Charles Marchant Stevenson

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Charles Marchant Stevenson (August 29, 1927 – August 30, 2004) was an American artist, born to Mildred and Charles Marchant Stevenson II [1] in Washington, D.C.

Early years[edit]

Stevenson spent his early years at his family home in Maryland. He was awarded a scholarship to the adult school of the Corcoran Academy of Fine Art in Washington, D.C., which he attended from 1938 until 1945 [1][2] when, immediately after his eighteenth birthday, Stevenson enlisted in the United States Navy.[1][2] In the Navy Stevenson worked on service publications, as illustrator for All Hands and as art director for Naval Training and Training Bulletin.[1][2][3] After his tour of duty, Stevenson studied in Philadelphia, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the University of Pennsylvania.[1][2][3]

Stevenson's early jobs included church window design at the Paine-Speyers stained glass company, work as an attendant and art therapist in a mental hospital and as an advertising artist for several department stores.[2] In 1954 Stevenson moved from the East Coast to San Francisco. There he worked for the advertising agency Wyatt & Welch for several years before leaving for a free-lance work as a muralist and portrait painter.[1][2] From 1957 to 1961, Stevenson ran Stevenson Graphics, a San Francisco advertising agency with ten commercial artists.[1][3]

Examples of Stevenson's artwork from this period include "Charles Marchant Stevenson: Self Portrait" (1960) and '"The Goat Lady's House"(1960), a painting of Lyford House, Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary., built in the 1870s, now a Registered Historical Landmark, part of the Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary and open to the public.

Mendocino[edit]

Stevenson closed Stevenson Graphics in 1961 and left San Francisco for the village of Mendocino, California which he made his home until his death.[3][4] Of his radical change in location and lifestyle, Stevenson said, "Years ago a fortuneteller told me that I had a chance to remake my entire life and I said, 'What I'd really like is to find someplace like Carmel or Monterey was when all the artists and writers were there' and she said, 'Mendocino!'" [1][2][5]

Just arrived in Mendocino, Stevenson phoned artist Dorr Bothwell who introduced him to Mendocino Art Center founders Bill and Jennie Zacha;[6] that night the Zachas fed Stevenson dinner and rented him a studio behind their house. To earn money, at first Stevenson did architectural drafting for Bill Zacha, then worked part-time at several local restaurants.[1][7] Subsequently, Bill Zacha offered Stevenson a position teaching at the Mendocino Art Center where Stevenson taught for almost forty years.[1][5] In addition, Zacha represented Stevenson at Zacha's Bay Window Gallery.[1][8]

Media[edit]

For his large work, Stevenson preferred acrylic paint, sometimes on canvas or canvas board, but more often on wood or masonite panels,[1] which he prepared for painting with a ground of gessoed cheesecloth, a technique Stevenson developed painting for theatre.[9] Referring to Stevenson's paintings, Maureen Eppstein wrote, "In some the richness of texture is enhanced by the surface under the paint, layers of gesso and loosely woven cheesecloth..." [10] In addition to acrylics, Stevenson worked in serigraphy, watercolor, gouache and pen and ink drawing.[11]

Portraits[edit]

Initially, Charles Marchant Stevenson's work focused on his distinctive multiple-image portraits,[7][12] for example "Bata Bheag: Portrait of Irving S. Shapiro" (1968), "Mendocino Shepherd: Portrait of Thorkild Thompson" (1967) and "Dorr" (1964), Stevenson's portrait of Dorr Bothwell at work in her Mendocino studio.

Although Stevenson always painted portraits, in the early 1970s Stevenson became more selective in accepting commissions and began to focus on other genres; his interests were wide and most are reflected in his subject matter.[1][12][13]

Golden Ratio & "Sparles"[edit]

Stevenson based his compositions on the golden ratio,[1][12][13][14] first referred to by Leonardo da Vinci as the secto aurea (golden section). Leonardo's line drawings of the five Platonic solids illustrate Luca Pacioli's book La Divina Proportione (1509). One of Stevenson's reference books on the subject was Elements of Dynamic Symmetry by Jay Hambidge.

