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 Chuck Middlekauff  (20/21st century)

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Lived/Active: Colorado      Known for: pop art painting, western landscape and imagery, cowboy

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Chuck Middlekauf
An example of work by Chuck Middlekauff
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from The Legacy Gallery:
Chuck Middlekauff

Born in Massachusetts and raised as an "Air Force brat," I saw my first real cowboys, ranches and rodeos through the window of our station wagon, while bickering with my two younger sisters in the back seat on cross-country trips to new duty stations.  And I savored our stops at cafes, gas stations, tourist traps and classic motels.  With each transfer and new set of friends, I was the young "director" who passed out cap guns and other props for cowboy and Indian games, inspired by numerous Saturday matinees.  Little did I know that these early experiences would influence my future art career.  As a typical teenager, and still showing no interest in art, I played guitar in garage bands, listened to the Beach Boys and the Beatles, and occasionally skipped school to observe life first hand. 

Upon graduation, I joined the Navy to explore even more of the world.  Shortly after ending my four-year tour of duty I met my wife to be, Carol, in Austin, Texas, where my family had retired.  We married and moved to Colorado, where my ongoing wanderlust also infected Carol. (In our years together we have criss-crossed the United States, Canada and Europe so many times that Carol eventually became a travel writer.)  After a short stint as a draftsman, and still searching for what I wanted to be when I grew up, I used my G.I. Bill benefits to enroll at Metropolitan State College in Denver.  As I changed my major every semester or so, it didn't occur to me to try art until my junior year.  After one elective art class, however, my artistic aptitude surfaced, and I was hooked.  I finished at Metro with a bachelor's degree in fine art.

Then reality set in.  I was convinced that only other people made money as fine artists, so I opted for more schooling and the potential of a real job.  Two years later I graduated with honors in graphic design from Colorado Institute of Art.  I got real jobs as a graphic designer in Denver and Los Angeles, but after four years I grew weary of the commercialized art world and realized I had to leave it behind.  In 1988, determined to make it as a fine artist, I quit my job and began exploring different subjects and styles.  About the same time, our road trips across the American West rekindled feelings from my younger days: the romance of the road, the wide-open spaces and the intense sunlight after a summer thunderstorm.  My affinity for cowboys and their gear, and for rusty windmills, pickup trucks, neon signs, Coke machines and gas pumps, came to life.  I saw that these distinctive artifacts of the West had textures induced by weathering and years of hard use that could be exciting to reproduce.  I also found that, more than any other medium I explored, watercolors and acrylics portrayed the essence of the West -- the vivid hues, the textures, the light and shadows, the mood and character.  I had found my direction, my medium and my passion.

Along the back roads of the West, I often linger in small towns or at fairs and rodeos to capture images in my camera and in my mind.  Then back in the studio, I crank up music ranging from Alan Jackson to the Beach Boys, the Beatles to John Mellencamp, and create paintings that proclaim my theme, "Ain't That America." By combining the past with the present, and by adding touches of humor, nostalgia and sentimentality, I reveal my unique vision of the West.

Carol and I thank God for His saving grace through Jesus Christ, and we thank Him for our talents, and we're trying not to disappoint Him.  This artist's life isn't always easy, but I get to live my dream, thanks to gallery owners, collectors and everyone who encourages me to keep painting (especially Carol, my biggest fan).  I also appreciate other artists, past and present, whose work I constantly study and learn from. Besides glorifying God, my reason for working is connecting with people, through my paintings, which I show in fine galleries throughout the West, and in person at numerous one-man shows.  I also like to help others as I go along and have donated paintings to such fund-raisers as the American Cancer Society's Cowtown Ball in Fort Worth, Texas, the Cattle Baron's Ball in Lubbock, Texas, to the Rotary Club's Diamonds and Spurs Auction in Boulder, Colorado and to the Autry Museum in Los Angeles, California. My paintings have hung in Ralph Lauren's New York furniture showrooms, and they hang permanently in private and corporate collections across the U.S. and Europe.

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