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 Charles Mott Ware  (1921 - 2005)

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Lived/Active: California/New York      Known for: fantasy and myth themed painting

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Charles M. Ware was born on a ranch in Santa Rosa, CA on April 28, 1921.  Ware was expected by his family to be a farmer, but opted to become an artist.  He won a scholarship to the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute).  His art career was interrupted when he served in the Army during WWII.  Returning to San Francisco, he hung around the Artist’s Club in North Beach where he eked out a living doing portraits. He died in San Francisco on September 9, 2005.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from Enfield Art Consulting:
Charles Mott Ware (1921-2005) found meaning in sources as varied as ancient myths and modern fantasy literature. An artwork might feature a goddess, archangel, medieval knight, unicorn, or a creation of Lord Dunsany or H. P. Lovecraft. These "borrowed" figures joined those of Ware’s own invention. Ware had a particular fascination with Lewis Carroll’s Alice, the inspiration for many works.

The artist was self-taught in many aspects, including printmaking, in which he developed great skill. Ware was not strictly an "outsider" artist, because he had formal training. He attended the California School of Fine Arts (now San Francisco Art Institute) from 1939 to 1942 – and his talents in drawing earned a scholarship. However, Ware mistrusted authority and preferred to find his own way as an artist.

He described himself as a "rustic" and "bum." He also admitted to being a man plagued by demons. Ware fought alcoholism and lived a rough, hand-to-mouth existence through the 1950s and 1960s. He earned money as a sign painter, handyman, and itinerant illustrator. He lived in residential hotels and the basements of bars. He associated with poets, artists, and musicians in the Beat subculture, first in New York's Greenwich Village and then in San Francisco's North Beach.

As he approached his 50th birthday, Ware managed to control his addictions. He was, at last, able to focus on his art – and through his art, to express the images that haunted and obsessed him.

Ware pursued his visions without considering the demands of the market. Nevertheless, he did enjoy public success – particularly in the 1970s, when art in a visionary mode fit with the times. Ware showed in San Francisco galleries. A publisher reproduced works as posters. He was included in exhibitions at regional art centers. Ware's collectors included Robert Bloch, author of science fiction and suspense (best known for Psycho, the basis of the Hitchcock film). After discovering Ware's art, Bloch sought out the artist. The two maintained an active correspondence for many years.

As tastes changed, opportunities to exhibit disappeared. By the 1990s, Ware felt himself to be isolated, misunderstood, even mistreated by the "art world." He found support within a small circle of artist-friends, and sold what work he could to admirers who generally discovered him by word-of-mouth.

Public collections holding works by Charles M. Ware include the New York Public Library and the Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento).

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