Charles A. Owens (1922-1997)
Born in 1922 to an opera singer and a saxophone player, Charles A. "Charlie" Owens was recognized for his own artistic talent at an early age. Charlie said the first painting he ever made was a "full color map of the United States" that won him a fifty dollar prize in a school competition when he was just six or seven years old. During Charlie's formative years, visits to the Cincinnati Zoo and church camp meetings were frequent, as well as swims in the Ohio River where his swimming prowess earned him the nickname "fish".
Charlie worked as a delivery person, baker, chef, ice cream maker, U.S. Marine, construction worker, truck driver, bootlegger, and mechanic. Occasionally, time was found to draw and paint, satisfying his compelling artistic drive.
Charlie found that painting "calms your nerves, calms your blood pressure, and takes your mind off things". His work depicts the essence of the world today, his memories of yesterday, as well as visions of our tomorrows with an amazing combination of power, simplicity, and spontaneity.
Charlie Owens moved to Columbus, Ohio from Maysville, Kentucky in 1949 with his wife Frances and their children. Earlier in this century, Columbus was often called a "cow town" because you could find grazing cattle just a few miles from the state capitol building. Undoubtedly, the cultural explosion in Columbus began to experience in the middle of the Twentieth Century was important to Charlie's artistic development: as he said, "I just paint what I've seen. I like to paint history and the Bible, too". It seems appropriate that Charlie Owens would call Columbus home as did Elijah Pierce and William Hawkins, his contemporaries in folk art.
Adapted from a text by Richard H. Miller, courtesy of Ray Bartlett in Springfield, Ohio, who personally knew the artist.
All information courtesy of Georgette S. Drake, Gettes Gallery