Charles Searles  (1937 - 2004) 

Charles Searles was born in Philadelphia PA and received his _ne art education at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) from 1969–72. He also attended the University of Pennsylvania for liberal arts studies, where he worked in the labs beside the scientists and engineers creating technical illustrations for text books. His early paintings embraced the tumultuous 1960s and also reflected his family life and surroundings.

Before graduating from PAFA, Searles received the Cresson Memorial Traveling Scholarship, and the following year, the Ware Memorial Traveling Scholarship. He was the first student to use these funds to travel to Africa. His travels in Africa marked his life and work forever — the life, the rhythms, the patterns, and the energy.

Searles then returned to Philadelphia and began teaching at the Ile Ife Cultural Center. It was then that he began his “Dancer” Series. _is series shifted his artistic style, celebrating his new sense of renewal and the African experience. He was awarded his first mural commission at the William G. Green Federal Building. This work, entitled “Celebration” is still on view today. At that time, he was also hired as a drawing teacher at the then Philadelphia College of Art, where he remained a professor for over twenty years.

In 1978 Searles moved to New York City. He found a large, raw space, an old sewing factory, on Broadway and Bleeker where he would remain for the rest of his life. He continued to commute to Philadelphia teaching part time. He met Kathleen Spicer, an art student, in 1983. They married in 1985. Together they shared a wonderful, open, artistic, social, and creative experience.

Searles then gradually moved away from painting and into sculpture. His sculptures maintained the vibrant color and patterns from his paintings but seemed to dance in three dimensions. these new works embodied a live sense of rhythm and energy — trademarks that he maintained throughout his career, whether in wood, bronze, or aluminum.

In his lifetime, Charles Searles participated in over 60 group shows, and 25 solo exhibitions. He was represented by the Sande Webster Gallery in Philadelphia for over 20 years. His paintings and sculptures can be found in innumerable public and private collections. Public commissions include the Delaware River Port Authority, the NYC Mass Transit Authority, the First District Plaza in Philadelphia, and the Amtrack station in Newark NJ. He was the recipient of many awards, including ones from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Adolph and Esther Gottleib Foundation, the Creative Arts Project Fellowship, and the National Endowment for the Arts.