A Regionalist and a Modernist, a Midwesterner and a Southwesterner
Charles W. Thwaites: Reviving a Life and Building a Legend
Charles Thwaites Blanket Motif, 1959
He moved thru periods of academically inspired realism as seen in his ability to draw the human body, the Rural Regionalism of the Midwest, WPA murals, and especially after his move to New Mexico, abstraction and nonobjective paintings that hold their own when compared to other Modernists of his generation. As he evolved he showed his skills and talents, rarely if ever turning out a poorly considered or executed painting. He was a Regionalist and a Modernist, a Midwesterner and a Southwesterner.
Because Charles moved to the Southwest permanently in the early 1950’s, his name has not been kept alive here in Wisconsin, but once he was clearly among the very best artists in our state with a reputation that extended beyond our region. He had exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago several times beginning in 1930, the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts, the National Exhibition of American Art in Rockefeller Center, Un. of Minnesota, the Great Lakes Exhibition in Buffalo, a Biennial Exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery, the 1939 World’s Fair, American Federation of Arts, New York, and many important exhibits in Wisconsin. There are many credits, accounts, and his own thoughtful statements in the McGarry book which has over 100 images of his work and the chronicle of his life.
The exhibit at the Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, ran from July 16 thru September 7, and copies of the Thwaites book can still be acquired there. As a result of seeing the body of work shown at the MWA, it is this writer’s opinion that Charles Thwaites must be considered equal or superior to other WI artists who in retrospect have been recognized as our state’s most important cultural treasures.