Charles Gibbs

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 their children to mid-century modern art and culture, with visits to Bay Area museums and galleries, art books in the home, and Saturday classes at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. He started making metal sculpture when he was fifteen, soldering and welding junk metal together like the Beat-era artists he admired.

After high school, Charles attended U.C. Berkeley, at a time of intense social, political, and personal upheaval. He dropped out after a few semesters to pursue sculpture full time, but was careless about his draft status and was soon in the Army, at the height of the Vietnam War. Fortunately, instead of slogging through rice paddies he was assigned to a top-secret weapons testing program in Utah’s Great Salt Lake Desert — a surreal but relatively safe situation. Needless to say, his sculpture career was put on hold.

After his release from the Army, Charles returned to the Bay Area and took another stab at sculpture, but in 1971 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.

In 1977 Charles returned to complete a business degree at U.C. Berkeley (where he supported himself 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, 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 made the leap from salaried executive to full-time artist. His work has been shown at the Fuller Craft Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, Ohio Craft Museum, Montserrat College of Art, and Copia in Napa Valley; at U.S. embassies in Belgium, Belarus, and Cuba; and at commercial galleries in New England, San Francisco, and New Orleans. He has won awards at the Fitchburg Art Museum and Concord Art Association, and the commission for a large weathervane atop the new Sharon Arts Center building in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His work is in private collections throughout North America.

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