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Charles W. Ward

Painter
Born January 24, 1900, Trenton, New Jersey
Died December 7, 1962, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

People should loook at paintings without inhibitionns. They should learn to trust their judgment. If they are touched, if something comes across to them and they like it, they should not be afraid to say so. There is nothing mysterious about art. - Charles W. Ward

Born on January 24, 1900, in Trenton, New Jersey, Charles William Ward was interested in drawing as a child. At age fourteen he took a job in a watch factory, and in 1916 began art instruction with Henry R. MacGinnis at Trenton's School of Industrial Arts, at first in evening classes. He worked as a machinist from 1917 to 1924, and then became a full-time student at the School of Industrial Arts. In 1926 Ward enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, where he studied painting and sculpture. He received the academy's William Emlen Cresson Traveling Scholarship for study in Europe in 1930, and in 1932 he settled in Carversville, Bucks County.
His paintings of the Delaware River landscape were exhibited locally at the Pennsylvania Academy, and in New York at the National Academy of Design and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Ward also painted portraits and murals, and he made several trips to Mexico, including a four-month stay in 1939. In 1942 he married Anna Elizabeth Karlberg. Ward accepted teaching positions at the Trenton School of Industrial Arts and at Trenton Junior College in the same year (1946). Charles Ward made history in 1935 when his painting, Progress and Industry, was the first New Deal post office mural installed in the country. That program was a natural fit for Ward who once described his art, including modernist landscapes, insightful figurative works, and scenes of laborers both in Bucks County and in Mexico as "paintings for people." Despite the acclaim for his murals, Ward spent his career on more personal subjects in his Carversville, Pennsylvania studio. He died in Philadelphia on December 7, 1962, after thirty years' residence in Bucks County. A retrospective exhibition and catalogue, Charles W. Ward: Paintings for People, 2009, organized by the Michener Art Museum, explored for the first time the full range of Ward's work.


Image: Charles Ward, photograph by Jack Rosen,1957,courtesy of The James A. Michener Art Museum


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