Chuck Stern Ceramics

My Resume

Paintings Gallery

Ceramics Gallery

Photo Gallery

I was born and schooled in Detroit and after my requisite political/hippy years I filled out my political resume working for Congressman John Conyers and Mayor Coleman Young. During the Coleman Young period I was beginning to deep-bed garden and was assigned to direct a food and hunger task force, which furthered my interest in a sustainable future. When it became obvious that I was not cut out for the daily desk, I started building furniture to have an export product when the time came to plant myself and family on the piece of land inspired by Helen and Scott Nearing’s books, and Stewart Brand’s soul satisfying, dream- weaving Whole Earth Catalog and E. F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful.

Following that dream, my wife Patty Arbour, my son Daniel and I landed in Northampton, Mass., to plant our garden and build our life. But, life being what it is, the plan evolved in ways unforeseen - the gardens diminished over time and the art expanded. I made custom furniture until the proverbial lemon of a large furniture order cancellation in 1984 was turned into the lemonade of The Artisan Gallery, which, under Patty’s direction has supported us to this day. I spent the next ten years developing a critically successful oil painting career with a nice exhibition and review history. But, more importantly, the die was cast; I would be a maker of things and an explorer of media.

Returning from an extended stay in Mexico in 1993 with a handful of negatives, I was encouraged by acclaimed printer John Marcy to explore the possibilities of film. He took me under wing and I fell in love with the magic of the darkroom. Ten years of shooting travel, fashion, nudes, and events followed. I played with light, and movement and distortion. I printed exhibitions for myself and earned my keep printing for others. Again, I had a nice exhibition history - one as far as Mexico City, and some validating critical reviews. More than anything, though, I now had a long history of design and studio experience under my belt when I took on what, for me, was a most difficult and satisfying material - clay.

I had explored texture with waxes and thickeners and extra layers of canvas while painting, and with shower glass, layering, and emulsion transfers while photographing. And at some point (perhaps 2000), I thought to go right to the source of texture - the earth. This very productive period of pottery and sculpture ended with my retrospective at the Tabor Art Gallery in 2010, after which I returned to my first love, painting. But now, object and narrative have been replaced with shape, color and the relationships between them. Intellectual  has been tempered by the emotional; The mind by the heart. And I’m happy with the infinite explorations and challenges each painting presents.

While in the end, I didn’t grow all my own food here, living in the artist filled pioneer valley has allowed me to learn and explore without a formal art education. Very accomplished furniture makers, painters, photographers, potters and clay artists have been incredibly gracious and open about teaching and sharing. I am forever grateful.

Thanks to all,