Charles Gibbs was born in Berkeley, California, in 1947 and grew up nearby, playing in the hills and fields year round in the mild California climate. His parents introduced him to midcentury modern art with visits to Bay Area museums and galleries, art books at home, and Saturday classes at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. Inspired by the work of Beat-generation artists, he started making sculpture when he was fifteen, soldering and welding junk metal in his father’s home workshop.
Charles attended U.C. Berkeley in the mid-1960s, a time of intense social and political upheaval. He dropped out after a few semesters, worked for a while as a merchant seaman in Alaska, then pursued sculpture full time, but he was careless about his draft status and was soon in the Army, at the height of the Vietnam War. Fortunately, instead dodging bullets in rice paddies he was sent to test chemical weapons in Utah's Great Salt Lake Desert -- a hazardous job in an austerely beautiful environment.
After the Army, Charles returned to the Bay Area and took up sculpture again, but his restless nature led him to join a video production unit that traveled across the U.S. and Europe, documenting the Transcendental Meditation movement and its controversial leader, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The job entailed lengthy stays in Majorca, Italy, the Swiss Alps, Santa Barbara, and Lake Tahoe.
In 1977 Charles returned to California to complete his degree at U.C. Berkeley (where he supplemented his GI Bill benefits by repairing cars), and then earned a master's degree at the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T. He took a job with a Boston publishing company, got married, bought a home, separated, sold the home, got divorced, and by 1987 was sharing an old house west of Boston with a couple of friends.
A prior occupant of the house had apparently been an inventor; the cellar floor was littered with small machine parts. After a hiatus of seventeen years, Charles started making sculpture again, using the trove of junk in the cellar. Within a couple of years, he met and married a painter, Charlotte Andry Gibbs, and they settled in an old farmhouse in Pepperell, Massachusetts. They both have studios in the barn.
Charlotte encouraged Charles to show his work, and in 1999 he quit a perfectly good job to become a fulltime artist. His work has been shown at the Peabody Essex Museum, Fuller Craft Museum, Ohio Craft Museum, Montserrat College of Art, and Copia in Napa Valley; at U.S. embassies in Belgium, Belarus, and Cuba; and at galleries in San Francisco, New Orleans, Florida, and throughout New England. He’s won awards at the Fitchburg Art Museum and Concord Art Association, and the commission for a large weathervane atop the Sharon Arts Center in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His work is in private collections throughout North America and beyond.
"I do two types of work -- stylized animals, birds, and fish, and more abstract pieces that often feature wheels, boat hulls, and house forms. I'm inspired by the natural world, by my dreams and imagination, and by fellow artists.
“Except for a few childhood art classes and a high school crafts class, I have no training as an artist; the techniques I use come from my experience fixing cars and renovating our home. I usually work with found metal -- I love the patinas and distress of the scrap metal I find on the road, and the gears and levers from discarded office machines -- but also use new metal stock (especially for outdoor pieces), and frequently include pieces of wood, bone, and other found materials. I work spontaneously, without drawings or plans, letting the pieces evolve as I assemble them."
I’m a self-taught artist, and have made metal sculpture since 1962, when I was in high school in Northern California. I started working with metal when I was five years old and aspired to be a blacksmith, spending many happy hours shaping nails into tiny weapons in my father's workshop. I've been a full-time artist since 1999, and my work is in private collections throughout North America and beyond.
Juried exhibits and awards (selected list)
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
"Trash Menagerie" 2009-2010; Jane Winchell, curator
Concord Center for the Visual Arts, Concord, Massachusetts
Frances N. Roddy Open Competition, 2001, 2004, 2006-2010, 2012-2014
Members Juried Exhibits, 1994-1997, 1999-2016
1st prize in sculpture, 2009; Larry Powers, juror
1st prize in crafts, 2005; Leslie Brown, juror
1st prize in sculpture, 2003; George Nick, juror
1st prize in sculpture, 1995; Richard Raiselis, juror
Distinguished Artists Exhibit, Best in Show, 1999; Audrey Pepper, juror
"The Group" 1996 group show, Patsy McVity, curator
"Trashformations East" Lloyd Herman, curator
Ohio Craft Museum, Columbus, Ohio, 2007
Copia, Napa, California, 2006
Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, Massachusetts, 2005
Art in Embassies, U.S. Department of State
Brussels, Belgium, 2002-2005
Minsk, Belarus, 2000-2003
Havana, Cuba, 1996-2000
One of twelve artists featured in the 2004 official embassies calendar
Sharon Arts Center, Peterborough, New Hampshire
"With Torch & Mallet"; solo show, 2001
Weathervane commissioned for new building, 2000
"Contemporary Folk Art" 1995; group show
Annual Juried Shows, 1994-2003
Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, Massachusetts
Regional Exhibits of Arts & Crafts, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2015
2nd prize, 1996; 3rd prize, 1997
Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, Massachusetts
"Whimsy of the Spirit" 1993; three-person show, Barbara O'Brien, curator