Charles Rowe, University of Delaware
professor emeritus of art, was the honored artist at the Delaware
Foundation for the Visual Arts’ 17th annual spring show, held April
8-10 at the Hagley Museum Soda House in Wilmington.
The event, which featured an opportunity to purchase selected works
of Rowe and over 50 Brandywine Valley artists, provides scholarships for
high school art students in the First State.
A veteran of numerous one-artist shows, Rowe’s works are featured in
collections nationally and in Canada and Europe, including Archives,
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England; Library of Congress,
Washington, D.C.; Banco de Granada, Granada, Spain; NASA Space Museum,
Cape Canaveral, Florida; and the Kevin Costner Collection, Hollywood,
Rowe said that his interest in art began at an early age, and was
encouraged by a fourth grade teacher in his native Great Falls, Montana,
“I went to school in Montana until I went into the Army, serving in
Korea,” Rowe said. “After military service I went to Southern Methodist
University for a year, and then received a scholarship to the School of
the Art Institute of Chicago, where I studied with artist Leroy
Rowe also received a master of fine arts degree from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University.
Working as a package designer in Greenville, South Carolina, while
also tying to paint on his own, Rowe was encouraged by his wife Eugenia
to give teaching at the college level a try.
“When I came to UD in 1964, I taught advertising graphic design and
illustration, and my students won 55 national awards,” Rowe said. “The
course was later changed to visual communications.”
During his 33-year tenure at UD, Rowe said he encouraged his students
not to give up on a project or assignment just because a problem seemed
insurmountable at the time.
“I would tell them to never say ‘can’t,’” Rowe said. “I would let
them know that while they might have a certain problem for which they
did not know the answer, they would eventually solve it if they worked
at it. If you say you can’t, it means that you have given up.”
Rowe remembered one student who had dropped her final drawing for the
course on Newark’s Main Street, where it subsequently was run over by a
“I told her and the class that the original work was good, but the
marks made by the tire treads make the painting even more unique and
gave it an extra quality,” Rowe said. “I also enjoyed seeing students
from small high schools do as well as those from schools with powerful
Favorite artists for Rowe include Rembrandt, Salvador Dali, George Seurat, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Andrew Wyeth.
“Andy Wyeth was a great composer of white spaces in his painting,”
Rowe said. “All of these people were also great thinkers and inventors.”
Through his current work embodies the dreamlike mystical qualities of
surrealism, Rowe’s paintings also evidence a love of nature that
reflects growing up in Montana in a family of outdoorsmen who fly fished
nearby streams and rivers.
“Surrealism has been around since the 1450s. It used to be called
fantasy painting,” Rowe said. “To me, surrealism is a bridge between
realism and complete abstraction.”
About Black and White
Rowe’s Black and White 1981 duck stamp award-winning painting is
the only original Delaware duck stamp winning work still in private
Flying close up over a snow-draped Delaware beach under a wintery
full moon and displaying their white plumage with charcoal grey
wingtips, the pair of snow geese immediately catch the eye and capture
the imagination of the viewer.
“To get an idea of what I wanted to do, I visited the New York Museum
of Natural History and the Delaware Museum of Natural History,” Rowe
said. “I also visited the Egyptian collection in the Metropolitan Museum
of Art in New York City, because the Egyptians often used animals as
Whether his work evokes images of the real or surreal, or the world
in between, Rowe has pursued a singular artistic vision and goal.
“People ask me what I try to do,” Rowe said. “My goal is to create
something that will be understood in all countries around the world,
About the Delaware Foundation for Visual Arts
The Delaware Foundation for Visual Arts is a non-profit, membership
organization dedicated to the preservation of the art, with a mission to
develop a wide ranging network of support and encouragement for the
aspiring visual artist and to foster understanding and appreciation of
art and its importance in society.
The organization conducts regular workshops and provides critiques
for members and holds the annual outdoor Greenville Summer Art Show,
usually held in May or June.