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 J. Charles McCullough, II  (1920? - 2013)

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Lived/Active: Florida/Ohio      Known for: large format photography, watercolor and oil painting

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Charlie  McCullough, II
An example of work by J. Charles McCullough, II
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Artist's Obituary from the Fort Myers News-Press paper.

Moments of life: Photographer's death leaves void on Sanibel
Charlie McCullough chronicled island life

Jun. 8, 2013

When Charlie McCullough died last month at 90, Sanibel lost a treasured link to its past.

Since the 1930s, McCullough had waited, watched and captured island people and places with his large-format black-and-white photos that became a singular visual archive of the barrier island in the 20th century.

Artist and friend JoAnne Bedient called his death “the end of a generation,” and indeed, his work spanned two centuries.

An Ohio native, McCullough started taking pictures in the early 1930s. He liked to say he picked up a camera when he was 13, and then never put it down. Fortunately for the region, he had it firmly in hand whenever his family came to Sanibel.

Along with six other Cincinnati businessmen, Charlie’s grandfather, who ran a seed company, built a bayfront fishing retreat nicknamed “The Club House” on Woodring’s Point in 1908. With a dock stretching into Tarpon Bay, wide second-story views of the water and pioneering fisher folk for neighbors, it was paradise for a young photographer.

McCullough was especially taken with widowed fishing guide Esperanza Woodring, and his shots of her piloting boats, flinging cast nets or baking biscuits on a wood stove have become island icons. He also photographed the island itself: pelicans perched on listing pilings, mud flats at low tide, the lighthouse just before a summer storm.

During the Great Depression, the McCullough family bought out the other partners in The Club House, and it remained the family’s vacation home until Charlie retired from a career selling seeds and sailboats. He and Ann moved there permanently in the 1970s.

Over the years, he mostly used a Hasselblad medium-format camera with black-and-white film, though in later years, he experimented with color and digital photo editing.

A mainstay of the island’s Tower Gallery, where a number of his prints are still for sale, McCullough also exhibited in other venues, including a one-man show at the Southwest Florida Museum of History in 2005.

“He had all the history in his head,” Bedient says, “(And) fortunately, also on paper in his photographs.”

Charlie McCullough is survived by sons Trimble, Charlie III and Robert Hall. His wife, Ann, died in 2010 and he will be buried next to her in Cincinnati. Plans for a memorial service are pending.

Submitted by George Lee.


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
J. Charles "Charlie" McCullough II, aka Charlie McCullough of Sanibel Island, FL was a well known photographer and painter. He passed away in 2013. His media were primarily large format photography, watercolor paintings and some oil paintings.

Originally from Cincinatti, Ohio,  Charlie was from a well to do family that ran a seed business in the Cincinatti area for many years.

In his youth he attended Cal Kowal's photography courses at the Cincinatti Art Academy, attended workshops with Canadian born Craig Stevens in Maine, New Mexico and two sessions in Provence, France.  He studied lighting with Doug Merriam in Santa Fe, color with Kip Brundage and Liz Opalenik, intensive Black and White photo printing with John Sexton; and portraits with Arnold Newman. Charlie accepted many assignments from Polly Matsumoto (Polly Adamson who married Ikki Matsumoto).

Charlie began his lifelong passion for photography while in High School in Cincinatti and continued photography while at Cornell University. During College he joined the 10th Mountain division. He married his wife Ann (also an artist), had a family while working in the family business of agriculture and sailboat sales, Always capturing history with his photographs along the way.

Charlie moved to his grandfather's home, built in 1908, on Sanibel Island, FL in the 1970's. He found great inspiration in the natural beauty of the island and photographed neighbor and Sanibel Resident Esperanza Woodring in many of his well known island photographs.

Charlie spent over 70 years capturing images. He attended 32 Elderhostals in 6 different countries. He volunteered at S.C.C.F., C.R.O.W., and the Sanibel Historical Society.

Written and submitted by George Lee

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