A! Magazine for the Arts

Charles Goolsby poses with one of his landscapes.

Charles Goolsby poses with one of his landscapes.

Charles Goolsby inspires students and art lovers

April 28, 2015

Like many children, Charles Goolsby loved to draw; unlike many children he has carved out a successful career with his art.

"In the 1970s, I was fortunate to attend Cave Spring High School in Roanoke, Virginia, which offered specific courses in drawing, painting, ceramics and sculpture. Visiting local artists demonstrated for our art club. This provided me early contact with working professionals in the Roanoke Valley," he says.

His earliest work was in experimental water media and acrylic. "This exploration gradually evolved into a series of very colorful mixed media abstract works that were well received by national watercolor exhibitions. During the 1980s I was a high school art teacher in Pulaski County, Augusta County and Waynesboro City. I also taught at Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, Virginia.

He is the department chair and professor of art at Emory & Henry College, Emory, Va., and has been a practicing artist for more than 35 years. He has a bachelor's degree in art from Radford University and a master's of fine arts from James Madison University.

"My graduate work at James Madison University was a time of exploration resulting in a transition to oil paint and monotype. They remain my two major working processes today. Since coming to Emory & Henry, I have primarily used the inspiration from the landscape as the basis for representational with a very physical approach to paint application."

He is working on several large landscape paintings, three of which are based on photographs he made in Glade Spring on the morning following the tornado in 2011.

"The morning after the tornado, I was able to walk right into the disaster area. I took two digital cameras with two different lenses to shoot. My access was pretty good, since the law enforcement and disaster officials had not yet shut down the area. I spent several hours shooting that morning and also had pretty good access in the following weeks. I am using these images as starting points for the paintings."

Each canvas is 4 x 6 feet and has loosely drawn graphite outlines already. "As soon as my schedule permits, I will start with some thin oil washes and build to gradually thicker layers of oil paint. A lot of my work evolves in process, which is what makes it exciting for me. So, transformation will occur, but as of this point, the paintings are very much in an embryonic stage."

Goolsby, according to one critic, "responds to the landscape and life around him - man-made structures, landforms, people - yet his work transcends the particular, evoking a larger vision of human isolation and mystery."

His work has been featured in more than 45 solo exhibitions throughout the Southeastern United States. He is represented by Blue Spiral I Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina. His work has been selected for regional and national juried exhibitions through the United States and is included in a number of public and corporate collections.

He has received fellowships from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Ucross Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation. He was selected as a resident associate artist by the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, where he worked with internationally acclaimed artist Donald Sultan. In 2012 he was selected as a Fellow at VCCA-France at Le Moulin à Nef, a studio center in the Gascon village of Auvillar. In August of 2010, three of Goolsby's oil paintings were included in the highly selective journal, New American Paintings. One of his paintings was featured in Oxford American Magazine's Fall 2005 issue on southern art and architecture. His art appeared on the April 1989 cover of School Arts Magazine.

His influence as an artist has reached beyond the canvas and touched the lives of hundred of students at Emory & Henry College. Many of these students, influenced by his style and passion for art, have gone on to successful careers as fine artists, art educators and graphic artists, as well as professionals in advertising and marketing.

"Art is at my core. It transforms the way I think and see the world. It is a powerful tool for sharing both our intellectual and affective selves. It is essential for our human experience. It helps make us whole. It is wonderful for the Arts Alliance to start this awards program. Our region is blessed with so much talent, achievement and vision. It is great to recognize and share it with a broader community," he says.

If you would like to see Goolsby's art, he has a show scheduled at Emory & Henry in October.

AAME achievement profile: Val Lyle