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 Charles E. Wadsworth  (1917 - 2002)

About: Charles E. Wadsworth
 

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/Maine/New Jersey      Known for: painting, prints

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Duck & Drake
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Biography as remembered by the artist's wife, Jean G. Wadsworth and submitted by his son Geoffrey

Charles E. Wadsworth (Born March 3, 1917, in Ridgewood, New Jersey; passed away August 21, 2002)
 
He is considered the first of the late 20th century Cranberry Isles artists. Several shows have been mounted on the Maine Coast featuring this group of artists including a show at the Portland Museum of Art Feb 21-June 28 2009. (Geoffrey Wadsworth)

Jean G Wadsworth remembers.
Childhood in Ridgewood, one younger brother.  Two uncles and their families lived near by, influenced his life: older cousin, Ethel, (Pratt Art Institute) encouraged him to draw, took to art shows, and her father, loved the decorative arts; also his other uncle who introduced him to books and reading.

HIGH SCHOOL: Ridgewood High, wrote and drew for school paper, wrote senior play.  Not enough money to go on to college.  On graduation, 1934, like most seventeen year olds, wanted new experiences and get away from home.  One year on a Danish Freighter as cabin boy - saw the world, sort of!

PASSAIC JUNIOR COLLEGE: 1935 & 1936.  Paid way by working in kitchen and dining room.  College not particularly challenging

1937 -1941: Friend introduced him to The AMERICAN PEOPLE'S SCHOOL in the Bronx, NY, based on a Danish plan.  He worked at the school for his room and board, took painting classes from CARL G. NELSON and went to THE ART STUDENTS LEAGUE in New York where he studied with NICOLAIDES for two years and KUNIOSHI for another two years.

DRAFTED before Pearl Harbor 1941 - 1945, Conscientious Objector

MARRIED, Jean G. Howard end of 1945.  Painted and taught adult classes where he could get them, such as The Cambridge Art Ass. Records, reviews and show announcements destroyed in a Warehouse Flood in 1987, no reviews of paintings or shows.

1947, fall, bought land on Cranberry Island and worked through winter (1948) preparing land for house.  1948 and 1949, 6 month summers, built house on Cranberry Isles.  Winter 1949, Boston.  From 1950, summers painting or print making on Cranberry Island.

1949-1950, winter, lived in New York

1950-1951, winter in Mexico

Fall 1951 daughter, Laurie, born; fall 1952, son, Geoffrey born.

MARGARET BROWN GALLERY, Boston, MA, Successful Two Man Show, winter 54/55

ITALY, SIENA, 55/56 Year living, studying and painting art.

BORIS MIRSKI GALLERY: Returned from Italy to find Margaret Brown had died and paintings already at Boris's Gallery.

COMMONWEALTH SCHOOL: 1957, Charles Merrill hired Mr. Wadsworth as Art Teacher the year the school opened.  Taught drawing, painting and print making for 17 years.

BORIS MIRSKI, 59, Show of all Wadsworth Sienese paintings, nearly sold out. Successful shows every other year until Boris died.

SHORE GALLERY: one man show

FRANCIS TAYLOR: Director of Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; moved to Worcester, MA, to direct their Museum of Art and to write; 62/64 bought Wadsworth painting for museum and planned to give him a museum show. Sadly, he died unexpectedly during a routine operation. A great loss to the Art World!

GREECE, Lindos on Rhodes, sabbatical, (64/65) traveling to many ancient sites, 10 months drawing and painting.

ENGLAND, EAST DEAN (72/73), next sabbatical, visiting museums, etc. and painting and became acquainted with Christopher Fry.

In the late sixties became involved in print making, particularly Collograph-Intaglio Prints.  Most galleries did not want to take on artists who were only doing prints, so began a period of a variety of galleries and shows for print makers.  At this time 7 years after his death he is most noted for his print making especially the Collograph-Intaglio technique though he also did many beautiful wood engravings.

The print medium Collograph-Intaglio relates to all other intaglio mediums such as etching, dry point, aquatint and engraving.  The essential difference between it and the other mediums is that the plate is both built up (using a variety of polymer glues and aggregates) and incised, thus arriving at a very rich and varied texture and embossment.  The plate is produced in much the same way as a collage, which is suggested by its name, collograph-intaglio.

In some instances the prints in color were produced by using two plates but for the most part they were inked and wiped in one color and then rolled with another color.  As is true of all intaglio mediums it is less easily controlled than relief mediums such as wood-engraving or wood-cut.  In compensation it has an enormous range and seems peculiarly suited to a person whose bent and training is that of a painter.

