Charles Wilder Oakes,Visionary Artist from
 Port Clyde, America


"His father and his mother. . ."

" . . . .Listen. . . .to me. . ."

" . . . .listen. . . . . . ."

". . . when I was young . . . . . ."

". . . I would close my eyes and dream of all of these things. . ."

Charles Wilder Oakes: A Brief Biographical Sketch

The Artist was born in Rockland, Maine, on August 8th 1956, and raised in the near by fishing village of Port Clyde. His father was a life long fisherman, and his mother was a sardine packer at the local canning factory. Generations of the Artist's family have made and continue making their living from the sea.

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 note.

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. 

In 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 elsewhere.

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.

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