C. McVicker: Portrait of an artist

One need not be an art aficionado to appreciate the work of Charles McVicker. McVicker, who was an assistant professor of art at the College for 18 years, is the featured artist in the new collection at the College Art Gallery.

The collection is appropriately titled “C. McVicker: Self-Portrait, a Retrospective.”

The exhibit opened with a reception last Wednesday and will be on display through March 29.

The artwork, which consists of watercolors, oils, acrylics, charcoals, collages and pen and ink sketches, shows the many “phases” or “series” that McVicker has experienced.

McVicker started out as an illustrator, creating artwork for magazines, book covers and even The Saturday Evening Post.

He then began experimenting with watercolor, and many of his pieces were displayed at the American Watercolor Society.

Some of McVicker’s earliest paintings are abstract. As his paintings developed, he began to include letters and poetry.

McVicker’s art evolved even more as he began to focus on still lifes and landscapes. Some of his recent paintings include street scenes, such as a train station and a wedding on Fifth Avenue, which is his latest piece.

Many family and friends attended the reception to celebrate McVicker’s work. They walked around the gallery as a guitarist set the mood with some low music.

They pointed at their favorite pieces, discussed the technique in others and commented on how nice it was to see his newest paintings finished.

His friends described the show as “amazing” and “marvelous.”

“His ability is astounding,” Priscilla Snow-Algava, art specialist at South Brunswick High School and one of McVicker’s friends, said. “Very expressive, very realistic. It’s quite inspiring as an artist and a teacher.”

McVicker’s daughter, Heather McVicker Teffenhart, was also present.

“It’s a most incredible show,” she said. “I like it because it shows his range. It shows all his different styles.”

While his McVicker Teffenhart admired her father’s entire collection, McVicker’s granddaughter had a favorite piece of artwork.

When asked which one she liked best, the young girl quietly pointed to one of McVicker’s more recent paintings, an acrylic titled “Rouen Cathedral,” which he made in 2005.

McVicker’s wife, Lucy Graves McVicker, who is also an artist, was there to support her husband.

In the detailed descriptions she gave as she explained each piece of artwork, McVicker’s wife showed her admiration for her husband and his work.

Several of McVicker’s former art students from the College came to the reception to honor him. “I was happy to see them. They came from some distance,” he said, smiling.

The College approached McVicker about a year ago, soon after he retired, about displaying his collection at the gallery.

He said that it was a rare opportunity and that he felt honored that they had asked him.

“He’s one of our treasures,” Judy Masterson, the gallery director, said.

“It’s an exhibit that shows a lifetime of painting _- all the phases I’ve gone through,” McVicker said.

“It’s interesting for me to see it all together like this,” McVicker said.

Even the artist had a favorite piece in this collection.

“You always like the one you just finished,” McVicker said, as he pointed to the colorful and realistic acrylic painting “Fifth Avenue Wedding.”

“And you always look forward to the next one.”

In the catalogue that accompanies the artwork in the gallery, McVicker sums up his life as an artist.

“Art is a lifetime journey and I have no idea where it will take me next,” he wrote, “but I am loving the ride.”