I do my artwork for the love of it, for the fun of it, and to share what I see and feel. Like Norman Rockwell, one of my many artist heroes, I want others to experience the things of our culture and of days gone by, but in a fresh, exciting, and unusual way.
My passion for the open road, classic rock and roll and country music, and the cultural icons of America (especially the American West) shows up in my paintings. Often focusing on what cowboys do when they’re not chasing cows, I set them on fences, playing with a yo-yo or eating M&Ms, wearing dusty jeans and crusty boots.
And sometimes I just paint the jeans and boots. I never know what I’ll find to put with them (or sometimes without them): Marilyn Monroe, aging Coke signs, dilapidated billboards, rusty cafe and motel signs, toys, trucks, and cartoons, as long I can paint them old and weathered, full of colors and textures. I might even collage on some real 45 records or a license plate, just for the fun of it.
By combining the past with the present, putting things together that don’t necessarily appear together (but they could) and adding touches of humor, even sentimentality, I want my paintings to be fun and surprising (for me and for collectors), and to evoke a rich nostalgia for things that may soon be gone.
I hope viewers will be entertained and reminisce with me as I paint what I grasp from all that nostalgia. The puns and twists in my combinations of shapes, subjects, textures, colors, splatters, drips, art tools, and titles add to the FUN.
It’s my unique vision of America.
P.S.Carol and I spend a lot of time on the road, from one end of America the the other and from top to bottom. She loves photography and takes pictures along the way. You’ll also see her photographs and a link to her website.
“I believe Chuck Middlekauff is one of the keenest observers of the contemporary West. His paintings are a mirror showing us who we are and who we were. He is also capturing icons that may be lost within the next generation.” Seth Hopkins, Executive Director Booth Western Art Museum
“[Chuck’s] sense of humor is likely to crop up in discussions about his process and pop-art approach. “Someone recently looked at my work and said, ‘It looks like [Andy] Warhol ran into [Jackson] Pollock at a rodeo,’” Middlekauff jokes. “I guess that’s sort of what’s happening. I’m just doing my version of pop.”
The artist’s imagery, paint-spattered yet detailed, suggests a creative process that’s equal parts measured and unrestrained. His paint application itself is a mix of both; when he loads his brush with paint, some of it invariably dribbles and splashes across his surfaces. The artist chooses to leave the drips and splatters there, surrounding and even sprawling across his carefully rendered subjects. Then, purposefully, he’ll “add more drops, drips, splatters, and circles,” he says. “It’s a delicate balance between control and out of control. I’ve got it. But my wife can’t bear to watch.”
Other extemporaneous effects can arise as the artist paints. Items on his work table, ranging from art tools to candy wrappers, may inspire Middlekauff to portray those objects in—or physically collage them onto—his paintings. The artist has also recently started leaving sections of his paintings unfinished, “allowing viewers to see more drawing, and even some bare canvas,” he says. “By putting my cowboy into a modern, unexpected environment [with] other things I like, I’m setting my love of the cowboy image and the West against a backdrop of American-pop subjects: signage, advertising, product design, celebrities, movies. I like the contrast, the surprise element.” Kim Agricola, Senior Editor Southwest Art.