Charlene Engel lives and works in Gilbert, Arizona, about 20 miles east of Phoenix. Since her arrival from New Hampshire in April 2014, her work has shown her fascination with the Sonoran Desert landscape of central and southern Arizona and its rich and varied collection of growing things. The first paintings she did in Arizona were of Paloverdes in the Gilbert neighborhood where she lives. In April they were covered with their annual blanket of yellow blooms that turned the ground beneath them brilliant yellow when they fell.
Always interested in trees, she has focused on mesquites with their tense and convoluted shapes and on the paloverdes reaching and stretching in their tight green skin. The trees suggest all sorts of gestures and strong emotions, narratives are easy to imagine.
Engel has shown widely around the United States and abroad. In Arizona her work has been shown around the state, for example, at Sky Harbor Airport, The Herberger Theater, and First Studio in Phoenix; at Taliesin West, the Scottsdale Artists School and the Holland Gallery in Scottsdale, at All Art Arizona at Art Intersection and at the Gilbert Historical Museum in Gilbert, at Vision Gallery and the Chandler Center for the Arts in Chandler, and at ASU Gammage in Tempe. Her work has also appeared in shows at the SAWG Gallery in Williams Center in Tucson. She is a Signature member and former Board member of SAWG, and is a member of GVAL, AAG, AAA, AWA and Art Intersection.
The artist was born in Norfolk, Virginia and began to draw and paint while still a small child, encouraged by her grandmother. She began to show and sell work in high school and had work in numerous shows. She studied art and art history at Old Dominion University where she was supported by two Fellowships from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and received a B.F.A. She did graduate work in studio art and received degrees in Architectural History and Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
She has published articles and catalogues including ones on George Bellows prints, Winslow Homer prints, Felix Buhot, Edward Hopper, and Jan Van Eyck. She has recently written articles on the value of the arts in elementary education and on collecting African Trade Beads.
She has lived in eleven states in the US and shown in many regional and national shows. She has drawn and painted the landscape in every place where she has lived in whatever way seemed to suit it. The watery marshland of Virginia yields work that is different from the deep woods and fiery colors of New England in fall, and neither prepares an artist for the uniquely beautiful and powerful landscape of Arizona. Engel’s work, especially in Arizona, has landscape as its subject, but to make a literal copy of what she sees is not the point. What we think and feel and imagine when we really look at something is the point.
Engel has taught both art and art history at The College of William and Mary, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Wisconsin, the University of New Mexico, deSales University, Moravian College, UCSD, Mira Costa College, and the San Diego Museum of Art. She has curated exhibitions, and run art galleries at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA and Grossmont College in El Cajon, California.
Her work is in public and private collections in 23 states across the US and in several countries abroad.