Stevenson's post-1961 work often included dynamic fractures inspired by Pythagoras' "theory of spiraling forms, serial dynamic symmetry" [15] patterns which Stevenson says compose "the webwork of energy that extends everywhere.",[1][12][13][15] illustrated in "Apotheosis of the Working Man" (1993), "As I See It: Mendocino Bay" (1995) and Stevenson's double portrait of jazz poet ruth weiss and artist Paul Blake, "The Poet & The Artist" (2002). Originally Stevenson called the star-like figures which emerged in spiraling fractures, "sparkles", but an interviewer's typo changed the word to "sparles" and Stevenson adopted it.[15]

Liturgical Work[edit]

Although Stevenson was eclectic in his personal spiritual exploration,[15] with a special interest in Hermetic philosophy,[1][12][13] some of Stevenson's Christian liturgical work can be seen at several Northern California churches.[1] The stained glass angel windows at Saint Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church,[16] Fort Bragg, California were designed by Stevenson and installed in 1984.[17] Other church installations include Stevenson's murals at the Methodist Church of the Good Shepherd, now Good Shepherd United Methodist Church,[18] Richmond, California and the Piedmont Community Church,[19] Piedmont, California. In a rare foray into sculpture, Stevenson designed the altar cross for the children's chapel at the Piedmont Community Church.[1]

Book Illustration[edit]

Those who are familiar with the work of musician, writer and cultural icon Chester Anderson will recognise Charles Stevenson as the illustrator of Anderson's groundbreaking proto-graphic-novel [1][20][21] Fox & Hare: The Story of a Friday Evening (1980), published by Paul Williams, Entwhistle Books. Lately I've Been Thinking (1990), one of the Mendocino Malady series by Bobby Markels, is illustrated on the cover and throughout the text with Stevenson's line drawings of the author.[22] Stevenson's painting "The Hee Ancestor Landing on the Headlands" appears on the cover of the Kelley House Museum publication Chinese on the Mendocino Coast (1990–1991), by Dorothy Bear and David Houghton.[23]

Stevenson-Leach Studios[edit]

In 1989, Stevenson invited young Mendocino artist Matt Leach first to be his apprentice, then to work with him as a partner; they formed Stevenson/Leach Studios.[1][24][25] Among the works produced by the team were a series of large painted screens,[1][11] of which "Mendocino Afterglow" is a strong example. The Artist's Magazine awarded "Mendocino Afterglow" first place in its 1995 international landscape competition.[25]

Theatre[edit]

Both Stevenson and Leach worked in local theatre, designing sets and posters for local productions, including productions at the Mendocino Art Center's Helen Schoeni Theatre,[26][27] currently administered by the [28] Mendocino Theatre Company and the Gloriana Opera Company, now Gloriana Musical Theatre.[1][29] Stevenson directed plays as well.[25][30]

Mastership Program[edit]

Inspired by private schools of art on the East Coast, in the mid-1970s Stevenson created and was the first director of the Mastership Program at the Mendocino Art Center, an accredited alternative art school for children and teens. Instructors included James Maxwell (life drawing), Miriam Rice (sculpture), Ray Rice (murals and animation), Charles Stevenson (painting) and Bill Zacha (watercolor). Outside the classroom, Bill Zacha was the school's administrator and Dorr Bothwell acted as advisor.[29]

Land Donation[edit]

In 1976 Stevenson donated a large parcel of land to the Mendocino Art Center.[1][31] Stevenson sold the property, located on Little Lake Street between School and Howard Streets, for one dollar,[32] with the provision that it be used for affordable housing for artists.[29] In 2006 the property was sold to a private developer for 1.2 million dollars.[32]

The Stevenson Studio at the Mendocino Art Center[edit]

The Stevenson Studio [17] at the Mendocino Art Center was donated by Mildred & Charles Marchant Stevenson II, the artist's parents.[1]

Retrospective[edit]

The Charles M. Stevenson Retrospective was held at the Mendocino Art Center in 1994.[1][12][29]

Last Years[edit]