Though most of Mr. Wadsworth's working years after the war were concerned with drawing, painting and print making, he had always done some writing, particularly poetry, and ever since a child, when he wrote and illustrated his first book, wanted to combine the two mediums. David Godine & Lance Hidy at their original Godine Press in Brookline, Mass, gave him the chance to pursue this dream.  Published a deluxe limited edition of 110 copies of Views From The Island, 1970, a collection of 39 of Mr. Wadsworth's sonnets about Maine and 15 intaglio prints, all printed by Wadsworth in his Maine Studio.

Mr. Wadsworth produced and illustrated with intaglio prints two more limited edition books: Seed Leaves, poems by Richard Wilbur, 1974, published by David Godine, won a Best Books Award and Root And Sky, Poetry from the plays of Christopher Fry and Prints by Charles E. Wadsworth, 1975, published and printed by Will Carter at The Rampant Lions Press in Cambridge England.

Mr. Wadsworth's attitude towards painting had less and less to do with contemporary art and more to do with a tradition where the abstract is incorporated in the realistic and not enough in itself.  In 1977 we began The Tidal Press.  Our interest was in the whole book: art, literature and design at affordable prices.  During the last sixteen years Mr. Wadsworth's art has flourished in illustrations for his and the books of others, and a group of pastels of his grandchildren.

EXCERPT from, 'SOME AFTERVIEWS', in  VIEWS FROM THE ISLAND:
If you have spent thirty-five years of your life practicing an art and the better part of each year for thirty years on a Maine Island, you're bound to have thought some about both.  You would like more spacious confines than are allowed by verse for a leisurely examination of those thoughts.  Not to ferret out an air-tight theory of art and life (both begin where theory leaves off), but to see whether you have come upon any insights and inklings worth preserving.  In much the same way, you walk a stony beach and spy a few pebbles so simple and so complete yet so allusive in form and design you cannot pass them by.

So far as I know, the only way you can be native to a place is to be born there.  I plead a nativity of the heart.  My attempt has been to see one island through the twin lenses of wonder and delight.  I have made an act of praise using the dual mediums of prints and verse.  Neither delight nor wonder is currently fashionable in the arts. But it takes a svelter figure than mine to turn the intellectual somersaults required if one wants the truth.

The flavor of these pages is by choice insular and personal since everything universal is also insular, and since I have never met a people who was not a person.   The skilled astronomer can move confidently from midnight star to midnight star. That same astronomer might run into some trouble steering from one Maine island to another through the soft deceits of a summer fog.  To have been a painter most of your life isn't necessarily the best preparation for writing poetry.  On the other hand, there is some difference of opinion about the best apprenticeship for either trade.  To speak your mother tongue for sixty years should give you a speaking acquaintance with it.  To decide not only that you will write verse but will write sonnets is a compound presumption.  The novice is warned against the form. In an age that equates innovation with value, the canons of the sonnet are held to be proof of its exhaustion.  But forms are never really exhausted, only those who practice them.  It is just as likely that the avid quest for novelty is a sign of weariness.  Any convention can be formal and empty. Innovations (the new formalities) can also be empty.  Both, if hollow, make a remarkably similar sound when life bumps into them...

Solo Shows:
Margaret Brown Gallery, Boston
Marcal Bruyneel Gallery, Greenwich Connecticut
Boris Mirsky Gallery, Boston
Shore Gallery, Boston
University of Maine, Orono, Maine

Group Shows:
Whitney Museum
Corcoran Biennial
National Gallery
Detroit Art Institute
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
Stanford University
Decordova Museum
Wadsworth Atheneum
Boston Museum of Fine Art
Butler Art Institute
Bates College
Colby College

Prints Shown:
Philadelphia Print Club
Maine Coast Artists, Rockport
Barn Gallery, Ogunquit, Maine
Ainsworth Gallery, Boston Mass.
Cambridge Art Association, Mass
Tanglewood Gallery, NY City
Etchings International, NY City

Prizes:
Boston Art Festival,  1952
Cambridge Art Association, 1954
National Museum of Arts and Letters, 1954
Jordan Marsh Exhibition, 1951

Public Collections:
Munson-Williams-Procter Inst.
Worcester Museum
Fogg Museum-Hofer Purchase
Addison gallery of American Art
Allentown Art Museum
M. H. De Young Memorial Museum
Spelman College
Dartmouth College
Yale University
Bates College
Federal Hospital Louisiana


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