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Charles Ward (1900 - 1962) Returns to Bucks County

 

This summer of 2004 Charles Ward (1900 - 1962) will return to Bucks County, his home for more than thirty years, in a new exhibition of works exploring the diversity of his prodigious output. The Studio of Ben Solowey announces a new exhibition, simply titled "Charles Ward", which will reveal the versatility of this unique artist. The exhibition will open to the public on Sunday June 6th at the Solowey Studio in Bedminster, PA with a reception from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The installation will continue Saturdays and Sundays, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., through June 28, 2004. (right: Charles Ward (1900 ­ 1962), Apple Tree, oil on canvas, 28 x 32 inches)

"Charles Ward is an artist whose works and life deserve to be better known," say David Leopold, the Director of the Studio of Ben Solowey. "He is a part of the Impressionist tradition, but he goes beyond that. In many ways he is a bridge between Impressionism and Modernism in the region. We welcome him home." Ward's work has recently been featured in exhibitions at the James A. Michener Art Museum in both Doylestown and New Hope.

"Ward excelled at the landscape, the lingua franca of both artists and collectors of this area," explains Leopold. "But he was just as interested in the people in the landscape. There is a humanity in Ward's work that is unlike anything else I have seen." Ward first came to prominence for his WPA murals for the Trenton Post Office. These were the first post office murals in the country, and soon he was commissioned for more. After spending several years creating works that can still be seen today, he turned from the heroic to the personal, capturing the scenes and people around his home in Carversville, Pennsylvania. "Instead of turning out local genre scenes, he works reveal the universal nature of everyday life," according to Leopold.

"Like his friend and contemporary Ben Solowey, Ward explored a wide variety of media including oils, watercolor, pastel, and printmaking. His monotypes are remarkable for their vivid colors and quiet majesty," continues Leopold. "Like Solowey, his work defies easy categorization."

In addition to the outstanding collection of Ward paintings, drawings, and prints, there will be a new installation of Solowey works in Solowey's handcrafted studio, including a newly restored self portrait from 1925 and an undated portrait circa 1930s of Solowey's favorite model, his wife Rae. "For those familiar with his beautiful 1935 portrait of Rae hanging at the Michener Museum, this work presents a more casual pose and dress, yet it still possesses a stunning intensity," says Leopold.

Visiting the exhibition "you understand why Ben gave up the great life he had in New York in the theater and exhibiting his canvases at the top museums and galleries," explains Leopold. "He wanted to live on this beautiful farm where his studio maintains the atmosphere of the artist at work." The inviting studio, and the 34 acre property it sits on, were created and landscaped by Solowey after he left New York in 1942. The Studio has been featured in Architectural Digest, Pennsylvania Heritage, The Discerning Traveler, and Bucks County Town and Country Living .

 

About Charles Ward

Charles William Ward was born in Trenton, New Jersey, on January 24, 1900, the son of a machinist. Ward began taking courses in the evening at the School of Industrial Arts in 1916 while working in factory. From 1924 until 1926, he was at the school on a full-time basis. From 1926 through 1931 Ward was a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. There he won the Thompson Prize for Composition; the Lea Award for Draughtsmanship; and, in 1930, the Cresson European Traveling Scholarship, which enabled him to go abroad and study in Great Britain, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland.

In 1932 he moved to Carversville, Pennsylvania, where he maintained a studio there for thirty years until his death. He drew his inspiration from the surrounding scene there, and from painting trips to Mexico, the first in 1939, and the second, with his family, in 1954.

In 1935, he made history when he executed the first Post Office mural under the Public Works of Art Project, "Progress of Industry" for the Trenton Post Office. In 1937 he completed two others for the same building, entitled "Rural Delivery", and "The Second Battle of Trenton". In 1938 his mural "Cotton Picking" was installed in the Roanoke Rapids Post Office in North Carolina. Despite controversy that the work was too respectful of African Americans, the mural remained. Although he had studies for other WPA murals, he turned from the public to the personal in his work.

Ward's easy versatility in oils, watercolors, drawing and printmaking, have drawn comparisons to Goya, Daumier, Rivera, Reginald Marsh, and Daniel Garber, but each work bears his personal stamp of integrity. His work is in a number of public collections including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the James A. Michener Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the New Jersey State Museum.

In 1958 one writer summed up the feeling for Ward's work. "In a time when success is often measured in terms of material goods and incomprehensibility sometimes seems an end in itself, the simple life and the clear, straightforward statements of artist Charlie Ward seem out of place. For here is work that touches at the very heart of life, dealing with the simple things, the ordinary, the everyday, bringing to them an understanding rare in a day when neuroses are the norm and shock value is more important than good painting."

Charles Ward died of a heart attack in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 7, 1962 after picking up a work from an exhibition.

 

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About the Studio of Ben Solowey

The Studio of Ben Solowey, located in historic Bucks County at 3551 Olde Bedminster Road, Bedminster, PA, 18901, is a family-run organization whose purpose is to preserve and promote the works of Ben Solowey (1900-1978) and also host other special exhibitions.

Maintenance of and activities at the Studio are funded primarily through admission fees and the sale of artwork. Please contact the Studio for admission fees and hours.


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