In Stevenson's later years, he and his friend artist Pamela Hunter held salons at Stevenson's house [3] in the village of Mendocino, open gatherings of local artists, writers and musicians, with art exhibits, poetry readings and performances by local musicians [1] After a long illness, Stevenson died at home the day after his 77th birthday, August 30, 2004.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Blick, "Charles Stevenson (1927-2004)"
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Leach & Lamb, "Interview: Charles Stevenson, Master Painter", p.6
  3. ^ a b c d e f Arvola, "The Magic of Charles Stevenson", p.1
  4. ^ Eppstein, "A Visit With Charles Stevenson", p.24
  5. ^ a b Levene, 'The Mendocino Art Center: A 50 Year Retrospective, p.145
  6. ^ Mendocino Art Center founders Bill and Jennie Zacha
  7. ^ a b Leach & Lamb, "Interview: Charles Stevenson, Master Painter", p.22
  8. ^ Wallace & Roberson, "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities", p.14
  9. ^ Pertha, "Drawing With Charles Stevenson", p.27
  10. ^ Eppstein, "A Visit With Charles Stevenson", p.26
  11. ^ a b Archive of the Art of Charles Marchant Stevenson
  12. ^ a b c d e f Huckaby, "Charles Stevenson: The Nature of Reality", p.5
  13. ^ a b c d Leach & Lamb, "Interview: Charles Stevenson, Master Painter", p.23
  14. ^ Obara, Golden Ratio in Art and Architecture
  15. ^ a b c d Eppstein, "A Visit With Charles Stevenson", p.25
  16. ^ Saint Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church
  17. ^ a b Arvola, "The Magic of Charles Stevenson", p.2
  18. ^ Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
  19. ^ Piedmont Community Church
  20. ^ Anderson, Fox and Hare: the story of a Friday evening.
  21. ^ Williams, "Introduction", Fox and Hare: The Story of A Friday Evening.
  22. ^ Markels, Bobby. Lately I've Been Thinking, illustrations on cover & throughout text, most unpaged
  23. ^ Bear & Houghton, "Chinese of the Mendocino Coast", front cover & inside front cover.
  24. ^ Leach, The Art of Charles M. Stevenson, Mendocino, California
  25. ^ a b c "Artist's Magazine '95 Art Competition", page 66.
  26. ^ Levene, The Mendocino Art Center: A 50 Year Retrospective, p.67
  27. ^ Zacha, "I've Been Looking For This Town All My Life: an Oral History", pp.27-28
  28. ^ Mendocino Theatre Company
  29. ^ a b c d Arvola, "The Magic of Charles Stevenson", p.3
  30. ^ Levene, 'The Mendocino Art Center: A 50 Year Retrospective, p.67
  31. ^ Arvola, "The Magic of Charles Stevenson", p.4
  32. ^ a b De Vall, "The Mendocino Art Center", p.18

Print & Web Sources[edit]

