Port Clyde has always been a
community known for self-reliance and rugged individualism. Such gifted artists as Robert
Henri, Rockwell Kent, and
three generations of the N. C. Wyeth family, have all come to Port Clyde on their way out
to Monhegan Island, or else settled nearby. The fact that Andrew Wyeth was often
seen sketching or
painting around town was not lost on the young artist. His uncle,
Walter Anderson, was
one of Andrew Wyeth's closest friends, and also one of Wyeth's most painted subjects of
The painter William Thon, a respected contemporary of Andrew Wyeth (and of whom Andrew Wyeth once said: "If you think my watercolors are good you should see
Bill Thon's " ), settled here in the 1940s. Thon, who passed away
in 2000 at the age of 94, maintained a close mentorly interest in Oakes'
work over the course of many years.
Charles Wilder Oakes takes the long view of his artistic accomplishments in the light of being
pretty much an artistic maverick, not so much by choice, but out of conviction. It has been
said his artistic heritage is derived to some degree from Folk Art and Niave traditions, Art Brut,
and some might postulate, the so-called "Outsider Art" venue. A case could be made that he
is also a visionary artist; he is certainly an artist of vision, continually reaching
with-in to do the soul work, so that he can reach out once again with his paintings to his audience. Oakes
himself isn't all that inclined to be catagorized. He has been drawing ever since he can
remember, and is primarily self-taught.
All of that aside, what it comes down to is
whenever Oakes puts his brush to canvas or panel or paper, he chooses to paint only the
people, places, and things, he genuinely loves.
This commitment to artistic integrity is what those who follow and
collect his work have come to expect of the artist, who has steadfastly
followed his soulful muse for over 35 years. His paintings are
appealing because they are a blend of both the niave and the lyrically
sophisticated at the same time.
In a "typical" Oakes painting you will
find all the memorable symbols of his childhood and seafaring heritage " down to Port Clyde."
You will find, the main street, the back roads, the Port Clyde
General Store, the Baptist and Advent churches, and of course the wharfs, boats, and
fishing shanties -- the "working waterfront" of Port Clyde.
You'll also often encounter his friends, his family, and all of his beloved "Own Ones" , as
well as all the domestic and wild creatures he "daydreamed" about and has since
transformed into such memorable paintings as "The Bears in The Village" (1981), and
"Wolfs (sic) at the Door" (1989), "Dreams on the Way Home" (1995) "Our
Town"(2003), and "Night Air," 2006.
. . I grew up here and I'll be damned, but there's nothing like it.
There's nothing on EARTH, like the smell of the SEA . . .and on a fine
spring morning, in the fog and the rain, it's like having heaven open .
The Artist has exhibited his work
extensively in Maine including with the Portland Museum of Art, Farnsworth Art
Museum, Hobe Sound Galleries, The University of Maine,
The State House In Augusta, Bowdoin College, Icon Gallery in Brunswick, "Maine Coast
Artists" / Center for Maine Contemporary Art, The Barn Gallery in Ogunquit, and in the
greater Portland area with Congress Square Gallery, Gallery 127, Davidson and Daughters
Contemporary Art, The Eastland Gallery, Aucocisco Gallery, June Fitzpatrick Gallery,
and with numerous other fine art galleries up and down the coastline. His solo "Home
Coming" show in 2003 with Gallery-By-the-Sea, in Port Clyde, (in which he exhibited not
only his art work but also his writings and poetry culled from his sketchbooks), was in
every measure, a resounding success.
January of 2005 Oakes showed at The Washington Museum's "ArtVIEW 2005",
in which he sold all three of his paintings, and in January 2006 he
made his New York City debut, courtesy of Margaret Bodell, and showing
at Sanford Smith's 14th annual international "Outsider Art Fair", in
which he realized record prices for his art works.
He had his first one man show in
NYC in January 2007, at Bodell~Fahey Gallery and showed once again in
the Outsider Art Fair, 2007. Both were successful venues and the artist
is back in his studio waiting pending news on his next shows in NYC and
The Artist's oils, watercolors, and painted wood constructions are represented in
more than four hundred private collections here in the United States and abroad.
In speaking with the artist, he will
casually tell you, that he is "most very proud" to say he has "sold nearly everything he has ever painted."
Oakes maintains his home and studio
in another quiet mid-coast fishing community, still in the township of St. George, not at
all too far from his familiars, old haunts and inspiration.
REVISIT: Biographical Sketch.
Learn More About: Charles Wilder Oakes
E-mail the Artist
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