Widow Skimmer dragonfly and a hungry White Death Spider. You’ll find those three postings here. And in April 2008 I wrote about Karen’s memorial garden to honor her mother.

Remember, the show runs until February 1, so if you’re a local resident (or traveling in the area during this time), stop by Gallery West to see the exhibit. Gallery West is open from Wednesday through Sunday. From January to March, hours are 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. From April to December, hours are 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Other hours are available by appointment.

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Jeff and I often go on short photo field trips. One of our favorite local places is Green Spring Gardens, where Jeff photographed his gorgeous pink poppies photo! Here are some of my photos from our field trips:

Green Spring Gardens
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/08/07/in-bloom-at-green-spring-gardens/
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/05/18/glorious-poppies/
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/07/31/wordless-wednesday/
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/05/18/love-in-a-mist/
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/05/18/a-day-of-bliss/
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/08/31/honorine-jobert/

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2007/07/22/kenilworth-gardens-7222007/
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/07/20/worth-standing-in-the-july-heat-for/
http://www.cindydyer.com/KenilworthGardens/

Brookside Gardens
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/brookside-gardens-2/
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/09/05/wings-of-fancy/

U.S. Botanic Garden
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/03/13/in-my-heaven/
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/03/11/us-botanic-garden/