  • Anderson, Chester. Charles Stevenson, illustrator. Fox and Hare: the story of a Friday evening. Entwhistle Books. Glen Ellen, California, 1980. Print.
  • "Archive of the Art of Charles Marchant Stevenson". Accessed 05-30-2010. Web.
  • "Artist's Magazine '95 Art Competition: Landscapes, First Place: Charles Stevenson and Matthew Leach: Capturing Passing Time." The Artist's Magazine, Fall & Winter, 1995. Page 66. Print.
  • Arvola, K. Andarin, "The Magic of Charles M. Stevenson: August 29, 1927 - August 30, 2004", Real Estate Magazine: Mendocino Property, Vol. 18, No. 8, Issue 450. Pages 1–4. Print.
  • Arvola, Andarin, "The Magic of Charles M. Stevenson: August 29, 1927 - August 30, 2004", Real Estate Magazine, Editorial 450 for Printing. Accessed 11-14-2009. Web.
  • Bear, Dorothy & Houghton, David."Chinese of the Mendocino Coast", Mendocino Historical Review, Volume XV. Winter/Spring 1990-1991. Kelley House Museum (original name of publisher: Mendocino Historical Research), P.O. Box 922, Mendocino, California. Print.
  • Bear, Dorothy & Houghton, David. The Temple of Kwan Tai. Excerpts from The Chinese of the Mendocino Coast. Mendocino Historical Review, Volume XV Winter/Spring. The Kelley House Museum, publisher. 1990-1991. Accessed 06-13-2010. Web.
  • Blick, Carol Goodwin, "Charles Stevenson (1927-2004)". 2008. Accessed 06-13-2010. Web.
  • Brossard, Chandler. Ted Streshinsky, photographer. "California Village: A Young Man Saves an Old Town", Look Magazine. September 25, 1962. Accessed 06-10-2010. Web.
  • De Vall, Norman. "The Mendocino Art Center", Mendocino Arts, The Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino, California 95460. Summer 2006. Page 18. Print.
  • Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, formerly Methodist Church of the Good Shepherd, 6226 Arlington Boulevard, Richmond, California. Accessed 06-28-2010. Web.
  • Hambidge, Jay. Elements of Dynamic Symmetry. Dover Books on Art Instruction. 1967. 133 pages. Print.
  • Hee-Chorley, Lorraine. Chinese In Mendocino County. Arcadia Publishing. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. 2009. Print.
  • Review, "Chinese in Mendocino County" by Lorraine Hee-Chorley, Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Accessed 06-12-2010. Web.
  • Huckaby, Gerry. "Charles Stevenson: The Nature of Reality." A&E Magazine. August 1994. Mendocino Art Center. Mendocino, California. Pages 4–6. Print.
  • Kelley House Museum, 45007 Albion Street, Mendocino, California, 95460. Accessed 06-13-2010. Web.
  • Kjeldsen, Beverley Baker, "Mendocino Art Center's 35th Anniversary: Bill Zacha Builds an Art Center", Arts & Entertainment Magazine The Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino, California, Vol.XIX, No. 8. August 1994. Pages 8–10. Print.
  • Korbel, Connie. "Art Center Denied Extension: Must Reapply For Water Permit", Mendocino Beacon. 07-06-2006 Page 1. Print
  • Korbel, Connie. "Harvest at Mendosa's Secures More Water", Mendocino Beacon. 01-04-2007. Page 1. Print.
  • Lamb, Antonia. "Interview: Charles Stevenson", A&E Magazine. December 6, 1990 . Mendocino Art Center. Mendocino, California 95460. Print.
  • Leach, Matt with Lamb, Antonia. "Interview: Charles Stevenson, Master Painter", A&E Magazine. Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino, California, 95460. August 1994. Pages 5–7, 22-23. Print.
  • Leach, Matt, The Art of Charles M. Stevenson, Mendocino, California Accessed 06-13-2010. Web.
  • Levene, Bruce, compiler & editor. The Mendocino Art Center: A 50 Year Retrospective. Pacific Transcriptions, Mendocino, California 95460. 2009. ISBN 978-0-93339-132-1. Print.
  • Lyford House at Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary. Tiburon, California. Accessed 06-13-2010. Web.
  • Markels, Bobby. "Quotes by Bobby Markels[permanent dead link]", GoodReads. Accessed 06-13-2010. Web.
  • Markels, Bobby. Lately I've Been Thinking. Charles Stevenson, illustrator. Saul Bellow and Anne Halley, comments on back cover. Stone Publishing Company, P.O. Box 711, Mendocino, California 95460. 1990. Print.
  • Markels, Bobby. "Lately I've Been Thinking", Mendocino Malady: The Complete Collection, 1966 - 2006. Cypress House. ISBN 9781880991084. Print.
  • Mendocino Art Center, 45200 Little Lake Street, Mendocino, California, 95460. Accessed 06-14-2010. Web.
  • Mendocino Community Services District, minutes of the meeting, July 28, 2008. Accessed 11-16-2009. Web.
  • Miller, Rebecca. John Birchard & Justin Lewis, photographers. Judy Dietrick, book designer. "Charles Stevenson", Mendocino Artists: An Endangered Species. North Coast Rural Challenge and Mendocino County Museum in collaboration with Monday Press, Palo Alto, California. 2000. Unpaged. Print.
  • Obara, Samuel. "Golden Ratio in Art and Architecture", The University of Georgia, Department of Mathematics Education. Accessed 06-28-2010. Web.
  • Pacioli, Luca. "Divina Proportione" Nabu Press. 2010. ISBN 1-142-24443-1. Print.
  • Pertha, Hilda. "Drawing with Charles Stevenson", A&E Magazine The Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino, California. Summer 2002. Pages 27, 75. Reprinted with permission. Originally published in WESTART, May 1975. Print.
  • Piedmont Community Church, 400 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, California. Accessed 06-10-2010. Web.
  • Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary. Tiburon, California. Accessed 06-13-2010. Web.
  • Saint Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, Fort Bragg, California. Accessed 06-13-2010. Web.
  • Saint Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church 201 E. Fir Street, Fort Bragg, California 95437. Accessed 06-13-2010. Web.
  • Stevenson, Charles. Antonia Lamb, editor. "Local Artists on Avant Garde: Charles Stevenson talks about the onward march of culture and other things related to the avant garde", Arts & Entertainment Magazine. The Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino, California 95460. March 1981. Pages 8–9. Print.
  • Stevenson/Leach Studios. Accessed 06-28-2010. Web
  • The Temple of Kwan Tai, 54160 Albion Street, Mendocino, California. Accessed 06-10-2010. Web.
  • Wallace, Kent & Roberson, Robyn. "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities: The Saga of Bill Zacha and the Mendocino Art Center", OutLook (formerly Mendocino County Outlook). August 1994. Page 14. Print.
  • Williams, Paul. "Introduction", Fox and Hare: The Story of A Friday Evening. Entwhistle Books, Glen Ellen, California 95442. Chester Anderson, author. Charles Stevenson, illustrator. 1980. Print.
  • Zacha, Bill. "I've Been Looking For This Town All My Life: an Oral History",The Mendocino Art Center: A 50 Year Retrospective. Pacific Transcriptions, Mendocino, California 95460. 2009. ISBN 978-0-93339-132-1. Print.
  • Zacha, Bill, "The Nurturing Love", Arts & Entertainment Magazine, Vol. XIX, No. 8. The Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino, California, 95460. August 1994. Page 11. Print.
  • Zacha, Lucia. "Divine Inspiration, Creative Genius. A Whim.", Mendocino Arts. The Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino, California 95460. Fall 2010. Page 11. Print.