Chuck paints on wood. Sometimes he uses paper, which comes from wood, but mostly he works on thick, pale panels made of birch. Some of them are small enough to be handheld. Others are so large they could be mistaken for walls, and he heaves and slides these around his studio with chest-puffing exertion. He lays panels on the floor so he can pour liquids that accrete in a thin meniscus on their wooden surfaces. If he wants to paint outside the studio, he'll strap a panel to the roof of his Volvo station wagon, drive out to Rockaway Beach, and set himself up to work alfresco. The painted canvas is often described as a window; For Chuck, the wood panel is a roof, wall, and ceiling.
When he works, he puts the paint onto the wood with brush and hands. If he doesn't have gloves, he uses bare fingers and the pigment gets trapped under his nails for days. Even when he scrubs his hands feverishly with corn oil, the color stays put. Sometimes he'll make a painting in 2 hours, slathering on translucent textures that echo the whorling wood grain beneath the gesso, hues ranging from romantic, demonic maroon to thick, frosting-like applications of periwinkle.
When he's finished, the images look like portraits and landscapes, a form of abstraction that remains connected to the physical world, governed by gravity. They often appear architectural, as houses upon undulating earth. Sometimes they're figures. He resists the term characters - preferring the more open-ended term "souls" - but embraces the possibility of narrative, and uses the words, "whip-tail" and doingle" to describe the ornamentations that flutter around his souls. Recently he's become compelled by a particular soul: a small octagonal shape with an ocular hole at its bellybutton that he stacks and bends, leans and constellates. It appears in almost every drawing and painting he makes.
The wood that surrounds Chuck is his home. He coats it with the full-armed technique of mural painting, something he was involved with for six years in the Barnstormers collective. He makes work near constantly - along the side of the highway, sitting the gallery during his exhibitions, or in a hotel room, where he recently got evicted and escorted from the premises for spilling paint on the desk and floor. When not creating, he is hungrily looking: at art in galleries or in the monographs stuffed into shelves of his studio at home. He curates often. Recently, he packed a gallery with small drawings by Picabia, Richard Tuttle, Mary Heilman and countless others. Soon, he will fill a space with devotional art by contemporary artists.
The works in this show by William Hawkins, Martin Ramirez, Marsden Hartley, and Thornton Dial resonate with Chuck's sturdy, wooden, structural approach, and all of them have served as inspiration for his own paintings.He refers to these artists as "heroes," and he has spent considerable time poring over their works. They are his shelter. They are the foundation and building within which he constructs his own images. Under the roof of this gallery, his works and the work of his artistic architects can cohabitate.
See the show Here.