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Charles C. McKim

American, 1862-1939


Bristol 1862





Portland 1939

Occupation or Type


Northwest artist

Oregon artist


As a child, Charles C. McKim was strongly influenced by artist Winslow Homer. McKim wrote of his summer camp experiences with Homer in the 1922 Portland Spectator. Eventually McKim went to Boston to study and opened a studio in Portland, Maine. He next lived in New York and later came to Portland, Oregon in 1911. He opened a studio in the Labbe Building at Second and Washington Streets. McKim had one of his first exhibitions at the Portland Press Club in the Elk's Building. Included were scenes of Siletz Bay, Salmon River Bay, Cascade Head, and sketches of sunsets and opalescent mornings. This early show provided an interesting comparison between the Atlantic Coast works he brought with him and his current work.

One year after his arrival in Portland, he was instrumental in forming the short-lived Society of Oregon Artists for which he served as the first President. Their mission was: "to seek to interest buyers of works of art of Oregonians and to encourage the work of artists; ... and bring into prominence latent talent." This group enjoyed the participation of prominent artists of the day with a membership of forty-five and four exhibits to their credit before disbanding in 1913. McKim also wrote a column in the Portland Spectator in the 1920s on art and its value in society.

McKim spent his summers at Crater Lake or at Yachats on the coast, where he filled many sketch books. His choice of subject was sometimes unusual: the chill of fog which all but obscured the subject matter, sunlight dancing over the violet waters of Crater Lake or the sluggish Columbia Slough portrayed in a romantic way. He said in an interview in 1922 that he was in Oregon now because "he is in love with the scenery." When the snow fell he took his easel outdoors and painted until every flake disappeared; he filled his studio with snow scenes. Oregon scenery is the constant theme of his work. He was an artist of clear and sensitive vision, Oregon's quintessential Impressionist. He signed his work C.C. McKim.

Artist biography reproduced with permission from the authors, Oregon Painters: the First Hundred Years (1859-1959), Ginny Allen and Jody Klevit.



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