“As a painter, the task is [equally] difficult to arrange my images within the rectangle, trying to avoid an obvious composition, but rather, to compose in the manner in which nature composes. Which is to say no composition. It simply is.” –Robert McCauley
Robert McCauley was born and raised in Mt. Vernon, Washington, and has been influenced by the Northwest Coast culture in his artwork. Originally an oceanography major at Western Washington University, he switched to art when he realized that oceanographers have to work in labs. Later, hearing that it was best to go east for grad school, he went all the way to eastern Washington to attend Washington State University. After getting an MFA in 1972, he settled in Illinois to teach at Rockford College. After a long and distinguished career as a professor and chairman of the art department, McCauley returned to his beloved Skagit Valley to live and work.
While McCauley’s paintings, drawings, installations and mixed media works are rooted in the tradition of 19th century American Romanticism, his narratives are contemporary, timely and relevant. Through the metaphorical juxtaposition of found objects, inscribed texts on frames and ambiguous titles, McCauley addresses a wide variety of contemporary themes and issues, including cultures in collision, environmental ethics, humankind’s impact on nature and the appropriation of nature in art.
McCauley’s paintings are sometimes ambiguous, but not so much that no meaning comes across. Returning to his childhood haunts each summer has shown the artist how much things keep changing. “The salmon streams I fished in are silted up and have no more salmon,” he says. “The Native Americans used to set a trap of chicken wire a half mile out to sea, and I would watch the salmon in the trap in awe. That’s gone. Even the huge fishing resorts are gone because the fish are gone. Clear-cutting is still common. A small greenbelt of ten feet on either side of the roads makes you think you’re looking at forest, but beyond that it’s just devastation.”
McCauley is an award winning artist who has exhibited in museum and gallery shows nationally since 1975. His teaching experience includes Professor Emeritus at Rockford University, and Professor and Chairman, Department of Art and Art History, Rockord University. He was awarded a Fellowship in drawing from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1982, and a Fellowship in Painting from the Illinois Arts Council in 1999, as well as a Research Grant, Kwakwaka’wakw Culture, Vancouver Island, Rockford College in 1994.
Select Solo Exhibitions
Linda Hodges Gallery, Seattle, 2015
Visions West Gallery, Denver, 2014
“Bestiary”, Hallie Ford Museum, 2014
Western Visions “Wild 100 Artists”, National Museum of Wildlife Art, 2014, 2015
Perimeter Gallery, Chicago, 2013
Gail Severn Gallery, Ketchum ID, 2012
Robert McCauley: “Alone in the Wilderness” 30 year Retrospective, Rockford Art Museum, 2006
“Magnificent Extravagance: Artists and Opulence” Racine Art Museum, 2005
“Water World” South Bend Museum of Art, 2004