Artist Profile: Charles Wysocki

The late artist Charles Wysocki became well known for his detailed pieces of American folk art, notable farm scenes, and a unique primitive style that was all his own. At Sturbridge Yankee Workshop, we are pleased to welcome this artist’s work, with a new framed print by Charles in our fall 2012 catalog. Yesterday July 29th, marked the 10 year anniversary of his death. Today, we celebrate this talented artist. Let’s take a look below.

Artist Charles Wyscoki lived a full life amongst his exciting lifestyle, his family and friends. Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1928, he actually was inspired to be an artist from a very young age. While his father who worked at Ford Motor Co. on the assembly line was more hesitant in his support, Charles’s mother fully backed his artistic ventures. He went on to focus on the art program at Cass Technical High School. For a brief time before being drafted in 1950 during the Korean War, he had the opportunity to apprentice for Detroit Art Studios. After a two year tour of duty in the U.S. Army, Charles was excited to begin his studies at the Art Center in Los Angeles, California (now in Pasadena). Completing a major in advertising illustration and design, in 1955 he joined the staff at McNamera Brothers, based in Detroit. Mr. Wysocki grew restless of being away from the west coast howver, and in 1959 he and three other artists formed the advertising agency, Group West. His career as a freelance artist had never been better and commercial artwork was his primary focus.

While living and working in Los Angeles, he received numerous awards, and also met his wife, Elizabeth, who was an artistic individual working at an ad agency as well. Elizabeth had grown up on a farm and Charles became instantly drawn to the simplicity and American values instilled in such a lifestyle; this is considered by his family to be a turning point for Charles’s artistic style. After marrying in 1960, the newlyweds traveled often to the east coast. Vacationing in such places as Martha’s Vineyard, Vermont, Boston and Maine. The primitive and Early American artist was emerging within him, and while his commercial work proved successful, it was time to make a change. During the 1960’s Charles and Elizabeth had three children, David, Millicent, and Matthew. Charles supported his family on the original paintings he sold. The next 20-30 years would bring much achievement working with companies who transferred his work to greeting cards, calendars and more. He also toured the country, making personal appearances at a variety of art galleries.

Charles Wysocki received the highest medal of honor from the National Society Daughter’s of the American Revolution. In addition, he published two books, “An American Celebration” in 1985 and “Heartland” in 1993. Later into the 1990’s, he opened his own gallery in what was now the family’s hometown, Lake Arrowhead. He even had the privilege to paint for and attend the White House during their Independence Day celebration in 1981; the painting by Charles Wysocki may still hang there today. Artwork he created in his later life, is said by those who know him to be some of his best work, and were all made into canvas transfers or limited edition prints.

Selling brooms, brushes and barrels, Beny Jeremiah has his work cut out for him on this bustling day at the farm. In our Mr. Swallowbark Print shown above, we receive a glimpse into the everyday life of the swallowbark and the happenings within this small village. A horse drawn carriage draws our eyes in, to see the amazing details originally painted by the great, Charles Wysocki.

~Be looking for more prints by this artist in our holiday 2012 catalog.

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