Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Meet Chuck Scalin - Reynolds Student Art Show Judge*

Photo: Anne De Geer, Sweden.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and attended public schools there. Later I graduated from the School of the Art Institute with a BFA degree and afterward worked as a graphic designer. For one of my clients, Mercury Records, I designed album covers that included covers for some of the top recording artists of the early sixties: the Smothers Brothers, Moms Mabley, Johnny Mathis and Leslie Gore among others.  A few years later I left Chicago to pursue an MFA degree from Pratt Institute in NYC. In late spring of 1968 I was offered a teaching position at Richmond Professional Institute. When I started teaching in the fall, the school became known as Virginia Commonwealth University.

You came to Richmond in 1968 to become an art professor at VCU and you immediately became an integral part of Richmond’s budding arts community. You were involved with the startup of Artspace and many other arts related projects. Tell us about Richmond’s budding arts community in those early years.
When I arrived in Richmond, there were very few galleries here and not a very extensive arts community. In fact, my very first solo show here was in 1971 at the Eric Schindler Gallery. It's still a vital local gallery here, even since I had my exhibition there 47 years ago! Yes, later I was on the board of Artspace Gallery when it was located on Broad Street and later moved to Plant Zero. I then became one of the founding members of a new non-profit galley, Art 6 that opened in the same location as Artspace. I was later invited to become an artist board member at 1708 Gallery.

How has the Richmond arts scene changed since then?
The art scene grew considerably as the School of the Arts expanded, bringing with it many arts faculty from all over the country. Later after First Friday was created, the Broad Street art corridor began to flourish with new galleries, restaurants, and shops.

Mixed Media Collage
In 2017 the Richmond Times Dispatch characterized you, your wife Mim Golub, and your children Noah and Mica as “one of Richmond’s best known artistic families.” Were your parents artists as well? Did you encourage Noah and Mica to become artists or was it just in their DNA?
I don't know if we are "one of Richmond's best known artistic families" but we are a 2nd generation family of four practicing, professional artists. For the Glave Kocen exhibition** we came up with the title, Family Room. It referred to a space in our house my wife and I shared as our studio before we had children. After our two children came along, all four of us worked together in this space. They shared our supplies and that space became our "family room"!

Not only are you an artist, but it seems you are always looking for ways to make an art exhibit fresh and interesting. For example, the Family Room exhibit in 2017 at the Glave Kocen Gallery that included work by all your family members. Does that inspiration come from the same place as the inspiration for, say, an assemblage?
I never thought of our Glave Kocen exhibition as an assemblage, but in a way it was. I did assemble the four artists, each with their own distinctive personal creative direction, but all in the same family. At the last minute, I also included a fifth up-and-coming budding artist, the newest member and a third generation member of the Scalin family, our granddaughter Zinn. At the time she was three years old and exhibited two of her abstract expressionist paintings...which by the way, both sold the evening of the opening!

Of your extensive body of art work do you have a favorite piece, series of works, or project? Could you describe it? Why is it your favorite?
In the past 50 years, I've worked with many different directions and mediums including painting, collage, assemblage, photography, glass, clay and mixed-media works. I've had solo shows and produced work with each of these mediums and with each of the series I've produced, there have always been some favorite pieces--a few I've retained and some were sold. 

You spent over 30 years as an art professor at VCU, retiring in 2003 as Professor Emeritus and Assistant Chair of the Communication + Design Department. You will be judging the Reynolds Student Art Show opening at the end of March, 2018. What is the best part of judging a student show? The most challenging part?
I was particularly fond of the Body of Evidence boxes I created in 2012 for my 25th solo show at Ghostprint Gallery. I had hoped to keep the entire series intact so it could be exhibited in other locations, but one of the pieces did sell at the time. However I still have the remaining 13 pieces from the series and am pleased that these pieces did get to be exhibited since then at international festivals in Indonesia, South Africa, Australia and coming this fall in Nepal.

What advice do you give young artists just beginning to explore their talents today?
I think the best advice I can give to a young artist is to explore, experiment and don't be afraid to try new directions. Look closely at your environment for inspiration and finally to quote my children, to remember..."Creativity Is A Practice!"

*Reynolds is pleased to have Professor emeritus and former Assistant Chair of the Communication Arts + Design Department at VCU Chuck Scalin and his wife, artist Mim Golub, as this year’s show judges. Chuck and Mim are honored to judging this show and presenting awards to the students during the Awards Reception.

Additionally, Reynolds is pleased to have a body of Scalin’s work, “Chuck Scalin: creative pursuits 1971 – 2017” exhibited during the Awards Reception.  Eventually these works will become part of Reynolds’ permanent collection. His collection will consist of 47 examples of work produced in various mediums over the past 47 years.

Chuck has worked in many different mediums over the years and this collection will include examples of his photography, collage, assemblage, printmaking, clay and glassworks. Chuck earned his BFA and MFA degrees from both the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and Pratt Institute in New York.

He has been a practicing professional artist for over 50 years and is also a designer, collector and curator and project producer. His work has been included and received recognition in over 300 exhibitions, with 25 solo exhibitions and has works in many public and private collection both in the US and abroad.

He has been involved with the local galley scene since he moved to Richmond in 1967 and has sat on boards of non-profit galleries, including 1708 and Artspace Galleries.

**In 2017 the Glave Kocen Gallery had an exhibit of the work of Chuck Scalin, his wife Mim Golub, and their two children Noah and Mica. The family came up with the name, “The Family Room”. Each family member was represented including the newest artist in the family, granddaughter Zinn.